BBH Report Home Page
August 21, 2003 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Heard on the Net

Celeria
Wireless Access To Cable Networks

Broadband Anywhere
The Extended Broadband Home

Voice is "Free"

Your Voice -
Readers' Comments

Meet Us in London

Broadband Jobs


Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home


People News

Scheron Briones has been appointed to the new position of solutions architect at Color Broadband, Inc. ( www.colorbroadband.com )

John Fordham was appointed VP of Sales at WiFiLand. He was previously with British Telecommunications. ( www.WiFiLand.net )

Robert E. "Bob" Switz was named president and CEO of ADC. He was previously their CFO. ( www.adc.com )

Kent Takeda has been appointed VP of Internet Photonics Telco Business Unit. Kent was previously at AT&T for 26 years. ( www.internetphotonics.com )

Jeff Turner has become Director of HSD Product Development at Adelphia. He formerly worked at Terayon Communications. ( www.adelphia.com )

Cable Television Laboratories made several staffing additions: Greg White was promoted to lead architect of its DOCSIS Specifications project; Craig Chamberlain was hired as director of Broadband Access (BA) Certification and Michelle Kuska was hired as director of BA Architecture and Specifications. Chamberlain was previously with Motorola Broadband and Kuska was previously with WildBlue. ( www.cablelabs.com )

Stargus Inc. has added to its management team Jonah Ninger as VP of sales and business development, and David Centauro as VP of finance. Ninger was previously with Telcordia Technologies and Centauro was CFO at Altaworks. ( www.stargus.com )


Company News

--Acquisitions

Arris completed the acquisition of the cable modem termination systems-related assets of COM 21, including the stock of its Irish subsidiary, for $2.8 million. ( www.arrisi.com ) ( www.com21.com )

GlobespanVirata Inc. has acquired the WLAN chip business from Intersil Corp. for approximately $365 million in cash and stock. The deal includes Intersil's portfolio of PRISM IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networking products and intellectual property. ( www.virata.com ) ( www.intersil.com )

OpenTV has acquired BettingCorp Limited, a developer and operator of gaming and betting technology and services, for $10 million. BettingCorp's technology allows gaming and betting services operators to use Internet, iTV and wireless platforms with one back-end management system and a single user account. ( www.opentv.com ) ( www.BettingCorp.com )

--Funding

Celite Systems, Inc. announced $10 million in second round funding. With this round, Celite has secured more than $26 million in total funding. ( www.celitesystems.com )

DSL.net closed a $30 million financing deal with institutional investors. ( www.dslnet.net )

NextNet Wireless Inc., a provider of non-line-of-sight broadband wireless access systems, has raised an additional round of funding led by COM Holdings LLC, a private company controlled by Craig McCaw. Terms and size of the funding round were not disclosed. ( www.nextnetwireless.com )

Scopus Network Technologies, a supplier of delivery technology for digital TV & data over broadband networks, raised $15.5 million in a second round. ( www.scopus.co.il )

SkyStream, a provider of technology for VOD, interactive and IP video deployments, has raised an additional $29 million in private funding, including investments from Comcast Interactive Capital, AOL Time Warner and Shaw Communications. ( www.skystream.com )

WaveRider, a provider of non-line-of-sight broadband wireless systems, has raised approximately $1.5 million to support customer growth and new product development. ( www.waverider.com )

Wi-LAN Inc., a provider of broadband wireless communications products and technologies, has raised $7.5 million in financing from a public offering of its stock. Wi-LAN made major contributions to the 802.16 standard--see the "broadband anywhere" article below. ( www.wi-lan.com )

--Other News

AOL Time Warner has received permission from the FCC to drop restrictions on adding video to its AOL instant messaging (AIM) service. The restriction, originally imposed when AOL acquired Time Warner, was supposed to last until AOL let its customers connect with smaller services. ( www.aoltimewarner.com )

Broadcom Corp. has unveiled a single-chip wireless network processor solution for integrated 802.11g access points and routers. The company says the chip--which integrates the 802.11g MAC and router/gateway/access point functions, but not the 2.4 GHz radio--will allow secure 802.11g wireless routers, access points and gateways to be produced less expensively, and in smaller form factors than previously. ( www.broadcom.com )

CableLabs announced progress in several aspects of its OpenCable initiative to enable retail distribution of "cable-ready" digital televisions and set-top boxes. ( www.cablelabs.com ) ( www.opencable.com )

