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contents

16 Dynamic VOD Ads Advance The trials are over, and deployment has begun. Results will be
16 Dynamic
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Results will be part of the business equation.
Can MSOs make it work?

Show me the money!

 

features

HD is here, and everyone is competing for a piece of the subscriber pie. The new challenge for MSOs? Making sure their customers know how to program their new HDTVs with the high-def channel lineups.

  • 20 Is HD Now The New SD?

EXCELLENCE. VOL

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2010

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05

departments

columns

Broadband

14

Time flies when you're having fun, and Ron Hranac takes a walk down memory lane as he celebrates his 25th year as a contributor to CT.

Reality Check

30

Jim Farmer takes a look at both sides of the coin when it comes to 1 Gbps. Does it make sense? Yes! Does it make sense? No!

news opinion and

Publisher's Letter

6

CT Reports

8

  • FCC Chair Talks Spectrum at NAB 8

  • Comcast Hosts 3D Golf Parties 8

  • Cablecos Lag In Customer Ratings 10

  • Fiber Spending On The Rise 11

  • TA Buys Into Aurora Networks 11

  • Developers Get Fast-Track HDTV Tool 11

reference

Business/Classifieds 29

Advertiser Access

29

  • 24 Marketplace

Comcast wins its P2P case, but the decision will benefit the competition as well.

26 Optical Outlook

ROADMs are beginning to replace SONET when it comes to creating new bandwidth, with the promise of saving money.

28 Smart Home

CE vendors, chip makers and video providers are bringing client/server architectures to the home via RVU and CEA-2014.

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publisher’s letter

publisher’s letter Silver and Gold There’s an old scouting campfire song that goes like this: “Make

Silver and Gold

There’s an old scouting campfire song that goes like this:

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Those words will start to ring true to Communications Technology ’s readers during the next several months as this publication begins to ramp up its editorial content to include stories addressing next-gen business, converging technologies, competition and industry tactics, and best practices while adding even more value to our traditional market focus. The CT brand has been providing the cable industry with informative and actionable technical coverage for nearly 30 years. CT was serving its cable readers before triple and quadruple play, before VOD, and before the massive success of and hunger for high-speed data and bandwidth. We’ve covered them all and we will con- tinue to do so, but we also want to be ahead of the evo- lutionary power curve when it comes to new products, services, industry players and technology. As anyone in the communications industry knows, offering a good product mix (including the next big things) is key not only to survive but to thrive. The same goes for business publications, which also must refresh and retrench their news and views as never-ending de- velopments change the competitive landscape. The new

marketplace involves convergence, not complacence. The CT brand plans to give you with the best-possible industry coverage in the ways you want it delivered: on paper, as e-media on your PC or Mac, over the air and in a tweet, via Webinars and events, anywhere, anytime. Be on the lookout as we unveil new and engaging ways to keep you updated. To help make this happen, Debra Baker has joined the CT staff as editor, bringing with her nearly 30 years of experience in communications journalism and a fresh perspective on what kind of savvy insight CT can and should be offering its readers. Email her at dbaker @accessintel.com with your ideas and input. At the same time, I want to congratulate and thank an old CT friend, Senior Technology Editor Ron Hranac, for his 25 years of continued contributions to CT and to the industry as a whole. His expertise and insight have made the cable-business stream just a little bit easier to ford.

publisher’s letter Silver and Gold There’s an old scouting campfire song that goes like this: “Make

Tish Drake, Publisher

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may2010

ct reports

To subscribe to CT’s Reports, visit our Web site at www.cable360.net/subscribe/

Genachowski Talks Spectrum at NAB

Facing a potentially hostile audience of broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski broached the subject of spectrum reclama- tion at last month’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas. Prior to the chairman’s speech, NAB President Gordon Smith riled broadcasters by referring to the recently released National Broadband Plan as the "great spectrum grab," but Genachowski attempted to convince the audience that spectrum real- location is a good thing. (Editor's note: The FCC's National Broadband Plan calls for the recovery of 500 megahertz of spectrum during the next 10 years from multiple private and government users.) "More broadcasters are seeking to extend their reach beyond the traditional platform," he said. "We need to go where the audience is going - online and mobile." But he warned that demand for spectrum quickly will outstrip the supply, citing some facts: An advanced Internet-connected

smartphone generates 30 times the data volume of the cellphone it replaces. And data from multiple sources predict a 40-fold increase in mobile Internet demand - and that was before the introduction of the iPad. "While it's not the time to panic, it is the time to plan," he said. But what about broadcast spectrum? According to the chairman, “Some have suggested that all 300 megahertz now al- located to broadcasting should be reclaimed and auctioned. Others take the view that the status quo is fine; no change needed. The Broadband Plan recommends neither course. Instead, it lays out a well-balanced plan designed to be a win-win-win for broadcasters, mobile Internet providers and the American people.” The commission’s plan gives broadcasters the chance to enter into a voluntary incentive auction aimed at giving broadcasters “the choice to contribute their licensed spectrum to the auction and participate in the upside.” There are four salient points to the auction:

Auctions are voluntary. Participation is up to the licensee and no one else. For the plan to work, the FCC doesn’t need all, most or even very many licens- ees to participate. The commission anticipates mecha- nisms to reduce or even eliminate risk and to maximize upside for broadcast- ers that elect to participate in the auc- tion. The plan could allow broadcasters to set a reserve auction price below which their licenses wouldn’t transfer. And the mechanism could lock in a pay- ment for broadcasters while allowing for participation in upside above that level. Auction rules and mechanisms will be developed through an open and trans- parent process, with ongoing dialogue about the best design mechanisms for incentive auctions, focusing on what will actually work while meeting the country’s needs.

ct reports To subscribe to CT’s Reports, visit our Web site at www.cable360.net/subscribe/ Genachowski Talks Spectrum

– Linda Hardesty

Comcast Hosts 3D Golf Parties

Looking to get the word out, Comcast hosted 3D viewing events of the 2010 Mas- ters Golf Tournament to encourage new TV purchases. The MSO threw the invitation-only par- ties in several cities, showing two hours of live footage daily. For the Masters in 3D, Comcast trans- mitted the coverage in1080i side-by-side format to the Comcast Media Center, where it was packaged to 18.75 Mbps using MPEG 2 and a RealD multiplexer for final delivery to the home, according to a Comcast spokesman, who added, "This is the same rate that we typically deliver for live 2D HD sportscasts." Although David Broberg, VP of consumer video technology at CableLabs, has said the preferred format is the top/bottom solution,

the Masters was delivered in side-by-side format. Broberg described top/bottom as the horizontal offset between two images that preserves depth fidelity. Perhaps the side-by-side choice is one reason the Masters coverage didn't affect viewers in the same way as did "Avatar." Ac- cording to Gary Sasaki, president of digdia, "If you're a golfer, you're used to standing behind your partner as they're hitting the golf ball. Your experience might be more familiar, more comfortable in 3D." Comcast's promotional materials said, "Viewers will be able to experience the course's undulating greens, steep bunkers, countless azaleas and hundred-year-old trees." And the foliage apparently was im- pressive in 3D, providing depth interest that wasn't always apparent previously.

