In today's increasingly competitive video services market, tools are needed to isolate problems, anticipate them before the customer sees them, measure whether services are improving or deteriorating and then determine the "quality of experience" as perceived by the viewer. We describe a taxonomy for tools with examples, and suggest some questions operators should ask when selecting tools.
IPTV Update -- IPTV World Forum North America, and More (BBHR 9/30/2008)
IPTV is maturing. Worldwide subscribers have more than doubled year-on-year. New tools are being used to measure quality and help isolate problems. Interoperable standards backed by many of the leading telcos and vendors will be published this year, with interoperability testing coming next.
US Telco TV offerings are finally on the move. After years of trailing countries like France, Italy and Hong Kong, the telcos move into video services is reaching the tipping point. The signposts we saw at this year's TelcoTV Show are clear. The talk is turning from technology to applications, its availability is growing, and consumers are buying it.
Over the past year, IPTV deployments have moved from pioneering telcos and vendors to mainstream players using more sophisticated components and offering services like HD. This year's TelcoTV Show included issues coming out of real deployments, maturing technologies, AT&T's U-verse deployment and new packaged solutions for smaller telcos. Although much capital and attention are being provided to TV services over managed networks, online video over the unmanaged Internet is beginning to play a complementary role.
We came away from TelcoTV 2005 feeling that IPTV is at the tipping point. The biggest telcos are all either committed to moving forward at scale, or are close to a commitment. Their traditional vendors are playing a major role. Microsoft also aspires to play a key role, but was all but invisible at the show.
Telephone companies worldwide are deploying the "triple play": voice, data and video services for the home. Some are starting to deploy standards-based systems to manage home equipment of many types and from different vendors. To learn more about how telcos will manage the triple play, we talked with Netopia, whose products based on the TR-069 standard have been adopted by BellSouth.
To provide IP-based television services, companies need a way to move video streams from the home gateway to the TV set. That's where the next generation of "whole-home wireless" technologies and products are important. Recent announcements from Ruckus Wireless, Metalink, and a big one from EWC are all pieces in the puzzle of how quickly 802.11n standards will be adopted and products get to the market.
The Open Systems Dilemma: An Interview with Minerva's Mauro Bonomi (BBHR 9/13/2005)
What's the future for a small company in IPTV, when Microsoft has decided to win the market? We interviewed Mauro Bonomi, CEO of IPTV vendor Minerva Networks, to understand how one experienced company is approaching that issue. While Mauro believes Minerva's open systems approach is best for customers, he understands the risks a big telco might see in choosing "not-Microsoft". Bonomi shared his thoughts on how the dynamics of this game might be changed.
For the first time SBC had a major presence at CES. The occasion was promotion of their two-pronged thrust in providing video services and the introduction of their new U-verse branding for its suite of IP-based products and services set to launch in 2005. Although lots of snazzy things were demonstrated, the crowd seemed most appreciative of a simple one--instantaneous channel changing.
Over the past year, the DSL Forum has published a set of reports defining the future evolution of DSL--and establishing a new framework for DSL to compete with cable. We interviewed some of the participants and describe the new architecture and some of the key system elements.
With cable operators increasingly attacking telephone companies core voice revenues, there has been much discussion of how telephone companies can go after TV services. Increasing DSL speeds and some moves to fiber make telco video services more feasible. We interviewed Roy Sherbo of MTS in Canada to see how one telco TV rollout has progressed during its first two years.
2Wire has grown from a start-up provider of residential gateways to an established supplier to telephone companies like SBC and British Telecom. Part of their success has come from adapting their product plans to the realities and needs of the market. As their telephone company customers face increasing US competition from cable's "triple play," 2Wire has created a quickly-deployable solution to integrate the video experience telcos provide by combining DSL and satellite. We met with Brian Sugar to learn more about this latest direction.
Thomson is a major player in film and television production, distribution and home video reception. With the introduction of a new family of IP-TV set-top boxes based on advanced compression technologies, it is providing telcos with a strong argument for moving fast with TV services over existing ADSL networks.
Broadband World Forum -- It Takes More Than Bandwidth (BBHR 9/23/2003)
Depending on your perspective, the message you heard at Broadband World Forum might have been that "things are great in DSL-land". Then again, it might have been that service providers are struggling to come up with compelling business models to mine the value from their broadband investments. DSL-based service providers and suppliers from throughout Europe, North America, and Asia were on the program, with major representation from incumbents and a more modest presence of competitive carriers and non-DSL broadband players. We were delighted to meet many of our readers both as speakers and attendees.
Tremendous changes have taken place in the UK broadband scene during the three years since our last extended visit. Although "Broadband Britain" is still more a goal than a reality, the progress is undeniable. We share a few impressions of the changes, plus what we heard in meetings with three distinctly different broadband service providers.
What do you learn when you bring together 125 executives from 70 telcos based in 40 countries? Alcatel's DSL customer event focused on broadband applications which will help increase the Average Revenue Per User to justify the continuing expenditures for building the underlying infrastructure, applications and support.
A Different Approach to DSL - An Interview with Celite Systems (BBHR 3/17/2003)
We interviewed Celite Systems, whose approach to broadband over phone lines combines traditional DSL and cable approaches. The company says their technology allows faster and less costly broadband deployment for facilities-based telcos.
While cable operators have been clear in their pursuit of the triple play (voice, data and video), telcos, especially those in the US, have been back and forth on the question of whether they should offer video services. We spoke with Manitoba Telecom Services about their video trial and with Next Level, the technology supplier to MTS, Qwest and others, to gauge what's happening.