  • They added NDS to a list of qualified CableCARD devices, which already included Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola. The PCMCIA-format CableCARD provides "removable security" for a digital set-top box or TV and is critical in enabling retail sale of interoperable set-top boxes and integrated digital television sets. After a customer buys a digital set-top or TV in a retail store, they contact the cable operator and receive and plug in a CableCARD. As the customer orders new services, the CableCARD provides the security for service decryption. ( www.nds.com )
  • They awarded certified status to Panasonic for four models of CableCARD-equipped digital television sets (DTVs) that will connect directly to cable television systems and receive HDTV and other one way digital services without requiring set-top boxes. Panasonic said "we expect to see these products in retail distribution this holiday season." ( www.panasonic.com )

Canada's CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) ruled that Canada's incumbent phone companies must make their high-speed Internet services available for sale to the residential customers of competitors. This means that Bell Canada, Aliant Telecom, SaskTel and Telus have to end restrictions making their high-speed Internet access available only to their own residential customers. ( www.crtc.ca )

The DSL Forum announced that Bell Canada, BellSouth, SBC Communications Inc., and Verizon have announced their support of the DSLHome Initiative. The companies will present a proposed home networking architecture at the September DSL Forum meeting and will define ADSL Residential Gateway requirements in 1Q04. ( www.dslforum.org ) ( www.bell.ca ) ( www.bellsouth.com ) ( www.sbc.com ) ( www.verizon.com ) ( www.dslforum.org/aboutdsl/dslhome_index.html )

On-Line TV, a Japanese TV service delivered over ADSL and FTTH networks, is being backed by Liberty Media International and Jupiter Programming, according to a report in ISP news and CED. Other investors include Tohokushinsha and SECOM. The service will conduct a three-month test beginning starting with over 1,000 consumers.

PCTEL, Inc., a provider of Wi-Fi and cellular mobility software, announced an agreement to provide its Segue Roaming Client software to AT&T Wireless. AT&T Wireless customers will be able to use the software to automatically detect, connect and log on to Wi-Fi locations in airports and hotels supported by AT&T Wireless and its Wi-Fi roaming partners. ( www.pctel.com ) ( attws.com )

Samsung and Staccato Communications announced an agreement to jointly develop ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for the wireless personal area network (WPAN) market and to collaborate on application development. Availability of initial chipsets will be based on the IEEE's emerging 802.15.3a standard. ( www.samsung.com ) ( www.staccatocommunications.com )

SBC and Qwest separately made announcements that will allow them to offer satellite TV services. SBC's agreement is with EchoStar Communications Corp. and involves a joint bundling service package; SBC is also investing $500 million in EchoStar. Qwest is developing co-marketing with DirecTV and EchoStar for satellite TV services in different markets. With DirectTV, Quest will jointly market satellite TV in Phoenix, Tucson and Seattle; with EchoStar, they will make DISH Network services available to customers in single-family homes in Colorado and Nebraska. ( www.sbc.com ) ( www.qwest.com ) ( www.echostar.com ) ( www.directv.com )


Briefly Noted

--MIMO

Is MIMO the new buzzword/acronym? Let's see if its usage keeps climbing over the next few months. MIMO refers to a technique of "Multiple Input, Multiple Output" and according to a press release from Airgo Networks, they are the first to incorporate it into their WLAN chipset to "improve the speed, range and reliability of 802.11-based wireless networks". The MIMO technique employs multiple antenna arrays at both the transmitter and receiver to enable the transmission of multiple signals at the same frequency, using the spatial dimension of the channel; MIMO communication links are said to provide multi-fold increases in link throughput in addition to dramatic reductions in fading. Add it to your lingo list! ( www.imec.be/wireless/mimo/mimo.shtml ) ( www.airgonetworks.com )

--Standards

The Consumer Electronics Association's Home Networking Committee (CEA-R7) said it has adopted a new standard for home networks called CEA-2008 -- The Digital Entertainment Network Initiative (DENi). The group said the standard was devised to make it easier for consumers to share content over a home network and to establish consistent interoperability between consumer electronics devices. The committee said the initiative collects existing standards and specifies how they work together. The standard is intended to enable interoperability between different manufacturers' audio, video and imaging devices by clarifying how more than 60 different standards interrelate. The standard calls for Internet Protocol (IP), with Ethernet as the common network platform, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) as the middleware, and a core set of supported audio and video formats. ( www.ce.org ) ( www.ce.org/press_room/press_release_detail.asp?id=10268 )


