Table of Contents For This Issue
News about People and Companies influencing The Broadband Home
Entertainment networks require on-time delivery of data packets. Wi-Fi networks use an Ethernet-based MAC layer without QoS guarantees. Networks such as IEEE 802.15.3, HiperLAN2 and Magis Networks’ AIR5™ present an alternative by using a TDMA MAC layer that guarantees QoS for entertainment networks. The two approaches can be compared to a highway and a rail system. Both will get you where you are going but trains run on a schedule – highways do not.
Although the Western Show has shrunk dramatically in size, it's still a "don't miss" event for catching up with key contacts and seeing what's hot. Comcast's Brian Roberts set the tone: thoughtful and bottom-line oriented. For now, pizzaz is out and practical is in. Home networking was much in evidence, for both data and video. Cable telephony is coming of age but won't make big waves just yet.
Brian Roberts isn't the type to get very excited when he describes the acquisition of AT&T as "the opportunity of a lifetime". He's much too busy getting management to work on the new merged entity and trying to correct situations he termed "the crisis" and "tragic". Despite the challenges, his thoughtful, bottom-line approach makes you feel that if anyone can make this work, he is up to the job.
The cable industry seems to have reached a new stage of maturity: nifty technology is nice and hot applications are sexy, but MSOs are spending their money on technologies with fairly immediate impact on their financial results. We look at three examples which focus on customer support, monitoring and managing traffic, and subscriber connectivity and management. All of them promise tangible impacts on the bottom line.
Many cable operators are planning to enter the home networking business, so it was no surprise that home networking was "hot" at this year's show. We talked with vendors of chips, software and products for networking and gateways, with many integrated products shown or promised.
We take a high-level look at the status of North American cable telephony. Lots has happened since AT&T purchased TCI and laid out their cable telephony plans. US cable has over 2 million local voice customers. PacketCable is finally getting ready for field deployment. But Comcast makes clear we shouldn't look for large volume rollouts in 2003. And what about SIP telephony and its impact?
While cable operators were focused on the "nuts and bolts" of rolling out VoIP, some vendors went against the tide to show video telephony and videoconferencing.
We spoke on "All-digital Networks" in a session titled "They're Just Over the Horizon: Emerging Technologies, Friend or Foe?" Our speech talked about the emergence of all-digital networks and suggested that cable operators should start thinking about a future without analog television.
We were struck by a full-page ad with this headline in the Sunday New York Times and thought it was time for an update on things wireless: the emergence of 802.11g products; notebook PCs with built-in Wi-Fi; and lots of activity in hot spots.
We visited ArrayComm, which is getting ready to start deploying an innovative wireless technology that just might eliminate the need for hotspots - or for wired high-speed service at home.
We visited Broadcom to learn more about the new video compression technology that will replace MPEG-2. When the dust settles, it will provide a 3X improvement over MPEG-2 and will be called H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10.
A thank you to the many readers who email us to share their knowledge and help us keep up with the constant developments affecting the broadband home. Since our next report will be after the turn of the year, we want to wish all of you a happy, healthy New Year -- and a great one for broadband too! Here are a few recent email excerpts from people immersed in this industry.
We're currently testing SIP phones, Wi-Fi access points and PC Cards, and a TiVo Series 2. We'll report on them in an upcoming issue.
We added a summary of each article to the Table of Contents page on the web, revised the section on structured cabling, and added pages to describe tests in process.