It is telling of the maturing cable telephony space that at least one provider, Buckeye Cablevision in Toledo, Ohio, is experiencing more challenges with residential in-home wiring than it is with making certain its HFC plant can handle phone calls. Buckeye helped its cause by thoroughly testing its network operations before it launched the residential service this past March with a Cedar Point media switching system. Now the company is learning firsthand that some of the equipment already in the consumer homes may have been hanging by a quality thread, and some is funky enough to disrupt delivering quality phone service. "This ranges from outlets that weren’t functioning when we got there to making sure that we have accommodated all versions of security systems that we run into," says Joe Jensen, Buckeye’s CTO, who also oversees the company’s competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) business. MTAs ringing true In some cases, cable modems and multimedia terminal adapters (MTAs) needed to be updated to interface with consumer electronics such as fax machines, answering machines and security systems. "Some of the MTAs, for example, don’t put out a true ring signal, and if it’s not a true ring signal, there are some fax machines and answering machines that won’t recognize it," Jensen says. "We’ve gone through a lot of work with our vendors, and it’s pretty much almost a nonissue now. Our vendors have been very attentive to this and made changes to the MTAs to accommodate most of the problems." Pulse dialing still beats One problem that sprang up was just something that is often ignored in today’s high-tech phone environment: Some consumers have not abandoned pulse dialing. It’s all part and parcel of the ongoing learning experience that the MSO is experiencing with building phone networks. "We’re still dealing with the fact that putting in a modem and terminating that twisted pair at the customer premises is a different environment, and it can bring out different problems that were not apparent when they were with the incumbent," he says. "In some cases, we have to go through and make sure all the inside wire is properly conditioned and we don’t have loose pairs going out somewhere that can cause us intermittent problems." Qualified techs key The biggest problem, he admitted, isn’t even technical—it’s personnel. "The most painful part of it for us is getting qualified installation people in the trucks and getting the installs going where we can meet the demand," he says, while conceding that that is "a good problem to have." Buckeye, he says, has gone so far as to install a twisted-pair run back to the network interface device (NID) on the side of the house and moving all of the inside wiring off the incumbent. "We are trying to replicate as much as possible the interface that they had before rather than trying to do it as a patchwork," he says. "It does create a little bit of complexity in the install." To say nothing of the fact that "some customers take issue with us drilling another hole," Jensen says. Working with incumbents And then there have been the usual array of issues with incumbent providers that show up inside the residence. "For some reason, SBC was not accessing the proper information to supply their customers with our callers’ names," Jensen says. "We had to escalate this with SBC and educate them on what they should have done." For the most part, though, all that testing on the external network is paying off in how Buckeye can handle the internal challenges with more qualified installers. Cooperative vendors and better educated incumbents help the 5,500 subscribers who now buy one of the MSO’s three levels of phone service continue to grow every day in a total subscriber footprint of 147,000 subscribers. —Jim Barthold (adapted from CT’s Voice Report) HDTV in Europe Advanced Codecs Gain Steam Infrastructure providers at IBC in Amsterdam in September had a lot to say and show about Internet Protocol television (IPTV) but across the entire spectrum of vendors at this broadcaster-heavy event, high-definition television (HDTV) arguably ruled the day. The June 2006 World Cup, to be held in Germany, is one driver spurring European broadcasters into action. But that’s not an endpoint. At IBC, President of DirecTV’s Entertainment Group and Chairman of Fox Sports David Hill said that by 2007 DirecTV would be delivering 1,500 local channels and least 150 network channels in HD to almost every home in the U.S. The BBC already had said it expects to be broadcasting exclusively in HD format by 2010. Between the production studio and the living room stands the network. And infrastructure providers at IBC certainly were ready to tout their ability to handle the advanced codecs on which HD’s future depends. Encoders at IBC Harmonic’s collaboration with Video Networks Ltd., a service provider that has made the HomeChoice triple-play package available to 2.4 million homes in London and Stevenage, England, has yielded a path-breaking migration of an entire broadcast line from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 AVC (H.264). The enabler in this case is Harmonic’s MV 100 multi-codec encoding platform, In another partnership, SES Americom unveiled a North-American satellite-based distribution system—dubbed IP Prime—using MPEG-4 encoders from Scientific-Atlanta that will enable telcos to offer IPTV services. SES announced that the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) had agreed to trial the service in early 2006. EGT has added the ALTO H.264/MPEG-4, two-channel encoder to a portfolio that includes variable and constant bit rate MPEG-2 devices and a closed-loop encoder. EGT also announced that Seachange was now acting as a "strategic reseller" agreement of EGT encoders that worked in con conjunction with Seachange ad servers. On that front, Terayon announced that its DM 6400 Network Cherry Picker now supports the MPEG-4 format and enables standards-based digital program insertion (DPI) and splicing of programming in the MPEG-4/AVC format. The DM 6400 supports both MPEG-4/AVC and MPEG-2 content on the same ASI or IP-based networks. -Jonathan Tombes (adapted from CT’s Video Report)

The Daily

Subscribe

Spot Spending Returning, Shifting to OTT

After a rapid decline in spend, agencies and broadcasters are seeing rebounds in many spot spending categories.

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up