Celeria: Wireless Access To Cable Networks

A Guest Article by Inés Vidal Castiñeira

Note from the Editors: We are delighted to continue our series of guest articles by broadband experts with this contribution from Euskaltel, a full service cable and telephone operator in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain. Although Euskaltel already had a fiber ring infrastructure from which they reached end users with HFC and twisted pair, this approach was not cost effective for serving small municipalities. Instead, they developed a wireless approach to deliver digital video, cable modem and voice services to these customers. This LMDS-based approach provides the same services delivered over wires to urban users, consistent with Euskaltel’s backbone architecture, and using the same equipment at both the headend and the user premises for both wired and wireless customers.

Inés Vidal Castiñeira, Manager, Wireless Access for Broadband Services in Cable Networks, has been involved in and managing new services projects within the Technology Department. She has also been deeply involved with regional, national and international engineering and development projects. Inés graduated as a Telecommunications Engineer from the Bilbao Industrial and Telecommunications Engineering College, specializing in Telematics. Inés also participated in IAESTE, a student technical exchange program, during which she worked in Poland and Austria.


Introduction

Cable service in Spain is quite recent. In 1998 Telefonica’s monopoly was broken and 12 companies entered the market to provide telecommunication services over cable networks. They all got licenses in different areas of the country and committed to reach the majority of the customers in their areas in 15 years time.

Euskaltel is one of those cable operators born with the liberalization of the Spanish market. We are a Cableco and Telco Operator in the Basque Country in the north of Spain. We offer digital television, internet access (both narrowband and cable modem) and telephone service to residential customers and voice and data services to corporate customers, as well as ISP services.

We are deploying an overlay network, using a fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) scheme. We deliver TV and cable modem services with hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) and telephone services with copper twisted pair.

Our network is hierarchically organized into rings. The top level ones contain the main nodes and the equipment for service provision, and the bottom ones have the nodes closest to the user. For residential customers, each user node is planned for approximately 500 homes.

The Basque country, with around 2.1 million inhabitants and 700,000 households, is an area of contrasts. While five major cities have 42% of the population, 127,000 homes are in 184 small municipalities, with a population density below 100 homes/Km2. It is easy to serve the major cities, but the small municipalities make it very difficult to achieve economic profitability and meet the coverage commitments associated with our licenses.

Because of the long distance to our network nodes and the lower income in these smaller municipalities, an important part of our natural market would have to wait to be reached by our network if we used the same wired approach as in the larger communities. We therefore decided to develop a wireless approach to reach these markets faster.


Objectives

The objective of the Celeria project is to offer the standard “triple-play” service (telephony, cable modem and digital TV) to a broader market, without changing our network structure and with reasonable investments.

That is, we aimed:

  • to reduce the investment necessary to deploy our network in low-density environments, or where traditional deployment is not advisable (such as the older parts of towns);
  • keeping the same offer from the user point of view; and
  • using the same equipment, both at our headend and at the user premises.

Innovation In Euskaltel

The Department of Technology is in charge of research and development in Euskaltel. We provide the technological strategies for the company in the mid-to-long term, based on the business objectives of the Company.

We currently participate in several regional, national and international projects to deal with the need for new products and strategies to reach the customers. This includes Advanced IP-Services Platforms and several Broadband Radio Access systems:

  • Wireless Access for Corporate Customers (industrial areas. LMDS 26 GHz)
  • Wireless Access for Residential Clients (LMDS 28 GHz)
  • Wireless LAN 802.11b, including roaming
  • Satellite Interactive Services (DVB-RCS)

The Project

The Celeria project started in the beginning of 2001, as an initiative of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, Euskaltel and R, the cable operator servicing Galicia. We have developed a new concept in radio access solutions, meeting the frequency requirements imposed by the Spanish authorities and the needs of cable operators. The result is the first commercial LMDS system operating at 28 Ghz that allows DVB-C (digital video) and DOCSIS (cable modem) carriers to be successfully delivered to the customer’s home.

The DVB-C and DOCSIS carriers allow the provision of the same digital TV and cable modem services we offer to clients with HFC access. But an important part of the package, voice services – provided over copper twisted pair to our HFC customers -- would not be included for wireless customers. Introducing an additional carrier for voice would mean changing the whole telephonic schema of the company.

