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Verizon's TelcoTV keynote: Be flexible, be smart

By Brian Santo, CED

SOURCE: CED Broadband Direct
11/9/2006 1:17:00 PM

Successful service providers can no longer simply provide services, admonished Brian Whitton, Verizon's executive director of access network design & integration, during the TelcoTV keynote address. They have to manage not only their own services within the home, but they have to make sure they can manage their services in the possible presence of services from competing service providers, he said.

Consumers, he said, should not have to be system integrators. If there's something wrong, you - as a service provider - should be in a position to both identify the problem and solve it.

"The lowest common denominator in the system is the home router," he said. "You can't let that determine the reliability of your whole network."

That's why, he said, Verizon has put so much thought and effort into developing its home router (in contrast to, for example, using standard-issue cable set-tops). Verizon's router is designed to allow Verizon to manage its services after entering the home, with visibility all the way to the customer premise equipment (CPE).

"If there's a wire that becomes disconnected from the back of a set-top box, we can tell, and advise the subscriber to simply plug it back in."

Management has to go beyond simply providing their own services, too, he indicated. Without using the term "dumb pipe," he cautioned service providers against allowing their systems to be reduced to that status.

The issue is the increase in content available from the Web. The trick, he said, is to integrate Web content with your own video.

The general concept behind that is to keep the subscriber at the TV. A subscriber who moves to his or her PC is likely to run off to Web sites unaffiliated with a provider's services. Keep the sub at the TV, however, and he or she can migrate only to content sources controlled by the provider.

Whitton also praised MoCA (the Multimedia over Coax Alliance) as a much cheaper alternative than using Cat 5 (Ethernet) wire within the home.

Separately, MoCA president Ladd Wardani said there is another important benefit Verizon gains by using coax, in contrast to home networking via phone lines or power lines within the home. Verizon is keeping its marketing options open.

Wardani explained that HomePlug and HPNA must use the same spectrum cable does for upstream communications (5 MHz to 42 MHz). Recall that Verizon is using a cable RF approach, so in the home it is using its spectrum the exact same way cable operators do. HomePlug and HPNA interfere with cable signalling. MoCA does not.

So, if Verizon wanted to offer a cable subscriber a 30-day trial, Wardani explained, it can co-exist with subscribers' cable services. Anyone who uses HomePlug and HPNA simply cannot do that, according to Wardani. 

By extension, Verizon can offer one or two elements of the triple play on FiOS, co-existing with the services of any other service provider - most notably cable operators. Any service provider using HomePlug or HPNA cannot - "for them, it's triple play or nothing. Why would you want to paint yourself into that corner?," he asked.