Sasaki said golf coverage requires at least one stereoscopic camera at the tee off, but highly action-oriented sports like basketball would require more 3D cameras. "The synchronization of cameras is easier to do with golf because you don't have to coordinate things with other cameras," he said. "With golf, you can control where people are. " Whether operators will be willing to spare more bandwidth for higher-quality 3D is yet to be seen. "For 3D, you're tending to allo- cate more bandwidth for precision and align- ment of pixels for left and right eye," Sasaki said. “Compression plays with the pixels. The less compression you have to deal with, the higher the fidelity of the image."

ct reports To subscribe to CT’s Reports, visit our Web site at www.cable360.net/subscribe/ Genachowski Talks Spectrum

– Linda Hardesty

8

may2010

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ct reports

To subscribe to CT’s Reports, visit our Web site at www.cable360.net/subscribe/

Competition Continues To Dog Cablecos

A survey update conducted by Rockville, MD-based ChangeWave Research found that, by a wide margin, fi ber-optic TV subscribers remain the most satisfi ed customers – with 44 percent reporting they are Very Satisfi ed with their television service provider. This compares with 27 percent for satellite-TV subscribers and just 14 percent for cable subscribers. As far as individual fi ber-optic TV providers are concerned, Verizon FiOS (49 percent Very Satisfi ed) continues to maintain its strong lead over the rest of the industry in customer satisfaction, with Bright House (37 percent) in second place and AT&T U- verse (34 percent) in third. ChangeWave analysts Andy Golub and Paul Carton also found that fourth-place

DirecTV (32 percent) continues to hold a substantial lead over its other major satellite competitor, Dish Network (22 percent). Notably, no other TV provider had a Very Satisfi ed score of more than 13 percent, and a string of cable companies did worse. Respondents also were polled on churn. Some 11 percent overall plan to switch providers sometime during the next six months, up 1 percentage point from ChangeWave’s October 2009 survey. Among those planning to switch, price (58 percent) remains the Number One reason. Moreover, the percentage of respondents citing price has surged more than 50 percent during the past 18 months – in large part due to the recession – and there still are no signs of a reversal to this trend, ChangeWave said.

More important, fi ber-optic custom- ers exhibit the lowest churn rate (only 6 percent said they’ll switch), considerably better than their satellite (10 percent) and cable counterparts (12 percent); only 4 percent of Verizon FiOS customers plan to go elsewhere. Cablecos Cox (8 percent of subs plan to leave) and Bright House (9 percent will exit) are next, followed by the AT&T U-verse service (10 percent) and sat- ellite companies Dish Network (10 percent) and DirecTV (11 percent). Bringing up the rear are the rest of the cable providers – including Comcast (12 percent will change), Cablevision (13 percent), Time Warner (14 percent) and Charter (18 percent). Moving forward, the ChangeWave survey found that DirecTV (23 percent, up 3 percentage points since the last poll) is lead- ing among the major providers in terms of

future marketshare gains. In a virtual tie for second are the two fi ber providers – Verizon

FiOS (18 percent, down 4 points) and AT&T

U-verse (17 percent, down 5 points). Dish

Network is further back at 11 percent, with

the cable companies again coming in last. Long term, the survey showed cable companies facing the toughest road ahead.

However, while most cable providers lag in terms of churn rates, future demand and

customer satisfaction, ChangeWave points

to one major advantage they hold – a huge

installed customer base.

Having said that, the fast-emerging Alter- native TV market, including the rapid move-

ment toward Internet-connected TV, poses

both competitive threats and potential

opportunities for traditional TV service pro-

viders. Some 10 percent of ChangeWave’s

respondents have used their TVs to access

the Internet during the past six months;

however, 14 percent said they plan to do so

during the next six months.

What are they watching? The vast

majority (56 percent) is watching movies,

but others are gaming, YouTubing and

info surfi ng.

ct reports To subscribe to CT’s Reports, visit our Web site at www.cable360.net/subscribe/ Competition Continues To
10 may2010
10
may2010

ct reports

   

and stimulus funds. While a large portion of the FTTH deployment thus far has been due to Verizon's $23 billion investment in overbuilding its wireline service in many areas, the report noted that FTTH is being deployed by more than 750 North American service providers, most of those being small, independent telephone companies that are replacing their copper lines with end-to-end fiber to help ensure their future competitive- ness as broadband providers. Further, the study found that more than 65 percent of small independent telcos that have not upgraded to FTTH said they would “very likely” do so in the future, with another 11 percent saying they were “somewhat likely.” More than 85 percent of those that have deployed FTTH said they would be add- ing more direct fiber connections going forward.

and stimulus funds. While a large portion of the FTTH deployment thus far has been due

Devs Enter HDTV On Ramp

The popbox SDK enables developers to take Adobe Flash applications and make them popapps; apps will be available soon to consumers via their popboxes. The SDK hooks into the popbox UI to handle remote commands, to ex- ecute widgets and to load app-specific data. New popapps could play videos, music and photos; read and write content metadata; and access files on mounted drives and UPnP servers from the home network or media from the cloud.

The popbox SDK enables developers to take Adobe Flash applications and make them popapps; apps will

Fiber Spending On The Rise

Hundreds of small independent telcos, broadband service providers, mu- nicipalities and cable TV operators have brought gigabit-enabled, all-fiber service to a total of more than 1.4 million North American homes - about a quarter of all fiber to the home (FTTH) connections on the continent - according to a report from the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. The study, conducted by RVA Market Research, found that all-fiber networks now are now to 16 percent of homes in North America, with 5.8 million homes now receiving TV, high-speed Internet and/or phone service via these networks. Mike Render, president of RVA LLC and author of the study, said there are many reasons independent telcos are flocking to FTTH, including the need to replace aging copper lines, the oppor- tunity to include video in their service offerings and, in some cases, the avail- ability of rural broadband loan programs

Aurora Gets Private Equity Infusion

Private-equity provider TA Associates has acquired, through a secondary purchase from existing shareholders, a minority stake in Aurora Networks. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. Founded in 1999, Aurora Networks is a pure-play optical transport solution provider focused solely on cable net - work operators. The company’s array of products includes optical transmit - ters, node platforms and Ethernet equipment. Jason Werlin, a vice president at TA Associates, will join Aurora's board of directors.