Instead, we decided to adopt VoIP technologies to deliver voice services over the wireless network. We chose CableLabs’ PacketCable specification for real-time services over two-way cable networks since it is based on DOCSIS architecture, thus leading to minor changes to our network. The adoption of the PacketCable solution required installing EMTA (Embedded Multimedia Terminal Adaptor) functionality at the customer premises to carry voice traffic over the cable modem data link, and installation of a voice gateway at our headend premises. Suppliers such as Thomson, Arris and Motorola already include EMTA capabilities in some of their cable modems, simplifying the customer solution.

We installed a VoIP gateway from Nuera to convey the telephone traffic from the IP network to the PSTN switch. The gateway is connected to the DOCSIS cable modem termination system (CMTS) at our cable headend; it extracts the voice traffic introduced into the network by the EMTA, transforms it into V5.2 and routes it to our circuit-switched telephone infrastructure.

This system provides carrier class telephony. All the telephone traffic between the EMTA at the customer premises and the VoIP gateway at our headend follows PacketCable standards. It flows over a controlled IP network with QoS enabled by DOCSIS 1.1. All telephone traffic, even traffic local to the IP network, goes through the switch, allowing us to use the same accounting scheme provided for our wired-access customers.

The Celeria service is a pre-commercial trial and is currently deployed in Derio, a small municipality near Bilbao airport and the Euskaltel offices. The 40 users are regular customers, who have signed up to receive voice calls, cable modem service and a basic digital TV offering. In the trial, there is no charge for the basic services, but the users are charged for premium TV services such as PPV and for any voice calls exceeding 12 €.

The decision as to whether Euskaltel will deploy this type of access network will be made by year end. Euskaltel’s commitment is to cover approximately 90% of the population of the Basque Country, which will be done deploying its standard HFC network in about 90 municipalities. Any additional/rural deployments are dependent upon the plans being drafted by different public administrations. In particular, open questions include:

  • Whether there is a requirement to provide digital television in these municipalities. If not, there are less costly technologies, e.g. operating at 3.5 Ghz, to provide telephony and broadband, but not digital TV.
  • The role of the incumbent operator in those plans (universal service).
  • The availability of public funding for other deployments.

Network Architecture

The picture shows the network architecture created for the trial:

The CATV Headend, the CMTS and the Telephony switch are the same we use to provide the service through our wired network, and only the new VoIP gateway was added to the original scheme.

We use eleven DVB-C carriers for conventional wired DTV service. These same carriers are mixed with a CM /DOCSIS carrier in the 710-822 MHz band, and constitute the downstream carried over the radio interface; the upstream consists only of the CM carrier. We used a QAM 64 modulation scheme for the downstream and QPSK for the upstream.

The transmission takes place in the 28 GHz LMDS bands defined for the trial by the Spanish regulatory institutions. For full-scale deployment, this frequency assignment will be revised to allow planning for a cellular deployment and the provision of the whole service offering of cable operators.

The LDMS system to transmit and receive in these bands was developed for the trial by IKUSI, a leading RF company based in the Basque Country. The Base Station and the User equipment (aerial + transceiver), can be seen in the figure.

After the air interface, the same equipment (DVB Set-Top Box and DOCSIS CM/EMTA) is used in the same way as in homes with HFC access. In fact, the home installation necessary for service provision is the same we use for customers with cable access, avoiding the need to train special staff for customer installation. This approach also facilitates conversion to wired service if an area with radio access becomes accessible to cable, just by changing the signal input point.


Conclusions

For the trial, 11 DVB-C digital television and one DOCSIS carriers were broadcast in a 90º sector. Tests revealed that the signal characteristics received at the customer premises were comparable to those transmitted through the HFC network, and that the signal-to-noise ratios were acceptable up to 2 Km from the base station.

A wireless deployment of this type would permit Euskaltel and many other operators to reach rural and other difficult areas, helping the democratization of access to broadband services.

We do not view this LMDS radio access to cable networks as a global substitute for traditional HFC access. Instead, we think it may provide a good option to shorten the time necessary for cable operators to reach areas that would require large investments for wired access, while allowing a transition to conventional access when the areas accessed initially through wireless are reached by HFC.

