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When Fiber to the Home Pays Off

Amid all the talk about Verizon’s financial bet in choosing to deploy fiber to the home (FTTH), I thought I’d highlight another FTTH deployment, and why it’s been successful to date. Back in September, I posted about how a small telco called Hotwire Communications had chosen to use Motorola’s gigabit PON (GPON) technology for its FTTH networks along with Motorola MPEG-4 encoders and IP set-tops. Since then, the marketing team has put together a video case study that is well worth watching. I try not to post too many marketing materials, but this video has actual deployment details as well as an engineer’s perspective. It’s only three and a half minutes. Take a gander.

Project Cavalry – In Philly and Beyond

Independent of the broadcast digital transition set to take place on June 12th, Comcast is making the all-digital shift in about half of its markets this year. (All Motorola markets so far) In fact, the Comcast move is taking place in my own Philadelphia backyard at the moment. As part of a “marination” period, Comcast is deploying digital set-tops and DTAs for basic subcribers during already-scheduled truck rolls. After new hardware is the field, Comcast aims to move roughly 40 analog channels to its digital tier – all as a way to free up bandwidth for more HD content and DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding.

My goal over the next couple of months is to follow up on the Project Cavalry activities in Philadelphia. How will the Comcast transition parallel the broadcast one? Will there be an uptick in digital subscribers? How does Philadelphia compare to other Project Cavalry markets in the Bay Area, parts of Oregon, Tennesee, and Seattle, as well as Boston and Atlanta? Stay tuned.

Around the World with DOCSIS 3.0

While I was caught up in Cable Show activities, a couple of news announcements of note hit the wire internationally. First, Motorola let drop that the company has deployed Taiwan’s first DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) with Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC). The Asian market has been quite keen on D3 technology. Last year Motorola signed customers in both Korea and Japan.

Second, Motorola announced at Expo Canitec 2009 that its GPON and DOCSIS 3.0 solutions are ready for the Mexican market. The company has already deployed D3 gear in Brazil, but Mexico represents an entirely new opportunity. It will be interesting to watch how different broadband technologies (D3, PON, wireless, etc.) are utilized across Latin America in the coming years.

Meanwhile, DOCSIS 3.0 deployments stateside have continued apace. Analyst firm Pike and Fischer put a stake in the ground last month predicting we’ll have nearly 100% of homes passed with DOCSIS 3.0 here in the states by 2013.

Bandwidth Meters on the Way

bandwidth-meter

The frenzy over bandwidth caps reached a fevered pitch recently in response to news that Time Warner Cable was expanding trials beyond Beaumont Texas. Consumer outrage sparked responses from operators and the NCTA, as well as various politicians. Ultimately, Time Warner has decided to shelve its plan for metered billing, at least until it’s had “further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.”

Arguments for and against bandwidth caps aside, Time Warner is moving forward with one very smart plan. It’s turning more attention to getting a reliable bandwidth meter to market so that subscribers can actually tell how much bandwidth they use. This is critical. Even though public analyses like the recent one done by Stacey Higginbotham  over at GigaOM help clarify the relative value of bandwidth, nothing could make the situation clearer than providing real-time usage information. Once these meters are widely available, I imagine we’ll see wide usage comparisons from data collected in forums, on Twitter, and via other online communication tools. Then not only will consumers be able to see how much bandwidth they need for their own Internet habits, but also what patterns exist across the larger Internet population.

Rounding Out the Cable Show Coverage

cable-show-2009-broadband-nation

The Cable Show is now almost two weeks behind us, and it’s time to put this baby to bed. To finish off, I thought I’d link to a few good stories you might have missed from some of the industry’s best trade journalists. Until next year…

  • From Cable Digital News, The Cable Show ’09: 5 Takeaways – Jeff Baumgartner sums up The Cable Show in five categories: Down with OTT (over-the-top video), multi-room DVRs, IPTV, Enhancing the TV (EBIF),  and 3D-TV
  • From Multichannel News, ‘TV Everywhere’ Must Be Easy, Scalable - Todd Spangler covers Time Warner Cable’s approach to online video
  • From CED, So Far, Over-the-Top is OverdoneCED recounts keynote comments from speaker Bob Iger, president of Disney, regarding the financial viability of Internet video distribution today