RealTime IT News

VOD: Video-On-DSL?

Alcatel and Concurrent Computer Corp. have a new offering for DSL providers looking to counter the Video-on-Demand offerings of their cable rivals.

The product, which the companies will debut tomorrow at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam, combines network access and distribution gear with video server systems.

"There are quite a few telecom carriers worldwide that are in trial phase or commercial deployment phase over video-on-DSL," Del Kunert, Concurrent's vice president of International Affairs, told internetnews.com.

Approximately 230,000 broadband telecom customers (including fiber subscribers) have access to VOD today, according to broadband communications research firm Point Topic. InStat/DMR predicts that there will be 14 million video-on-DSL subscribers by 2007.

Most of the action has been overseas where networks are newer and therefore have more fiber and shorter end-loops than in the United States, Kunert said. Softbank Yahoo in Japan and Telefonica in Spain are two examples.

Still, technology has advanced enough that broadcast-quality images can be transmitted at lower data rates, Kunert said. Video-on-DSL is "technically feasible" even if high-speed Internet, Voice over IP are sharing the pipe, he said.

Although they see video as an important addition to voice and data bundles, U.S. telecoms are just starting to examine VOD and may be wary of clogging DSL lines.

Verizon appears focused on its ambitious fiber-to-the-premises plan, as it's looking to pass 1 million homes by year's end.

"We're dedicated to launching video products on fiber-to-the-premises," Mark Marchand, a Verizon spokesman, said. "Right now we don't have plans for video-on-DSL."

That stance doesn't worry Concurrent's Kunert. The Alcatel-Concurrent product works with FTTP systems, as well, meaning carriers shifting from DSL to FTTP won't have to buy new equipment, he said.

Concurrent, which competes with SeaChange and others, does most of its business with cable operators, so the partnership with Alcatel gives it instant access to the telecom space.

In fact, Alcatel's solution could be in the running for Verizon's FTTP VOD rollout in 2005. (Information about the bidders has not been disclosed yet.)

For Alcatel, the joint offering, developed during the last six months, allows the company to give an integrated DSL/VOD product to its many telecom customers who are looking for ways to expand services and boost revenues.

The French telecom giant will sell the offering directly. Pricing depends on the network configuration, but the companies say it will be competitive.