Celeria will allow operators to offer the same services earlier and cheaper, with a simple migration to HFC when traditional deployment reaches these areas.

( www.euskaltel.es ) ( www.telefonica.es ) ( www.mcyt.es ) ( r.mundo-r.com ) ( www.dvb.org ) ( www.cablemodem.com ) ( www.packetcable.com ) ( www.nuera.com ) ( www.ikusi.com )


Broadband Anywhere: The Extended Broadband Home


Introduction

Within the next ten years, many people will get broadband connections to their portable devices just about anywhere, just as they now get voice connections to their mobile phones. What is not so clear is the path by which we will get there, what technologies will be used, and which service providers will get the largest market share.

Back in the dark ages (the early 1980's) when Sandy was working on voicemail at AT&T, people kept telling her she had to be crazy: people wanted to talk to a real person--nobody would talk to a machine. Dave was working at the same time on the start of what became Prodigy, and based its architecture on home computers; many people thought he was crazy since very few homes had computers and they were all "toys" from Commodore, Radio Shack, and Apple. Now most people have voicemail and computers in the office and at home.

To get from those days to the present took many steps--both in the underlying technologies and services and in what consumers expected and became used to.

The move of broadband into the home is another of those changes that started with pundits writing a few years ago "only 1% of North Americans have broadband". Now we have passed the tipping point.

Here's some of what makes us believe that we are indeed on the path to extending the broadband home to "broadband anywhere".


User Behavior--One Key to Success

We're seeing changes in how people get information around their homes. As laptops have gotten cheaper and Wi-Fi home networking has taken off, it's no longer unusual to be surfing from your sofa, or completing a transaction from your outside patio, all while using your broadband connection.

When power went out on August 14th, New Yorkers (and millions of others) found many of their cell phones not working. Momentarily, the old fashioned payphone became important again. Payphones got people accustomed to making phone calls when away from home--and then were largely supplanted by mobile phones.

We see the beginnings of a similar trend toward people getting information and communicating via portable PCs and PDAs using Wi-Fi at hotspots. If you had a choice between getting your data and content wherever you happened to be, or having to go to a specific area like a Starbucks, airport or hotel lobby, there's little question that you'd opt for the former.

Both notions--having a broadband connection in and around the home, and having broadband while away from home--are starting to become part of the social fabric.


Succeeding with New Services

New ways of doing things evolve from the old ways when four forces come into alignment. The new way must be:

  • Useful--meets customer needs
  • Familiar--doesn't require radical behavior changes
  • Implementable--the technology can operate as part of a fully-functional system and services, and
  • Affordable--the technology and service costs are within the customer's willingness to pay.

The payphone/cellphone example shows that people's behavior does change over time. Mobile phones get customers used to portable communications devices. Broadband services get people used to always-on high speed connections. Wi-Fi home networking gets people accustomed to using broadband anywhere in the office and home, and hot spots are starting to get them used to having broadband while away from home. It's a natural progression to broadband anywhere.

When cell phones cost thousand of dollars and minutes cost nearly a dollar each, the mobile phone market was limited to business people with pressing and cost justifiable needs. As cell phones became virtually free and minutes came in ever bigger buckets, the consumer market took off. We believe that flat-rate pricing for home broadband means that consumers will not be willing to pay per-minute rates for broadband data away from home. The winning technologies will need to support a cost structure that gives some bundle for an affordable fee, perhaps as an add-on to a user's existing home broadband service.


Technologies for Broadband Anywhere

We are now seeing a wide variety of technologies which promise to make broadband available almost anywhere rather than only at hotspots. Some are logical extensions of--and closely coupled with--mobile phones; others are designed as "wireless metropolitan area networks" (WMANs). Some are based on standards, while others are proprietary.

There are currently six broad contenders for the "broadband anywhere" opportunity: Wi-Fi, proprietary, 3G, 4G, 802.16/WiMAX and 802.20. We don't think they can all be part of the future landscape, and we think the first two are unlikely to play major long-term roles in the wide area.

The success criteria for any of these is their ability to be used over wide areas, at broadband rates (megabits not kilobits) and at consumer price points. Which technologies and services will best meet consumer's needs? Which will be deployed broadly? Which will have the cost structure and deployment volumes to meet consumer willingness-to-pay?

