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SERVICE PROVIDERS BROADBAND EQUIPMENT: On the Fast Track

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VoicenData Bureau
Updated On
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Broadband, whether wireless or wireline, provides true convergence. It also

helps since providers to use existing infrastructure to increase ARPU, thereby

increasing topline as well as bottomlines of carriers worldwide.

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Problems and solutions



- Shift from single to triple play:
All operators in India-be they

Bharti, BSNL, or Tata-have been offering only single-play service, i.e.,

Internet access. But service providers have to move from offering Internet

access to offering triple-play service (voice, data, and video). So apart from

data, the service providers should also focus on voice and video. The three

services make the entire offer a deadly combination and makes it necessary for

subscribers to opt for broadband services. Care should be taken to ensure that

the cost of triple-play service is within the reach of the common man. On the

whole, triple-play services offers a lot to the subscribers.

Service providers are still struggling on how to make money on triple play

and how to price it so that it appeals to a larger audience.

- Content, the missing link: Presently, service providers are

offering broadband for Internet access only. Telecom service providers have to

work out models for providing content like video streaming, audio streaming,

personal video recording, and video on demand. Service providers have to work

out the modalities of distribution so that they can offer attractive rates to

their subscribers and tempt them to subscribe broadband services.

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- Regulation needs correction: Presently, all the three

services (IT, telecom, and broadcast) work in isolation but broadband brings

true convergence and laws related to information technology, telecommunications,

and broadcasting have to be revisited so that service providers, content

providers, and infrastructure providers can move at a faster pace. Laws related

to copyright, online billing, transmission, and cable TV have to be restructured

to suit broadband. There is lot of ambiguity on VoIP that needs clarification.

Digital rights management, content interconnect, and broadcast distribution

needs to be strengthened

- Reduction in bandwidth prices: The bandwidth prices acts as a

major obstacle for broadband growth in the country. To make broadband

affordable, service providers have to deploy a lot many submarine cables and

also light up the existing capacity. Presently, in terms of private cables, i2i

is the only active one whereas Tata Indicom cable is yet to get security

clearance. Recently, Flag Telecom announced the construction of Falcon, a

multi-terabit, new-generation DWDM submarine cable system providing multiple

landings through the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching to India at

one end and Egypt at the other end. It is slated to be operational by the fourth

quarter of 2005. The SeMeWe-4 cable is also slated to become operational in

2005. All this will help in bringing a lot of international bandwidth into the

country, resulting in reduction of the cost of Internet bandwidth.

Bandwidth, being a major component for service providers, will be the driving

force for broadband movement in the country.

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- DSL, a Leading Technology: India is following the global

trend and DSL will remain a leading technology in the country. With incumbent

operator-BSNL and MTNL-along with VSNL and Bharti focusing on DSL services,

it is absolutely certain that DSL will be a dominant technology for a long time.

With around 44 million landline connections in the country, and both the

incumbent operators becoming aggressive, things are moving towards DSL. Some of

the greenfield operators are focusing on FTTH and it looks to be promising too.

But cable TV route is still a long way. Presently, multi service operators (MSO)

are replacing coaxial cable with OFC in the backbone but connectivity to homes

will still take a lot more time and money.

- Wireless, Still a Long Way: Wireless technologies like Wi-Fi

are good for campus networks. Presently, wireless is used more in the local loop

where speeds are reasonable. However, for MAN/WAN applications it is still

problematic. In the main cities, frequency issues are still there though they

get eliminated in the rural areas. Better wireless technologies like WiMax are

being tested but there are issues such as the costs and benefits not appealing

to a large range of customers.

WiMax (worldwide interoperability for microwave access) is looked at as a

broadband technology. An alternative to microwave, Wi-Max provides both

point-to-point and point-to-multipoint access and is ideal for backhaul

connectivity. WiMax is a complementary technology to Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi focuses

on LAN, Wi-Max serves as a MAN technology.

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- Security, agenda number one: Broadband helps in bringing real

convergence. Convergence not only in terms of device, convergence not only in

terms of infrastructure, convergence not only in terms of content, but

convergence in the true sense. All this leads to convergence in sectors such as

IT, telecommunications, and entertainment. So, security is a big question mark

and service providers should ensure that all measures are being taken so that

networks are secure at all fronts. Since lot of parties are involved, care

should be taken to implement security measures at each and every possible level,

to provide hassle free services to customers.

