Notes from Spring VON
The emergence of 'Net video, the trend to all-IP networks, and the need for infrastructure interoperability were hot topics.
Voice or video?
Voice technologies were certainly the underpinning of the Spring VON conference this week in San Jose, but the video sessions generated a greater share of the buzz. And for the second consecutive time in VON's decade-long history, a separate sub-conference agenda was devoted to video technologies and issues.
Jeff Pulver, CEO of Pulvermedia and founder of the VON conference, opened Wednesday's Video on the 'Net conference sessions by announcing that his firm, Network2 had filed a petition with the FCC requesting a declaratory ruling that Internet video is not subject to regulations under Titles III or VI of the Communications Act as broadcasting or cable services (see http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/network2/Network2%20Petition.pdf). A positive response to this petition could promote further innovation and investment in this technology. According to Pulver, Internet-based video transport is not an issue of network capacity or bandwidth constraints that have limited television service in some jurisdictions, so cable or satellite television regulations written for these legacy systems should not apply to this Internet-based technology.
Pulver also noted that he has formed a Washington-based Video on the Net Alliance. This organization welcomes anyone who is interested in Internet video, including providers, equipment vendors, investors, and the like, with no membership fees or other obligations to join. The organization endeavors to promote video applications and further usage of existing Internet technologies, with planned involvement in topics including access to content, privacy, security, open standards, and regulatory issues.
But regulatory issues are not the only concern. Session speakers described one of the key challenges facing distributors of video content over the Internetdetermining who is going to foot the bill for the service. And these bills come from several areas: bandwidth costs, production expenses, plus royalties and/or residual fees for the video content. Several business models are being tested: paid site advertising, end-user subscriptions, pre-rolls (ads before the video plays), and post-rolls (ads after the video plays). But according to industry insiders, a substantial amount of advertising money is sitting on the sidelines waiting for these business issues to be sorted out. Quite a change from the non-commercial Internet of the last century, when the network manager dealt with Acceptable Use Policies (or AUPs), and assuring that Internet connections were only used for government and educational purposes.
Market researchers Infonetics Research presented some results of one of their recent studies in a session titled The All-IP Network Transformation Conundrum. Describing some of the high-level issues that service providers face when migrating their networks to IP, Infonetics' analyst Stephane Teral noted that all of the "new stuff" leads to significant technical challenges, including maintaining profitability while investing in a new infrastructure; controlling capital and operational expenses (capex and opex) during this migration; and maintaining technical integrity and keeping customers happy during all of those network reconfigurations.
Jean-Marc Frangos, SVP for Technology and Innovation at the BT (British Telecom) Group, continued the discussion, describing BT's 21CN project that is designed to unplug their last (traditional) PSTN customer in the year 2011, as they migrate to an all-IP infrastructure. The technical challenges were described using the word "enormous", but so are the cost savings, with an estimated additional £1 billion more in their coffers by the 2008/2009 time frame (see http://www.btplc.com/21CN/Whatis21CN/index.htm).
The Multiservice Forum (MSF), a global association of service providers and equipment manufacturers that promotes the interoperability of multi-vendor telecommunications equipment, announced what they claim is the industry's first IMS/NGN Certification Program. This new system builds upon the organization's successful Global MSF Interoperability program, which focused on the practical implementation of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) service architecture. The new effort focuses on the practical implementation of the IMS service architecture. This certification program includes the integration of web services, a unified approach to Quality of Service (QoS) implementation, evaluation of Next Generation Network (NGN) interconnection scenarios, methods to reduce network overload, and a certification program based upon the MSF implementation agreements.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2007 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.