If you ask someone in cable telephony, “What’s new?” be prepared for a long answer. A trip to the National Show followed by a tour of the Greater Chicago SCTE Vendor Day yielded the subjects for this column, and I have a feeling there’s more to come. Telephony box If an operator wants to pop for $10 to $15 more per installation, Internet protocol (IP) voice connection to house telephony wiring becomes a lot neater. The typical installation today includes opening the subscriber side of the incumbent service provider’s network interface device (NID), disconnecting house wiring and connecting all the pairs using one or several compression fittings, commonly known as “beans” or “Scotchlock” connectors. One of these pairs is the connection to the embedded multimedia terminal adapter (EMTA), which may be a backhaul using existing house wire or a completely new run. The wire bundle is then reinserted into the old NID. In Chicago, the rep for Channell showed me their alternative, which uses one or more blocks of Mini-Rocker insulation displacement connectors (IDCs) in a 4-by-5-inch weatherproof box. The box is mounted near the NID. House wiring is redirected to the new box, where each pair is terminated on an individual IDC connector. The connector block is arranged so that house wiring can be terminated on one row of connectors, and the EMTA connection can go to another row. Multiple line versions, with more connector blocks, are also available. Unlike a punchdown connection, no special tools are required. Connections to an alarm system are easily sorted out, so that the pairs are on the correct side of the EMTA. A similar product is offered by TII Network Technologies. Porting switches Speaking of TII Network Technologies at the Greater Chicago Vendor Day, that company was also discussing the voice over IP (VoIP) number portability switch I mentioned in my February column. As you may recall, this device allows an IP voice installation to be scheduled independent of a number port. Until the port occurs, calls continue to be completed to the incumbent’s line connection. After the port is completed, the first two bursts of ringing cause the switch to connect house wiring to the cable service provider’s network and to disconnect the incumbent. The TII switch includes IDC rocker-type connectors for termination of pairs from the old NID, EMTA and house wiring. For outside installation, it is mounted in a connector box, so that in many cases, one box can do double duty as switch housing and wire management location. Also showing a VoIP number porting switch at the show was Broadband Communications. With PCI and Sistellia, that makes at least four companies that offer a product for this function. VoIP bypass amp Another product that has recently emerged is a VoIP bypass amplifier. This is a special version of a residential amplifier that contains transfer relays to disconnect coax lines not associated with VoIP and to bypass amplification on a line to the EMTA during a power failure. I would not expect a large demand for any amplifier in the path between the drop and an EMTA, but there are now three companies ( Signal Vision , Emerson-Viewsonics and PCT ) offering such a device. The recommended installation procedure in most cable companies is to have a coax home run from the drop to the room where the EMTA is located, without any intervening active device. However, I am told that this product is needed for upscale homes with long cable runs, or homes with more than four cable outlets, where the EMTA is in a room with a TV set, the signal has already been split to the point where amplification is needed for the video signal, and a second coax run is undesirable. In most cases, particularly for digital services, such a home would be better off in the long run with a rewire. However, if amplification on the telephony leg is required and is acceptable practice in normal operation, a detailed, custom signal budget analysis of the customer’s coax plant would need to be done to ensure a sufficient telephony signal level would be available in the bypass mode over the full range of telephony carrier power at the drop. My calculations indicate that this is not always the case, so I would appreciate feedback on any signal budget analysis and installation procedures that have been done by engineering staff in companies that have committed to VoIP bypass amps. As always, I am happy to include your comments in future columns for the benefit of all our readers. EMTA features Moving along to network elements, EMTAs are adding features to aid testing the integrity of subscriber wiring. The Arris Touchstone Telephony Modem Model 502 now tests for hazardous voltage cross-connects (such as AC wiring), presence of incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) line voltage, resistive shorts, receiver off-hook, and having too many customer premises equipment (CPE) devices on the line. There is also a provision for setting conditions for application of line voltage to provide for operation with different security systems. Another feature monitors voice quality metrics over the last 10 phone calls. Hosted service In the cable operator’s network, CedarPoint has announced the addition of a set of 25 hosted business service features targeted to small to medium businesses with five to 20 employees. An operator will need to upgrade to a new software release to obtain the feature set, and the important details of a user portal for provisioning have yet to be completed. On the residential side, the company is now offering “whisper call waiting,” which announces incoming second calls with the prerecorded name of the caller. Unlike some other call waiting offerings, whisper call waiting occurs only once, allowing the subscriber to choose to ignore the second call while continuing with the current conversation, uninterrupted by further indications. SMS Speaking of features, at the National Show, Glenayre discussed its set of short messaging service (SMS) features and video mail capability. Although New Business Development Manager Michael Edgett conceded that these features were a bit ahead of cable’s vision for subscriber service offerings, his company’s offering and interest in our market confirms the point I made in last month’s column about the need to upgrade customer CPE to achieve revenue from features that can be provided through enhanced telephone subscriber equipment. CMS Finally, the National Show brought a renewed marketing thrust by Gallery IP , one of the first call management server (CMS) vendors to work with CableLabs during early certification waves for PacketCable 1.0. Since then, most of the vendors of distributed PacketCable architecture have gone by the wayside; in fact, Gallery IP has focussed on non-U.S. markets for the past few years. However, Gallery IP President Avihai Degani informed me that he believes their CAsseopeia product line architecture provides several advantages for U.S. operators in terms of rapid installation, routing, quick feature addition across multiple PacketCable domains, and convergence with wireless applications. Information from this company is still a bit sketchy, but I look forward to further details and the possibility of another viable PacketCable compliant player. Justin J. Junkus is president of KnowledgeLink and telephony editor for Communications Technology. Reach him at [email protected].