Wi-Fi: A complementary role

The take-off in popularity and affordability of Wi-Fi created a whole new wave of enthusiasm and use. Based on the IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless local area networking (LAN), Wi-Fi was designed to operate in and near a building and it performs that job admirably. Enthusiasts have tried to extend its reach far beyond its intended design--from the LAN to the MAN. Wi-Fi's ready availability and low cost tempt companies to use Wi-Fi for broadband wireless coverage of a whole city--see Afitel - Wi-Fi in Zamora (http://www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0306_5.html#link5d).

We do not see Wi-Fi playing a major role in metropolitan area broadband. 802.11 wasn't designed to cover wide areas, to support mobility, or to scale as a carrier-grade network with thousands of users. It has a role, but primarily as a complementary solution and a "bridge" between home broadband and "broadband anywhere".

A couple of recent examples illustrate this emerging complementary role:

  • Verizon is offering Wi-Fi service from Verizon HotSpots around New York City at no additional charge for its DSL online customers, saying: "Does your current Internet provider give you free Wi-Fi access? Verizon Online does!"
  • SBC announced a plan to deploy hot spots in 6,000 locations over the next three years and create an integrated Wi-Fi and 3G wireless service to be called FreedomLink(SM). A spokesperson said customers who subscribe to most of the company's other communication services may get Wi-Fi free as a promotion.

Proprietary

More than 70 proprietary technologies are competing in the broadband WMAN market. Many were originally developed for broadband wireless access, providing wireless service to businesses and homes in competition with wired technologies like cable modems and DSL. Most of these were designed for fixed access (in a single place), and some are being extended for portable and mobile (driving around) use.

Recent announcements indicate some success in deploying these proprietary solutions. For example, U.S. Wireless Online announced plans for city-wide deployment in Louisville, KY of a non-line-of-sight, wide-area wireless broadband network using equipment from Navini Networks. Customers will be able to use their broadband connection anywhere in the coverage area: whether in another room of the house or office, by the pool, at the park or in a café.

The proprietary technologies suffer from relatively low penetration and relatively high cost, especially for the consumer equipment. They have succeeded mainly where wired broadband alternatives are not available.

Some of these technologies will likely be incorporated in evolving standards--indeed, Navini is an active participant in 802.20 (see below). As the standards reach maturity and volume deployments, we think most if not all of the proprietary technologies will fade away.

3G

In many ways the most logical way to get to broadband anywhere is through today's wireless carriers, who already serve millions of customers' mobile voice needs and some low-speed mobile data needs. They have the billing relationships, infrastructure, and support staff. Nearly all have announced 3G deployment plans as a smooth evolution from their existing technologies.

3G is rolling out, but quite slowly. We have all read the negative publicity about the enormous amount of money spent on 3G licenses and the slowness of companies to roll out 3G technologies. Part of this stems from the high costs of the equipment, doubts about the actual consumer applications and concern about whether user willingness-to-pay will cover the costs of the new equipment and services.

Most wireless mobile carriers are continuing with 3G deployments based on technologies developed prior to home broadband. Some analysts say that the limited aggregate bandwidth of these earlier 3G technologies will make it difficult if not impossible to provide simultaneous users with the megabit-per-second speeds users now take for granted, and to price these services to meet consumer expectations.

Other carriers are conducting trials and some have launched services based on later 3G technologies which come closer to meeting the speed and pricing expectations of consumers.

Recent announcements include:

  • IPMobile in Tokyo is providing trial subscribers with Internet access via their laptops or PDAs at up to 3 Mbps with portability and mobility. The mobile broadband network solution, supplied by IPWireless, has been deployed at three cell sites and uses the UMTS TD-CDMA standard.
  • IPWireless was also selected by AtlasONE for a national broadband wireless network in Malaysia.

4G

Many of the companies promoting newer proprietary technologies loosely refer to themselves as "4G", positioning themselves to wireless carriers as a follow-on or alternative to the "traditional" 3G technologies. The ITU has been studying 4G with the goal of formalizing standards by 2010 and beginning deployment in 2012.

We think the rapid uptake of home broadband and the emergence of competitive technologies will force carriers to move faster than the ITU's timetable, or be overtaken by events.

802.16/WiMAX

WiMAX is the newest player on the scene, providing a wireless broadband alternative to cable and DSL and including support for portable and mobile applications. The WiMAX Forum is promoting wide-scale deployment of wireless networks based on the IEEE 802.16 WirelessMAN and ETSI BRAN HIPERMAN and HIPERACCESS standards.