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broadband

2010 1985
2010
1985

By Ron Hranac, Senior Technology Editor

broadband 2010 1985 By Ron Hranac, Senior Technology Editor A Quarter Century of Words This issue

A Quarter Century

of Words

This issue marks 25 years since I started writing for Communications Technology—my first article ap- peared in May 1985. Back then, Paul Levine was publisher, Toni Barnett was editor, and Wayne Lasley—the guy who con- vinced me to start writing for CT—was managing editor. It had been just two months since Paul wrote of celebrating the magazine’s first anniversary.

Way before Nirvana

What were cable’s hot topics in 1985? SCTE, ampli- tude modulated link (AML) microwave, dabbling in FM video transmission over fiber, addressable con- verters, preventive maintenance, new signal leakage rules, and ever-expanding system bandwidth are a

few that come to mind. SCTE, at the time known as the Society of Cable Television Engineers (the name wouldn’t change to Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers until 1995), introduced its Satellite Tele-Seminar

program the previous year, and the first train- ing seminar was trans- mitted on Galaxy I’s transponder 3 Tuesday,

divide systems into smaller service areas. This was done using multichannel point-to-multipoint signal transmission in the local distribution service portion of the 12.7-13.2 GHz CARS (cable television relay service) microwave band. What eventually came to be known as hybrid fiber/ coax (HFC) using AM transmission over fiber was still a few years away, although FM video transmis- sion was used in some supertrunk applications. The outside plant architectures of the mid-1980s were variations of all-coax tree-and-branch.

Sweeps and leaks

Preventive maintenance was an important part of the technical arsenal in the mid ’80s. In particu- lar, cable operators were paying more attention to system sweeping. Remember the sweep gear from Avantek and Wavetek? When it was used, there were no surprises: As outside plant was swept and the various gremlins that caused frequency

response problems were fixed, picture quality improved and service calls went down! There was an

” Sweeping and leakage control seemed to be made for each other.“

February 19, 1985. That first Satellite Tele-Seminar featured then SCTE At-Large Director Richard Covell, and was titled “dBs and dBmVs.” Richard’s seminar was recorded at the University of Denver by Jones Intercable and the SCTE’s Rocky Mountain Meeting Group. The Society’s Technical Tuition Assistance Pro- gram was authorized by Board of Directors in 1985, and initially funded by matching donations from Rex Porter and National Cable Television Institute.

The BCT/E certification program was officially intro- duced at that year’s third annual Cable-Tec Expo in Washington, D.C., and the first exam was Category IV “Distribution Systems.” SCTE’s Interval was a small beige booklet included with each issue of CT. Hughes AML microwave equipment was still wide- ly used in many cable networks, helping operators break up those long trunk amplifier cascades and

increasing emphasis on getting signal leakage under control, largely in anticipation of the FCC’s pending new rules. The Commission had issued a Second Report and Order in Docket 21006, and upcoming requirements included much of what’s on the books today. Some of the new regulations about to descend upon cable operators mandated quarterly monitoring of the entire system, fixing leaks within a reasonable period of time, leakage performance verification prior to the carriage of signals and an annual “snapshot” of leakage performance in the form of something called cumulative leakage index. (The latter reminds me of one of my pet terminol- ogy peeves, right up there with dB versus dBmV:

One does not measure CLI or fix CLI. That is, CLI is not the same thing as signal leakage. Rather, CLI is a number that represents the severity of leakage at

a given point in time, and must be cal- culated after leakage measurements are performed. OK, off the soapbox.) Like system sweeping, fixing leaks almost always resulted in improved pic- ture quality and fewer service calls, but also made it easier to sweep the plant. Sweeping and leakage control seemed to be made for each other.

Converters, amps

As system RF bandwidths expanded, more channels were added to fill the spectrum. The availability of new satel- lite programming continued—remem- ber, it was only 10 years earlier that HBO’s first satellite transmission had occurred—and conditional access tech- nology was front and center. In the 1980s, addressable converters were available from some companies that are still around today, though the names have changed. For instance, Jerrold be- came General Instrument, Next Level, back to General Instrument, and fi- nally Motorola; Scientific-Atlanta, which called its converters “set-top terminals,” is now Cisco. But do you remember ad- dressable boxes from the likes of Mag- navox, Sprucer, Tocom and Zenith? Looking at the display ads in a copy of the May 1985 CT , it’s interesting to see which vendors are still here today, which ones merged with or were ac- quired by others and which ones are no more. Wegener Communications has a full- page ad on the inside front cover, and Eagle Comtronics is on the next page. Both companies are still part of today’s industry. Eagle’s ad promoted its 500 MHz taps, which were pretty much state-of-the-art, considering that typical cable system upper frequency limits topped out at 330, 400, 440 or 450 MHz. There were still a bunch of 220, 270 and 300 MHz systems in operation, which were target markets for bandwidth expansion: The Jerrold Division of General Instrument was advertising 330 MHz drop-in mod- ules for its Starline 20 SJ series ampli- fiers. The May issue included three feature articles about outside plant powering,

one on new FCC rules pertaining to an 18 GHz allocation for CARS microwave, one on system sweeping, and one on equipment reliability prediction. My first article, titled “Getting the most out of your bench sweep,” appeared in the system economy category of the magazine’s departments. Other categories under departments included preventive maintenance, tech tips (this was different than the “Tech Book” series that Bruce Catter and I coauthored later) and con- struction techniques. Bob Luff and Ike Blonder were regular columnists.

Big changes

Fast forward to 2010. We don’t use the term "converter" anymore; those boxes in customers’ homes are called set-tops. Perhaps the folks at SA were prescient? Modern digital set-top features and functionality are a far cry from that of their addressable converter predecessors. Long ago state-of-the-art systems were 450 MHz; today, 1002 MHz is the norm.

Instead of using AML microwave to divide our systems into smaller service areas, AM fiber technology does that. Signal leakage and ingress are more important than ever, although preventive maintenance and system sweeping don’t always get the attention they should. Where would we be without cable modems and high-speed data? Analog TV channels are on the way out, being replaced by standard and high-def digital video. And who would’ve thought in 1985 that today’s largest cable companies would also be counted among the largest telephone companies? A lot has changed in cable since the mid-Eighties, nearly all for the better. I’m truly grateful to have had a forum in Communications Technology during the past quarter of a century.

a given point in time, and must be cal- culated after leakage measurements are performed. OK,

Ron Hranac is a technical leader, broadband network engineering, for Cisco and senior tech- nology editor for Communications Technology. Reach him at rhanac@aol.com.

a given point in time, and must be cal- culated after leakage measurements are performed. OK,

from trial is

shift

The

deployment

to

underway

(finally)

DYNAMIC VOD
DYNAMIC
VOD

Ads Advance

by Linda Hardesty

The technology gives something to operators, advertisers, programmers and subscribers. Now it’s becoming a business equation.