- One-stop Solution: Majority of the vendors support

single-play service. But, to provide triple-play service, vendors are working

out modalities and are also working with partners. To provide one-stop

solutions, infrastructure vendors have to tie up with content providers or

content aggregators.

Broadband access networks shall be designed to provide reliable, high-speed

Internet connectivity and other value-added services such as VPN, video

multicast, and video on demand to customers. The main components of a broadband

infrastructure are: broadband remote access server (BRAS), gigabit and fast

Ethernet aggregation switches, digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAM),

subscriber service selection system/center (SSSS/SSSC) and associated servers

for AAA, LDAP, network management system, provisioning applications, performance

monitoring applications, element management systems, and configuration

management functions.

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For triple-play services one has to also deploy content delivery networks and

also IP networks. All this has to be integrated with the billing system to give

the desired QoS.

CDN is a service which enables Internet infrastructure to efficiently run a

website with large amounts of content. Broadband content providers who would

benefit from the use of CDN typically have a high level of traffic with music or

video content, requiring large capacities. CDN providers would be in-charge of

optimizing the running of data centers and servers for the website operations of

the clients.

Technology



- ADSL:
ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and it

allows copper pairs to be used for providing a broadband connections. ADSL

provides always-on Internet connection that is automatically established once

the PC and ADSL modem are switched on. So, one can access Internet as well as

telephone calls simultaneously. ADSL is also the most robust and the most mature

of all broadband technologies. Incumbent operators in India have deployed ADSL

2+ technology.

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- FTTH: Fiber to the home (FTTH) is a most ideal technology and

both greenfield operators (Reliance and Tata) are deploying it or are in the

process of doing FTTH in the top 100 cities to begin with. In the next phase

they will spread out to smaller cities. With large a backbone already being

deployed by operators, it makes all the more sense to deploy fiber in the last

mile and leverage on convergence content.

Using FTTH one can provide all-in-one services (voice, data and video) and

all of this can be transmitted across the same optical fiber. This requires

connecting terminal devices such as telephones, PCs, and TV to an optical

network unit (ONU) installed in each household. The optical network unit

delivers high performance, but service providers in India should bring down ONU

prices so that they can get subscribers easily.

One of the challenges in using FTTH is the coverage area. Even residential

blocks need lots of permissions for wiring the building. So, service providers

always weigh the administrative costs with respect to the number of subscribers

they plan to get in a particular residential area. Service providers start

marketing as well as deployment at the same time but all this takes time. The

other challenge is how to make the content attractive so that people can migrate

from ADSL to FTTH.

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- CATV: In developed economies, CATV is ideal for broadband but

in countries like India it is still a dream. Some MSOs do provide Internet

access but real broadband speed is still a long way to away. With lot of mohalla

(neighborhood) cable operators distributing broadcasting services in their

respective mohallas, there is a need for consolidation in the cable industry

before CATV is expanded to provide broadband services. And a lot of capital

investment is also required.

Presently, CATV operators use OFC in the backbone but OFC in the access part

is still a long way to go. Using cable modems or set-top boxes one can offer

broadband services through CATV.

- Wireless LAN: Presently, wireless LAN (WLAN) hotspots have

been deployed in public places like restaurants, cafés, and convenience stores

as well as airports. Presently, the average speeds are in the range of 5 Mbps

but this is going to increase in the future. Presently, WLAN does not have a

business model where it can attract a large number of subscribers to become

commercially viable.

- Metro Ethernet: Presently, there isn't any successful

worldwide model that is extensive in nature. It does have limitations in terms

of distance and is good for high-end subscribers, mainly in the corporate world.

It is easy for backbone but has lot of problems for last mile.

- G-PON: Gigabit-passive optical networking, (G-PON) technology

can be used to extend cheap fiber links within metro networks. Presently, due to

cost, no one is suggesting G-PONs for residential fiber. G-PON offers blazing

speeds making it ideal for triple-play suites of voice, video, and data services

for service providers. Its use of Sonet framing enables providers to link native

TDM and voice connections into the PON without adding IP.

Experts

Panel

AK

Sekhar,

country sales manager, broadband, Motorola India



KVSSS Gunneswara Rao, director(VoIP), D-Link India


Rajiv Dewan, GM (marketing), product validation and TEC, ZTE


Rakesh Kumar, joint DDG (Internet-2), BSNL


Ramdev Sharma, product (marketing), Huawei Technologies India


Ravi Sharma, president for South Asia and MD, Alcatel India


Ruchir Godura, country manager and director south Asia, UTStarcom




Shrikant Shitole,
new business devlp. manager (India) Cisco Systems





Broadband services

Service providers can offer a range of services to all types of users, from

end users to corporate users. Users can even mix-and-match services from the

entire suite of services available.

