Cable-Tec Expo Panel: MSOs Can Advance in Commercial Services

Approximately, 91.9 percent of residential Telephony over IP (ToIP) in the U.S. is delivered over cable modems, according to Douglas Wadkins, CTO of Edgewater Networks. At the same time, business switched access lines generate $31.7 billion in revenue annually, ...

Approximately, 91.9 percent of residential Telephony over IP (ToIP) in the U.S. is delivered over cable modems, according to Douglas Wadkins, CTO of Edgewater Networks. At the same time, business switched access lines generate $31.7 billion in revenue annually, but only two percent of these lines are currently delivered over ToIP.

“If [you] can deliver almost all the [residential] ToIP that exists today over cable modems, you should be able to do the exact same with business services and get a piece of the $31.7 billion that telcos have today,” Wadkins said at an early Wednesday morning panel on Advanced Services at Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta.

Having already served residential customers with ToIP – which Wadkins distinguishes from VoIP, which in some cases are more consumer-oriented services -- MSOs have the core in place to service the business market with an SIP trunking or hosted IP telephony offering. The PacketCable spec includes a CPE device -- the Enterprise SIP Gateway (ESG) -- which serves as the demarcation between customer and cable network. It performs SIP signaling normalization, serves as a firewall, optimizes and prioritizes traffic and monitors networking and call statistics.

“If a cable operator is already delivering residential ToIP, this is an extension of that. If they come in with an ESG type of box, that is what enables the rest of the services,” Wadkins said.

Proven Quality

Winning commercial customers, however, involves being able to compete not only on price and features, but also on the type of service level agreement that can be provided.

“Telcos are used to offering and enforcing SLAs. They are using them as a means of keeping a customer or stealing a customer back,” said Sean Yarborough, Spirent’s senior director of business development and strategy.

Specifically, businesses expect both service activation and quality of service guarantees. To do the proper testing manually would be both time consuming and costly. “One of the things to consider is changing the way the process happens with some level of automation,” Yarborough said.

Probes in the network that support embedded standards in the network interface device remove the need to have a field technician stationed at the POP locations for testing. This helps with activation, service loss verification, and trouble management. With mean-time-to-repair requirements generally clocking in at 4 hours, for example, time is of the essence, Yarborough said.

“(It takes) less time to repair if you are on-net…You are not dispatching to find (problems), but to fix them,” Yarborough said.

Maintaining MDUs

While telcos are the incumbents in the switched access line market, cable tends to have more of a presence in the multiple dwelling unit space. This share, however, is under increased pressure from competition from telcos, satellite companies, and even over-the-top providers. As a result, cable operators might want to ramp up their timeline for providing very high speed Internet services and IPTV, in the MDU market, Mike Emmendorfer, senior director, solution architecture and strategy, ARRIS, said.

Specifically, using a 50 percent compounded annual growth rate, the industry could see offerings of 200 Mbps downstream and 40 Mbps upstream by 2015 and 1.5 Gbps downstream and 300 Mbps upstream by 2020. “These are staggering numbers,” Emmendorfer said, noting operator trials of more than a gigabit are taking place today.

DOCSIS over coax is the “best technology” for achieving customer requirements as it was built from the ground up as a service provider access layer technology. “The cost to deliver service should be superior to rewiring an MDU building,” Emmendorfer said, adding that there also is the opportunity for long-term scalability.

Monta Monaco Hernon is a freelance writer. She can be reached at mcmhern@yahoo.com.
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