RealTime IT News

Cisco Woos Cable Operators

Cisco has unveiled new hardware and software to help cable network operators deliver a "triple play" of services -- video, voice and high-speed data.

The most significant is a router with a broadband processing engine to boost data handling speeds by 10 times. Other tools include: load balancing, so cable operators to better use bandwidth; and traffic management software, to monitor and control traffic on a subscriber level.

All the offerings from the San Jose, Calif., telecom equipment giant are based on common architecture to be easily integrated into cable operators' existing networks. Pricing was not immediately available.

"The ability to add both processing power and intelligence at the edge will help the MSOs (managed service operators) further increase free cash flow from their (Internet protcol) services portfolio," said Pankaj Patel, head of Cisco's cable business.

In recent years, cable companies, such as Comcast, have pushed high-speed Internet access, which is delivered through the same coax lines as TV signals. The offering competes with digital subscriber line from carriers such as SBC and Verizon.

In fact, more U.S. households currently have broadband access from cable than DSL (in most other countries it's just the opposite).

Ron Westfall, an analyst with IT research group Current Analysis, thinks Cisco's new products will appeal to cable companies.

"These new capabilities are key for MSOs as they look to extend their subscriber base with new, higher quality services," Westfall said.

Cisco also announced new Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony solutions, a PacketCable and DOCSIS compliant bundle, and support services. Additionally, Cisco introduced the CableLab PacketCable qualified BTS 10200 Softswitch.