  • C omcast has issued no for- mal announcement, but the MSO appears to be expanding its dynamic video-on-demand (VOD)

advertising capability beyond an initial trial and across its larger footprint. In

October, Comcast and advanced advertising technology company BlackArrow said they were trialing dynamic VOD advertising in Comcast’s Jacksonville, FL, system.

16

may2010

That was six months ago. Momentum looks to be building. “Use of the word ‘trial’ in the cable in- dustry is new to me,” said Troiano. “I’d say it’s a deal, rolling across Comcast markets as we speak.” The idea of combining VOD with tar- geted ads has been around for many years along with high expectations. “VOD Ads Ready To Take Off”—that was a MediaPost- News headline from August 30, 2002. Eight

years later, that headline may fit today’s re- alities. The timing of the Comcast initiative, at any rate, looks fortuitous. As it rolls out dynamic VOD advertis- ing capability, Comcast has also joined with seven other operators and a group of movie studios to launch a $30 million marketing campaign,promoting VOD. The three-month ad campaign, developed in conjunction with the Cable & Telecom- munications Association for Marketing

(CTAM), is titled “The Video Store Just Moved In.” At a time when more folks are watching online video, the CTAM campaign hopes to show consumers that VOD is more con- venient than going out to a video store and more comfortable than watching streaming video at a computer. Participants in the marketing campaign include Armstrong, Bend Broadband, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Cox Communications, Insight Communications and Time Warner Cable, along with studio partners: 20th Cen- tury Fox, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Rogue, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Summit En- tertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The marketing push should give opera- tors a boost in their pay-per-view revenue. And dynamic VOD advertising holds the promise of increased ad revenues as well. Apart from Comcast, other operators are working on dynamic VOD advertis- ing.In the first three months of 2010, Bresnan Communications conducted a dynamic VOD advertising trial in its

Montana markets of Billings, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. The operator inte- grated products from ARRIS, Avail-TVN and BlackArrow. In the past, VOD programming could only accommodate static VOD ads that were baked into an asset. The advertiser had to provide the ad 45-90 days in advance of its play to give the programmer time to embed the ad asset into the program. “Now, at Comcast and Bresnan, we have a clean asset,” said Troiano. The TV show is sent independent of creative assets and the ads are inserted at time of play. “It’s akin to how things work on the Internet,” he said.

Cox Advances, too

Comcast and Bresnan aren’t the only ones pinning hopes on dynamic VOD advertis- ing. The U.K.-based Virgin Media (see page xx) is rolling out the technology in 2010, as is Cox Communications. “We’ve already done true dynamic ad insertion,” said David Porter, VP of adver- tising product development for Cox Media, the advertising services division of Cox.

In 2009, Cox Media and NBC Universal conduced a test, inserting different adver- tisements into two of NBC’s programs of- fered the day after initial airing. The trial was conducted in Cox’s Phoenix, AZ, system. During the test, up to four ads in a program were refreshed several times per week, including ads at the beginning of the program as well as ads within the program, known as interior breaks. “We started to realize VOD was a compet- itive differentiator for cable operators,” said Porter. “VOD brings the convenience and control of the Internet. VOD also preserves the economics of the TV ecosystem.” Porter wouldn’t name systems, but indi- cated a corporate commitment. “Through 2010, we’re going to be rolling out dynamic ad insertion one market at a time, and en- gaging one network at a time,” he said. The process involves installation of ad insertion equipment and making it work with different components, playout gear, reporting gear and back office systems. “It’s not a quick, simple process,” Por- ter said. “We’ve got about 18-20 different unique headends.”

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Virgin Media Layers Dynamic Ads

     

Video-on-demand (VOD) often provides cable operators with an important competitive edge. Yet VOD solutions and the market dynamics can be complex. Many of today’s subscribers, for instance,

   

Look for that revenue to change, and not just from more bumper ads. Adding dynamic ad insertion to the VOD infrastructure introduces both opportunity and complexity. This is particularly true for VOD

expect nearly unlimited programming, enabled with trick-play control and deliverable to multiple devices.

advertising that goes beyond simple associative bumper ads to a more sophisticated system.

Operators count on VOD to improve customer satisfaction. With dynamic VOD ad solutions in play, they are looking to generate new advertising opportunities and revenue streams. How realistic are these expectations?

The road map for these technologies have subscriber, ad and content profiles being used by the operator’s advertising management system to select the ads inserted based on the interests of the viewer, the content of

 

the ad, the context of the

viewing and the focus of the show.

From trial to live

Virgin’s current advertising relies upon associations between content of

affirming that a system doesn’t need to be complex to provide a surprising

U.K.-based cable operator Virgin Media has the real-world experience to answer that question. In October 2008, Virgin initiated a trial using ad inser- tion technology from SeaChange. The operator concluded the 100,000-cus-

any, are appropriate and then dynamically rewrites that playlist and delivers

shows and ads, and the viewer’s context. Their production experience is

amount of value to operators, advertisers and subscribers.

tomer trial last year. Among its results were significant increases in brand

Operators, advertisers

and subscribers are seeing real process improve-

and product awareness, ad awareness, and ad campaign effectiveness. A year later, Virgin began rolling out this feature across its footprint, which includes 3.7 million digital cable subscribers. That deployment is continuing throughout 2010. Here’s what the solution does today. Each time a subscriber starts a VOD session, the system creates a playlist and determines which ads, if

ments from dynamic VOD advertising. Unbundling the ad from the content gives operators flexibility while reducing the duration and complexity of the ad placement and reporting cycle. Single-copy ads liberate advertisers from ad insertion duties, ads are quickly and easily modified, and reporting is more useful. Viewers value and respond to ads that carry relevance. Everyone likes what’s going on. “The technology is here,” noted Broughton. “It’s been here for several years. The issue is in the value chain:

it in real time.

 

Are the operators, broadcasters, and advertisers ready?”