Basic Internet: A base-level service for entry-level customers. Apart

from broadband Internet service, one can also access a lot of other services

such as: high-speed Internet access, multicast, video conferencing,

video-on-demand, and gaming.

VPN

services:
It allows dialup, remote-access users to access their private

networks securely over the backbone infrastructure. The network shall support

both client-initiated VPN as well as network-initiated VPN. So, service

providers can provide IP-VPN as well as MPLS-based VPN services.

RAS network in conjunction with the IP-MPLS network shall provide VPDN

services to its subscribers whereas RAS networks in conjunction with IP-MPLS

network shall provide extension of the MPLS-VPN services to its subscribers.

With this service, leased-line-based, MPLS-VPN service providers shall be able

to extend VPN to their users connecting them through remote access as well.

Wholesale services: This service allows infrastructure to be retailed

to other service providers for ISP and VPN services. Here, data ports that are

managed by one service provider are to be used by another service provider. The

wholesale service provider leases its ports for other service providers, who do

not want to setup and manage their own networks.

Service Delivery/Assurance Parameters

While opting for a particular vendor, service provider should see whether

vendors are up to the mark for service delivery as well as service assurances.

In service delivery, service providers should look into parameters like

inventory management, configuration management, provisioning support, and

service usage support. In service assurance, service provider should look into

fault management, performance data collection support, resource utilization data

collection support, and QoS assurance support.

Service delivery parameters.



Inventory management support involves maintaining a record of all components

that are installed in the network to support provisioning of services. It

includes collection of locations, quantities of equipment, model numbers, serial

numbers, versions, installation dates, and others.

Configuration management support helps in complete control of network

resources, topologies, and redundancies and includes the installation and

turn-up of new equipment resources; it may include the assignment of resources

to trunk routes or service areas, the control of equipment, and network

protection switching.

Provisioning support involves creation of specific connections and enabling

of specific network features and the assignment of these to a specific

subscriber for an extended period. The connections and features may take into

account or be determined by a quality of service level that is guaranteed to the

subscriber.

Service usage support involves measurement of the usage of the network

resources by the various subscribers; this is the basis for billing.

Service assurance parameters.



Fault management support helps in monitoring of the network resources to

detect malfunction, preempt failures, and detect faults. After faults are

discovered, the vendors must troubleshoot, repair, and restore the network as

quickly as possible. Fault management ensures that service remains available

even during downtime.

Performance data collection support involves periodic collection of quality

metrics that characterize performance of network resources over service

intervals. It also facilitates visualization of trends that can indicate

periodic or gradual degradation of physical resources.

Resource utilization data collection support helps in collection of data on

the level of utilization of network resources assigned to subscribers. This data

can be used to see whether the product matches to the service characteristics.

Using this tool, service provider s can forecast demand and also provide QoS

upgrades.

QoS assurance support ensures that the quality metrics characterizing network

performance remain within the agreed limits. It requires proactive monitoring of

the network fault, performance, and utilization parameters to preempt any

degradation in service quality.

Broadband Content

Online Games: Presently, in India, the number of game players are

limited and service providers should promote gamers. The always on broadband

connection, players need not worry about communication charges if they charge as

per usage and even industry has to promote games in local languages.

Digital photos: In India, digital camera phones and mobile camera

phones sales are increasing. And after clicking the pictures, people like to

send them to their family and friends. Majority of camera phone users send

pictures through fixed network, via e-mail or put it on the website and this

could be a main reason why they may switch to broadband.

Electronic

publishing:
Presently, the concept of selling electronic books is still a

concept but can be looked as an interesting application from broadband

viewpoint. Users can download e-books on their network PCs so that they carry

them when they are on the move. This concept can pick up if there is

differential pricing.

Video-over broadband: Video streaming on the Internet has been

available for some time. However, with an increasingly large proportion of

Internet users subscribing to broadband, there is a momentum for video viewing

over the Internet. Almost all the service providers should launch a broadband

portal where they distribute video and audio content.

IP-telephony: Making inexpensive calls is a killer application for

broadband. Presently, regulation restricts it but once it is allowed, service

providers will make money from it. They will target video-IP telephone service

for business and education, with applications such as video conferencing,

telemedicine, and distance education.

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