The IEEE 802.16 standards cover WMANs in the 2 to 66 GHz frequency bands; 802.16a, the standard for 2 to 11 GHz licensed and unlicensed bands, was ratified early in 2003. Unlike many earlier broadband wireless technologies, 802.16 is intended to allow non-line of sight operation and self-install capabilities.

ETSI--the European standards organization--is working closely with IEEE 802.16 to create compatible European standards, making it likely that a global standard for WMANs will be adopted by the end of this year.

This move toward global WMAN standards is intended to radically reduce the equipment cost, improve the performance, and provide interoperability. The WiMAX Forum aspires to play the same role for WMANs that the Wi-Fi Alliance has played so effectively for wireless LANs (WLANs): to accelerate the market for interoperable products, and to promote them to wireless providers and customers.

Until now, broadband wireless solutions have been based upon proprietary products from companies like Motorola, Alvarion, Proxim and hosts of others. WiMAX brings together players across the entire value chain--from microelectronics to test labs--to support a common standardized approach.

Intel is a strong mover in the WiMAX Forum and has said publicly that "WiMAX is the next key disruption after Wi-Fi." In addition to supporting and leading the WiMAX forum, Intel has also announced it will develop silicon products based on the IEEE 802.16a standard and is working with Alvarion, a wireless access equipment provider, to deliver low-cost WiMAX-certified equipment based on Intel's silicon. Fujitsu Microelectronics has also announced its commitment to producing an 802.16a and WiMAX-compliant silicon product.

The key to "broadband anywhere" is the emerging 802.16e, an add-on standard which supports WMAN operation in moving vehicles, handoffs between sectors and cell sites, and roaming. It is designed as an extension to and upward compatible from 802.16a, which means that WiMAX will extend to encompass fixed, portable and mobile broadband wireless MANs. This is expected to be completed in 2004, and we expect that 802.16a and .16e will merge in much the same way 802.11b and .11g have merged for WLANs.

We believe WiMAX is a very viable contender for broadband anywhere. The WiMAX Forum estimates that CPE cost will initially be less than $300 and will drop the same way Wi-Fi costs did. Base station costs also look affordable and the expected range and number of users supported seem reasonable. Interoperable 802.16a equipment is expected to be available from multiple vendors by the end of 2004, with 802.16e equipment by the end of 2005. We expect that proprietary equipment is likely to fade out in favor of this standard, since current WiMAX members account for a large percentage of the sub-11 GHz broadband wireless access equipment shipments worldwide.

802.20

IEEE 802.20--the Mobile Broadband Wireless Access Working Group formed in December 2002--represents a wild card. Although the parties deny it, there appears to be a clear competition between 802.16e and 802.20, with equipment vendors choosing one camp or the other. Arraycomm and Flarion are two of the very active vendor participants in this group. The primary difference in the objectives for .16e and .20 seems to be whether the priority is to optimize for mobility (the 802.20 position) or to have a common standard for fixed, portable and mobile broadband operation.


Conclusions

There is no doubt that people will get "broadband anywhere"--and that it will be a huge business opportunity for the winning equipment vendors and service providers. Who these will be remains unclear.

The key questions are the performance and costs of various solutions and how these will be translated to pricing. What speed do consumers want and need? How much will they use it? How much are they willing to pay in addition to what they now pay for nearly unlimited broadband use at home? Which service providers will try to meet these needs? Will 3G technologies meet these needs or fall far short? Will providers and consumers wait another decade for 4G or will WiMAX fill the space? Will existing wireless providers deploy WiMAX or will it be new entrants?

Since we think "broadband anywhere" is the logical extension of the broadband home, we'll keep watching this.

( www.wi-fi.org ) ( www.verizon.com ) ( www.sbc.com ) ( www.uswirelessonline.com ) ( www.navini.com ) ( www.ipwireless.com ) ( www.atlasone.net ) ( www.wimaxforum.org ) ( www.intel.com ) ( www.alvarion.com ) ( www.fujitsu.com ) ( www.ieee802.org/20 ) ( www.arraycomm.com ) ( www.flarion.com )


Voice is "Free"

Free Telecom, the largest French ISP after France Telecom, has joined the "we'll add voice for free" parade. It's the latest example of disruptive technology in action (http://www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0305_9.html). Free has been deploying DSLAMs all over France to deliver 2 Mbps broadband service to residential users for less than 30 euros per month. On July 31 Free announced that they will be offering free VoIP phone calls to all their DSL subscribers.