“Determining which ads are appropriate involves ad-related and content- related information plus context: the time of day, where the subscriber lives,

Market, not technology

and – in the future – more information on the subscribers past viewing and purchasing behaviors,” said Malcolm Stanley, SeaChange director of adver- tising product management. The system reports back on all ad impressions and subscriber viewing activities: how long they viewed the ad, fast-forwarding or skipping the ad. While strong VOD usage rates indicate happy subscribers (For 4Q09, Virgin reported 35 views per user per month) increased ad revenues should make the operator happier. One key is leveraging existing assets. “At this point, the advertising spots

How these advertisements will be sold remains a work in progress. “In a manner of speaking, baby steps are required on the part of the operators and the advertisers who want reach the consumers,” Stanley said. The market is feeling its way toward the value propositions that will enable billion-dollar revenue streams. “This isn’t a technology issue; this is a real market issue. The players must agree on the market proposition before they can enable the revenue streams to reach that volume,” observed Stanley. For operators, advertisers are the crux. “When you discuss with advertis- ers what they want today, they are looking for the accountability, efficiency

are placed around approximately 30 series that are

a part of Virgin’s VOD

and velocity that you see

more often in Internet environments than televi-

inventory,” explained Richard Broughton, Senior Analyst at Screen Digest. “Virgin’s VOD usage today is dominated by free content: catch-up viewing and archive materials. Pay-per-view films are less than five percent of the on-

sion environments,” says Stanley. “Virgin Media’s dynamic advertising brings a lot of that accountability and that efficiency to the television experience and the on-demand aspect of AdPulse provides the real-time

demand views, but provide most of the operator’s VOD revenue.”

velocity that advertisers enjoy in Internet environments.”

For the Phoenix test, Avail-TVN, SeaChange International and Texscan NT collaborated to support the end- to-end workflow required for dynam- ic ad insertion. Porter said Cox used SeaChange’s AdPulse product, but “I’m not suggesting that’s the one and only,” he said. “The goal here is to use open standards.”

 

advertiser to target a specific network for VOD ads. For instance, a garden shop might want to place ads on HGTV on demand programming, or a hospital may want to buy VOD ads on Discovery Health. “Nine out of 10 AdPulse buys are in- corporated in the overall campaign,” said Misty Jensen, general sales manager with

much finer targeting into its VOD advertis- ing such as geographics and demographics. Once dynamic VOD technology is in- stalled and tested and ads are being sold on a regular basis, the technology may offer the opportunity to target ads based on specific shows and viewer behavior, as well. “We’re not doing that right now,” said

much finer targeting into its VOD advertis- ing such as geographics and demographics. Once dynamic VOD

Sunflower links ads, nets

Sunflower Broadband. “Sunflower is using targeting that ad-

Porter. “Let’s get insertion gear deployed to all our markets first.”

Sunflower Broadband in Lawrence, KS, uses SeaChange’s AdPulse product to do pre- and post-roll VOD ads for local avails. At this point, Sunflower just allows an

vertisers are very familiar with,” said Cox’s Porter. “That’s a good way to start. But it is by no means the end game.” He said Cox eventually wants to bring

Linda Hardesty is associate editor of Commu- nications Technology. Reach her at lhardesty@ accessintel.com.

18

may2010

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HD Is

Now The NEW SD?

Most so-called HD households still have plenty of SD TVs. The transition is further complicated by
Most so-called HD households still have plenty of SD
TVs. The transition is further complicated by consumer
challenges in figuring out how to make channel
lineups work on their new digital HDTVs.
By George Lawton
T here is no doubt HD is the future of TV. HD is a
key driver for new premium revenues and a hook
for high-end subscribers, it’s becoming standard
in free-to-air TV broadcasts and the number of
HDTV-enabled households is rapidly growing.
“Yes, we see a migration from SD to HD similar to the transi-
tion from broadcasting in black and white to color,” said Gil
Katz, senior director of Cable Solutions and Strategy at Har-
monic Inc. “I would anticipate that most of the channel lineup
will be HD in about two years time.”
In many ways, HD is not standard, and here’s why: The FCC
still considers even the most basic set-top box with HD support
to be a smart box requiring expensive encryption; most so-called
HD households still have plenty of SD TVs that are not going

away any time soon; and the transition is further complicated by consumer challenges in figuring out how to make the channel lineup work on their new digital HDTVs. As Katz noted, “Legacy considerations in cable networks will mean that, for some time, operators will need to simulcast SD side by side with HD, in MPEG-2, with a longer-term transition to MPEG-4.” HDTV excitement has been building since its first public broadcast in North Carolina in 1996. Initially, it almost was a gimmick until the early 2000s, when the Digital Video Broadcasting group formally adopted HDTV standards. Once the standards

20

may2010

were in place, over-the-air TV broadcast- ers were supposed to make the transition to digital in 2005, but they dragged their feet all the way to 2009, when analog TV officially shut down. This lag gave HDTVs a chance to come down in price, thus driving consumer adoption for the new format. Cable opera- tors, satellite providers and such telcos as Verizon and AT&T have begun competing to expand their HD service line-ups, real- izing it can be a competitive differentiator to attract high-end customers likely to spend more on high-tier channel line-ups and on-demand services. According to ABI analyst Michael In- ouye, “The market has moved toward HD for North American cable in general.” He estimated that around 7 million of the 19 million cable boxes that shipped last year supported North American HDTV.

Who’s Outdoing Whom?

At first, there was considerable hype around which provider had more HD services, and providers would one-up each other by expanding their line-ups. “But it is less of a differentiator now,” Inouye noted. All of the major video providers now top or nearly top 100 HD channels, accord- ing to the AV Sciences Forum, which has been tracking the competition for some time (for more information, go to http:// www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread. php?t=1058081). Verizon leads the pack with 165, followed by AT&T (160), Time Warner (150), Comcast (138), Dish (123), Cox (90) and DirecTV (88). With limited channel line-ups, opera- tors are finding other ways to out-HD each other. The cable and telco terrestrial provid- ers are promising thousands of HD choices on demand, which they can offer thanks to local servers in their headends that transmit individual feeds to a consumer’s home. However, satellite providers can’t keep up with these extensive lineups because their bandwidth is shared nationwide (compared with a cable headend’s smaller footprint). Consequently, they have adopted a differ- ent strategy to offer higher-quality 1080p HD on demand for a few premium movies. These are delivered in the wee hours of the night to special satellite set-top boxes with digital video recorders (DVRs). In theory, 1080p (progressive) refreshes each line every cycle in order to provide

22

may2010

twice the resolution of 1080i (interlaced), which only refreshes every other line -- but this is the case only if the consumer has the right TV. At the moment, the only other way to get genuine 1080p video is through Blu-ray discs or special IPTV set-top boxes. On the other hand, higher quality isn’t not a sure bet over variety when it comes to consumer decision-making. Just look at the explosion of the iPod and the growth in the market for lower-quality MP3 music at the expense of higher-quality CD music. As a result of this transition, industry research has found that the market for all music has shrunk from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $9.2 billion in 2008, CD sales are contributing a smaller and smaller share.

