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.

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