It’s a different telecommunications world. For evidence, there’s Telcordia, a company that sprung directly from Ma Bell’s womb and which was–perhaps still is–considered the telephone vendor of record. Now, though, Telcordia is espousing cooperation, partnerships and, strangest of all, the desire to work with cable operators. “It’s a space for you to watch with us,” said Richard George, the company’s relatively new vice president-general manager of cable and a man with a pedigree that includes stints with such old-time cable operators as Continental Cablevision and its later iterations as MediaOne and AT&T Broadband. Mistakes made Telcordia, George admitted, in the past made some mistakes, and it has had to take proactive steps to overcome them. In the late ‘90s, the company pushed a softswitch solution on cable that just didn’t work out the way it would have liked. The company’s management at the time and the cable industry were, to put it kindly, not on the same page when communicating their needs and capabilities. Now Telcordia is approaching the emerging cable voice space from its strength as an OSS vendor while carefully shedding some of the arrogance it showed in the past. Today, rather than force a solution on cable, Telcordia is showing a willingness to complement rather than supplement. This is especially true when proposing an OSS solution that could be seen as a threat to cable’s long-time billing providers who rule the operational roost. This spirit of cooperation is Telcordia’s new way of doing business, George said. “It’s hard to break back in, but we need to break in and deploy,” said George, who said the company has signed contracts with Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Cox and “re-established or established dialog with all MSOs in North America and in Mexico” as well as with the “international cable community.” Here’s the pitch Telcordia’s pitch is simple: Cable is moving into a merged IP-based telecommunications space, and Telcordia understands software and how to control different services and applications. For instance, he said, the New Jersey-based vendor has developed a policy server that anticipates how to enable a cable operator to enhance the broadband experience by adding gaming or some kind of video download. “That’s a view that I take that’s pretty important,” he said. “If you can enable cable operators to create new revenue streams, particularly in IP, that’s where significant business resides here in the next couple years.” To get that business, Telcordia has to shed some of its swagger about having written the book on telephone operating systems. That might work in the telco space—although even that’s changing, and Telcordia no longer engenders the awe it once did—but it definitely puts off cable operators who see it as arrogance. “There’s a lot to offer” to the cable industry, George said. “It’s just a matter of putting it in the right package for cable operators to recognize that Telcordia can offer solution sets that truly meet their needs.” At the same time, while promoting its cable friendliness, Telcordia must also stick to its telco knitting where, at one time, the company was considered almost the in-house OSS vendor. “We’re very much committed to growing and improving our relationship with the telcos, but we also see ourselves having products and services that have applicability to other players in the arena,” George said. “As convergence takes shape, Telcordia is uniquely positioned to leverage its pedigree.” – Jim Barthold

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