Nothing’s ‘Standard’ Yet

A big part of the debate over what consti- tutes a standard is the Federal Communica- tion Commission’s definition of “advanced” and “basic” set-top boxes. Currently, the FCC considers any set-top box that pro- vides HD service to be an “advanced” set-top box, requiring a separable security based on the CableCARD standard. While this “standard” was intended to help drive down the cost of consumer equipment, it actually has had the op- posite effect, said Brent Smith, president of Evolution Digital, who explained that, for a variety of technical and marketing reasons, operators end up spending $250 per box to get CableCARD-enabled set- tops compared with between $30 and $40 for a basic SD digital box. “The FCC has been on the fence as to whether HD is an advanced or basic service,” said Smith. “When the FCC wrote these definitions, HD was seen as a unique advanced feature. Now that broadcasters have converted to HD, it is hard to see how they could classify HD as an advanced product.” The commission has granted a few waivers for digital HD set-tops on a sys- tem-by-system basis, but this is both time- consuming and expensive, especially for smaller operators. Today, equipment ven- dors are trying to get FCC exemptions for basic HD-equipment that would allow any operator to provide basic service with integrated conditional access security. In June 2009, Evolution Digital submitted another waiver request for low-cost HD- boxes. “If the FCC decides to qualify HD as

a ‘basic’ functions, then these boxes could be deployed into the network to support low-cost HD services,” said Smith. Massillon Cable has been one of the pioneers in transitioning from analog to digital; and it was one of the first cable operators to get a waiver for digital SD set-tops, which allowed it to reclaim bandwidth for adding another 70 HD channels. However, the cableco was sur- prised to discover how many of its cus- tomers still were clinging to analog TVs. As such, Massillon needed to distribute some 100,000 digital adaptors to its 47,000 video customers. Bob Gessner, president of Massillon, said even customers with new digital TVs had been watching analog because they didn’t know how to program their new sets to receive digital broadcasts. When their new TVs first were installed, cus- tomers saw a larger picture that looked nicer than the picture on their existing 20-year-old TVs. They thought to con- duct a channel scan because the analog video was already there on the screen. So, when Massillon finally cut all ana- log services, a lot of digital TVs went dark. “That took us off guard because we did not realize that so many people were watching analog channels on their digital TVs,” Gessner said.

Tradeoffs

There is no doubt HD will become the new SD, but the transition will be a bumpy one, forcing operators to mull over many options. In the complicated calculus of cable profits, they must bal- ance the technical tradeoffs in offering more channels, more video-on-demand and higher quality with keeping the lives of their “basic” customers simple. As Ludovich Milin, manager of Cable Product Marketing at BigBand Networks, explained, “The implications of contin- ued growth in HD and rollouts of 3D will require greater focus on digital video networking/video processing technologies, which can cost-effectively accommodate these bandwidth intensive services and en- sure high-quality video experiences. Fur- ther developments for HD rate-shaping and HD ad splicing also will be needed.”

were in place, over-the-air TV broadcast- ers were supposed to make the transition to digital in

George Lawton is a frequent CT contributor. Reach him at glawton@gmail.com.

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Marketplace

Comcast 1, FCC

Politicians and regulatory offi cials alike are pondering how next to approach net- work neutrality following the recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Co- lumbia Circuit decision that ruled in favor of Comcast by reversing a 2008 Federal Communications Commission order that barred the operator from interfering with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking applications, including video downloads. This order could have far- reaching ramifi cations when it comes to competition, not only for bandwidth but for customers. In a written statement attributed to Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president /Gov- ernment Communications, Comcast said, “We are gratifi ed by the Court’s decision today to vacate the previous FCC’s order. Our primary goal was always to clear our

0

blocking BitTorrent traffi c as part of network management, adding “video distribution poses a particular competitive threat to Comcast’s video-on-demand (VOD) service.”In fact, the FCC included this statement in its Comcast P2P order:

“…If cable companies such as Comcast are barred from inhibiting consumer access to high-defi nition on-line video content, then…consumers with cable modem service will have available a source of video programming (much of it free) that could rapidly become an alternative to cable television. The competition provided by this alternative should result in downward pressure on cable television prices, which have increased rapidly in recent years.” The three-judge panel disagreed.

There is some question regarding the words “open” and “vibrant” when it comes to who really will prosper from broadband services in the long and short term.

name and reputation. We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want. Comcast remains committed to the FCC’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to in- crease broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.” There is some question regarding the words “open” and “vibrant” when it comes to who really will prosper from broadband services in the long and short term. In its original order, the FCC said it was promoting video competition by determining Comcast had violated its Internet open-access principles by

Winners and losers

However, even with what looks like a ruling that errs on the side of “let the marketplace decide,” to some, the 36- page opinion crafted by Circuit Judge David S. Tatel bolsters the biggest broadband players – i.e., Comcast, AT&T and Verizon – perhaps at the expense of smaller players or new entrants that may be entering the fi eld as a result of broadband stimulus cash. Katherine Waldron, CEO of Waldron and Associates, an IT and telecom con- sulting company focused on broadband projects, said, "With the ability of the major providers to freely discriminate, now more than ever we need to ensure that true competition exists and that there are multiple viable multiple players

24

may2010

if we are to remain globally competitive in our communications abilities.” Waldron and her partner Christopher Campbell directed the submission of a second-round BTOP application for the Florida community colleges, independent colleges and universities, and Florida Public Broadcasting stations. Their clients requested $103 million to interconnect these institutions onto a high-speed backbone network to enhance education statewide as well as to stimulate job growth and economic development.

What to do?

According to Jeffrey S. Silva, senior policy director/Telecommunications, Media and Technology at Washington, D.C.-based Medley Global Advisors LLC, there are two options the FCC and “pro- net neutrality Democratic lawmakers” could entertain. One involves the FCC reclassify- ing broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a regulation-heavy common-carrier regime; this battle has played out in the wireless and wireline telecom industries. Such a prospect has prompted Verizon and AT&T to counter that Congress should step in to update the 1996 Telecom Act, Silva said. Another alternative is standalone net-neutrality legislation, though the chances of mov- ing a bill this year appear slim. “While the Appeals Court decision is a blow to the FCC, it should be noted that neither legal clarity nor regulatory uncertainty implicated by the Comcast ruling are necessarily absolute,” Silva said. “Legal decisions are based on fact- specifi c issues presented to the court. A different set of circumstances can yield a different legal outcome. More- over, laws can change and regulatory formulations can be altered to achieve a desired result if there is political will for change. Few things are ever fi nal in offi cial Washington.”