Fabien Maisl, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Cirpack, which is providing the next-gen telephony infrastructure, provided us the details, since our French is pretty shaky:

  • The French regulator has ruled that Free can provide their subscribers with phone numbers charged as local calls from anywhere in France, using the 0 870 numbers. This means that whenever someone calls a Free subscriber, they'll only pay for a local call.
  • The voice service is included in the monthly 29,99 € of the 2048 kbits DSL service for any wireline number within France, with no additional fee from the August 25th start date until the end of 2003.
  • Starting 01/01/2004, Free subscribers can make unlimited calls to other Free subscribers, and can call France Telecom subscribers for a maximum of 10 hours per month and then are billed 0.01 € / minute.
  • A large number of Free subscribers already have a VoIP enabled DSL modem, and will be able to activate online starting August 25th.

According to newtelephony.com Free Telecom has designed its own customer premises equipment. It is called the Freebox and includes Ethernet, USB telephone and video interfaces and is manufactured in France.

Fabien has offered to introduce us to Free Telecom's COO, since both he and we are speaking at Broadband World Forum, so we'll be able to follow up with more first-hand information next month.

( www.free.fr ) ( www.cirpack.com )


Your Voice -- Readers' Comments

Broadband Applications

Tai wrote from Malaysia to say: "... where I am, the usage/ availability of broadband services are limited (typically 384k/ 128k down/up) and can be costly. As a means to justify my own investment, I wanted to examine the many usages of BB and fast data transmission. On a practical basis, I as a home user envision using it to stream video, maybe hold a lil conferencing with my relatives overseas and entertainment download. Basically my question is; how would you envision broadband being applicable in daily lives; on a home basis and a business point of view?"

We told him about our topical site index and the Applications and Appliances page (http://www.broadbandhomecentral.com/guide_apps.html) that points to many of the articles on applications that we see as being important. We also said the content "is probably heavy on the lifestyle applications that focus on entertainment and spends less time on how to use broadband within the context of a home business--although it is essential to what we and many other people do from home."

If you haven't looked at our site index (http://www.broadbandhomecentral.com/guide.html) recently, you might find it helpful in locating articles on specific topics such as wireless networking, fiber access or telephony over broadband. Check it out!

Municipal Wireless

Esme Vos wrote from Amsterdam to say she "had just launched a site called Muniwireless.com, which is a portal for municipal wireless projects (Wi-Fi and wireless broadband)."

"Muniwireless.com is an initiative that I started because I found it so difficult to figure out which city/town is doing what when it comes to wireless projects. My coverage is worldwide and I have so far received emails from France, Sweden, the UK, the US, Spain, the EU's Directorate General, to name a few. If there are any municipal wireless projects that you consider worth mentioning on my site, please let me know about them and if you have the contact details for the persons involved, I would truly appreciate them."

We think that's a great idea, so if you have sites and information to add to Esme's site, you can email her at info@muniwireless.com .

Danny's "Screen on the Green"

Danny Briere, CEO of Telechoice and co-author of several "Dummies" books, wrote to fill us in on his "summer home networking project". He set up a "drive-in movie theater" in his backyard on Cape Cod. You can see the details here (http://www.smarthomesbook.com/outdoor.shtml).


Meet Us in London

Sandy and Dave (http://www.broadbandhomecentral.com/about.html) will be covering IEC's Broadband World Forum (http://www.iec.org/events/2003/bbwf/) in London, England from September 8-11. Sandy will be speaking on the topic "The Broadband Home: It’s Hard to Make It Easy" during a panel chaired by Nancy Goguen on Wednesday afternoon.

If you'd like to meet with us in London, please contact us at editor@bb-home.com so we can arrange it. If you will be at Broadband World Forum, please stop us and say "hi".


Broadband Jobs

Do you have job openings in the residential broadband industry? Please write us at editor@bb-home.com for a listing in our report and website.

Software Director 10-15 years experience, including team management. DOCSIS knowledge, experience in embedded RTOS development, network protocols, HFC and wireless access. The company is a new startup and the development center is based in Rennes, France. For more information, contact Jean-Charles Point at jcp-consult@wanadoo.fr .