Marketplace Comcast 1, FCC Politicians and regulatory offi cials alike are pondering how next to approach

– Debra Baker

Optical Outlook

The ROADM to Bandwidth

As cable operators begin to offer more services, they need to rethink their strategy for connecting their regional headends with each other and with the Internet backbone. Many are turning to Reconfigurable Add Drop Multiplexors (ROADMs) as a key technology for add- ing bandwidth while keeping total costs lower by reducing the need for traditional SONET networking gear. Verizon undertook the largest ROADM deployment to date when it launched its FiOS network, said Andrew Schmitt, di- recting analyst at Infonetics Research. As Verizon began to plan the massive new broadband network to the home, it real- ized it needed to reassess its strategy for wiring the central offices in order to feed video and data to each neighborhood. According to Glenn Wellbrock, director of Optical Transport Network Architecture and Design at Verizon, “We had to rethink our strategy when we realized how much it would cost to pro- vide one or more 10 Gbps links to each central office. The ROADM architecture is more economical, which is what drove us to deployment.”

ROADM Basics

The capacity of a ROADM is measured in degrees and wavelengths (a wave- length refers to a single color of light used to carry data). A single wavelength generally is used to carry between 10 and 100 Gbps of traffic. At the high end, network equipment providers are offering ROADMs capable of carrying 80 wavelengths, with a theoretical maxi- mum capacity of 8 Tbps. A degree is the number of separate physical ports that exit and enter a single device. Each degree can carry anywhere between zero and 80 wavelengths. Each degree generally is connected to fibers running to different cities in a network operator’s network. At the low end, a ROADM might only have four degrees, while at the high end, new ROADM

components from JDS Uniphase Corp. (JDSU) are promising 23 degrees. ROADM technology also allows network operators to install a mesh architecture that can provide the same reliability as do traditional SONET rings, using far less redundant cable. With ROADMs, network operators can deploy a mesh design with links between many cities. This allows a single circuit to provide a protection for two or more routes, which can help reduce the amount of fiber required to provide a reliable network.

SONET Out

Verizon built its initial network of about 2,000 nodes using ROADMs that sup- ported 4 degrees and 44 wavelengths. In most cases, Verizon only is carrying

  • 10 Gbps of traffic on each wavelength;

it recently decided to standardize on

ROADMs that support 8 degrees and

  • 88 wavelengths. Both technologies are

fully compatible with each other, and they can interoperate with the manage- ment infrastructure Verizon is putting into place. Traditionally, Verizon has used SO- NET rings between each central office but, when it did the math, it realized a ROADM-based architecture would save between 50 percent and 60 percent of the overall capital costs by eliminating back-to-back network connections. With- out ROADMs, Verizon would have had to interconnect SONET rings that converted optical signals into electrical ones, and then back again, at each central office. Verizon chose ROADM equipment specifically from Tellabs and Fujitsu to in- tegrate wavelength and SONET transport and switching capabilities into a single element. These hybrid devices bridge the world of optical networks with electrical switching using a common management system. The devices are distinct from routers that direct traffic at the level of TCP/IP packets, as they aggregate the

26

may2010

traffic underneath the router so that larger pipes can be directed to the TCP/ IP routers. Only 1 Gbps signals are used, while lower bit-rate streams are ag- gregated before they are fed into these hybrid ROADMs. The latest generation of ROADMs uses wavelength selective switches (WSS) from vendors like JDSU. These raw optical components can be linked to- gether to create colorless and direction- less ROADMs that simplify the network- ing architecture and configuration. These devices then are integrated into network- ing equipment from vendors like Tellabs, Fujitsu, Ciena and ADVA Optical. Using the right equipment, a network manager can rearrange the network backbone from a computer terminal with- out the need for a technician to touch

any of the installed cable. However, this management technology still is in its infancy. One approach being cultivated

by the International Telecommunication Union is the G.ASN set of protocols. Another approach being developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force is GMPLS, which Verizon is using in its deployment. Wellbrock said Verizon’s use of GMPLS eventually will allow the car- rier to add switching fabric that acts like a cross connect for SONET or LAN traffic at the optical layer. ROADM technology would have made sense, even if Verizon had not decided to roll out FiOS, but it would have a much more difficult to get management buy-in. “It is always cheaper to add one more SONET node than to install a ROADM but, by the time you install three more SONET nodes, a ROADM would have been cheaper,” Wellbrock said. “It has to be a dedicated effort where you are determined to build them out rather than just putting a few in. You really have to build a network to get the full benefit.”

Optical Outlook The ROADM to Bandwidth As cable operators begin to offer more services, they need

–George Lawton

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This important Webcast will provide insight into how to troubleshoot impairments in upstreams increasingly crowded with higher-order modulation carriers.

Join Cisco Technical Leader and CT Senior Technology Editor Ron Hranac and Mid- Continent’s David Haigh as they share best practices for troubleshooting impairments in a fully loaded upstream. This Webcast will be moderated by Communications Technology’s Editor Debra Baker.

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17483

smart home

Client/Server Comes Home

A variety of consumer electronics (CE) vendors, chip manufacturers and video service providers is bringing client/server architectures to the home, using such emerging remote user interface (RUI) technologies as RVU and CEA-2014. “This new approach promises to dramatically lower the cost of offering advanced services to every TV in the home,” said John Gleiter, senior director of marketing at Broadcom. In the traditional model for delivering interactive services for tru2way, EBIF and other proprietary technologies, services are delivered directly from a server in the headend to each and every set-top-box client. In the RUI approach,

for delivering RVU and CEA-2014 to IPTV and MoCA set-top boxes. (Editor’s note: In January, Broadcom decided to support the RVU Alliance's RUI technology on its latest set-top box and digital-TV system-on-a-chip [SoC] solutions.) “RVU and CEA-2014 complement rather than replace tru2way by allowing the gateway server to manage tru2way interactions on behalf of all the devices in the home,” said Adam Powers, director of standards and emerging technology at Rovi and chairman of the Ecosystem Committee for the Digital Living Network Alliance. In theory, a cable system could use the tru2way interface for sharing the display with other devices. “RVU adds

Cablecos and other video

providers have

considered

RVU, Flash, HTML and Java to replace the proprietary interface.

video and other data services would be delivered to a single media gateway server in each home, which would com- municate with less-sophisticated set- tops. The most expensive components for delivering such services as multiple tuners, a DVR, a hard drive, and Cable- CARD security could be consolidated into one location. The clients can be integrated into a digital TV, a stereo or other CE devices, thus eliminating the need for a set-top. To take advantage of this architecture, cable operators will have to rethink the ways in which services are delivered. Today, video service providers like Verizon and DirecTV are driving RVU, while consumer electronics vendors like Samsung and Philips are the impetus behind CEA-2014. Broadcom is provid- ing the underlying chips to enable this transition, with two new families of chips

the ability to share your screen over the network using proprietary technology, much like WebEx or Live Meeting do for sharing a PC desktop over the Internet,” Powers explained. Cable operators and other video providers have been looking at several different presentation protocols, includ- ing RVU, Flash, HTML and Java, to replace the proprietary interface. One of the main draws of RVU is that it allows complete control over the user interface, down to a single pixel. This contrasts with the work being done with HTML, in which the menu can change depending on the TV and the browser. The fi rst application of RVU is for multi- room DVR but, Gleiter said, once you have the network in place, you can stream video to any kind of IP device. Eventu- ally, RVU could run on PCs, other video devices, iPhones and laptop computers.

28

may2010

What Are The Perks?

The RUI can operate over virtually any type of network in the home, including MoCA, HomePNA or Wi-Fi. Accord- ing to Gleiter, MoCA has become the lowest-cost solution because it has been integrated into multi-purpose, SoC designs. MoCA has been adopted by Verizon, which uses it on both the WAN and the LAN. In the RUI architecture, the tuners, storage and decryption are centralized on the server, which is connected to the service provider. This helps reduce the cost of the other equipment in the home while still providing advanced functionality. The new crop of RUI-enabled SoCs allows a media gateway to support as many as six tuners, letting the entire household to watch and/or record six channels at once and more, if some of the channels are in the same transpon- der band. There also is security across the LAN: Video is decrypted and displayed on the gateway server, re-encrypted and stored or sent to any client across the network. In this new framework, Digital Transport Content Protection (DTCP) provides the security, DLNA is the underlying communications proto- col, and MoCA provides the physical network protocol. The RVU RUI protocol provides the user interface. “Ultimately, this architecture prom- ises to be less expensive, especially when putting in two or three set-tops or more,” Gleiter explained. “The server will be slightly more expensive, but the other high-defi nition client devices will be less expensive because they don’t need a hard drive, tuners or network security. They will be smaller in physi- cal size, as small as four inches by fi ve inches, which is smaller than current standard-defi nition platforms.”

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29

Reality Check By Jim Farmer

Reality Check By Jim Farmer Does 1 Gbps Make Sense? So Shaw has announced a fiber-to-the-home

Does 1

Gbps

Make Sense?

So Shaw has announced a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network and is preparing to test 1 Gbps service. That’s a hundred times what most cable subscribers have now, and 10 times what anyone else has pub- licly announced so far as we know. (Let’s leave aside Google’s plan to announce by year’s end a community in which to test 1 Gbps service.) Does this kind of speed make sense? Absolutely, it makes sense. With FTTH—both EPON and GPON—you can do it easily.

Or maybe not

It makes no sense at all. You cannot download that fast to a computer. Several years ago, we were developing a demo for a customer’s board of directors to show them the beauty of FTTH data speeds. A big frustration was trying to move data into and out of a com-

puter consistently at more than a few tens of Mbps. Absolutely, it makes sense. Homes have networks with many computers and other

rights to really fast connectivity. We just got back from a meeting with an overseas telco who is also a big cable operator. He is offering gigabit service via FTTH for the advertising value. And let’s face it:

There is a speed race going on—DOCSIS 3.0 is in the middle of it, despite the fact that it is still an order of magnitude slower than FTTH.

Farmer’s Law

Absolutely, it makes sense. It supports Farmer’s law. For years, I have been trying, without the first shred of success, to establish my place in history and to gain fame and fortune with Farmer’s Law: “No matter how much bandwidth you provide, some clown is going to come along with an application that demands more.” Gigabit connectivity gets you way, way out in front of this important law. (Now, if I could just get anyone else to see its importance!)

Bottom line

So what is the bottom line to this two-headed analy- sis? A gigabit per second is probably is more than any one subscriber can use today.

No matter how much

bandwidth you pro- vide, some clown is going to come along

with an application that demands more.

data appliances. It makes no sense at all. It does you no good to deliver that kind of speed in the last mile if you have slower connec- tions to the Internet backbone, and we understand that gigabit connections are still pretty expensive, though coming down. Absolutely, it makes sense. If you have several busi- nesses with multiple locations on your network, you can accommodate them—for a slight additional fee, of course. And if you cache data or video on your network, you can download it without burning your Internet connection cost.

It makes no sense at all. There are few businesses with that kind of continuous data need that will be willing to pay said “slight additional fee.” And even streaming HDTV, the highest bandwidth hog of them all, only burns about 8 Mbps in MPEG-4. Absolutely, it makes sense. It gives Shaw bragging

Think back to the wan- ing years of the last cen- tury—scarcely more than a decade ago—when we were using dial-up Internet at around 50 kbps. Then they came out with first-generation cable modem service at 1.5 Mbps. That was a 30-fold increase in speed, and today we regard that as slow. Compare 1,000 Mbps FTTH to today’s 10 Mbps (YMMV * ) DOCSIS, a 100-times increase. It should give you many years respite from needing to increase speed again. And the fiber is using an infinitesimal portion of its capacity. Already, the IEEE has amended its standard to incor- porate 10 Gbps, and the ITU is well-into the process, both using the same network you would build today.

Reality Check By Jim Farmer Does 1 Gbps Make Sense? So Shaw has announced a fiber-to-the-home

* Your mileage may vary

Jim Farmer was co-founder and CTO of Wave7 Optics, which Enablence Networks acquired in 2008.

30

may2010

LIMITED SPACE RESERVE YOUR – SPOT TODAY! Presents A FREE Technical Breakfast at Cable Connection–Spring 2010
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Presents A FREE Technical Breakfast at Cable Connection–Spring 2010
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Thurs., May 13, 2010 Doors open 7:00 am/Panel Begins 7:30 am Los Angeles Convention Center

In light of growing consumer preference for multi-screen content, a blue-ribbon panel of technology executives will discuss premium content provider strategies, successful IP video services, optimization of content across multiple devices, the role of DOCSIS in IP services convergence and more!

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LIMITED SPACE RESERVE YOUR – SPOT TODAY! Presents A FREE Technical Breakfast at Cable Connection–Spring 2010

Dallas Clement, EVP and Product Of cer, Cox Communications

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Mark Hess, SVP, Product Development, Video, Comcast Cable

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Bob Zitter, EVP and CTO, HBO

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Evolution not Revolution

Evolution not Revolution

Reach new customers with RFoG

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FTTP architecture for:

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Seamless operation with installed systems:

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  • Uses the same back office and provisioning systems as HFC

Aurora’s VHub™ innovations overcome limitations:

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Node PON™ module enables transition to RFPON
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