The Online Reporter

Research, Trends and Insight into the Digital Media, Consumer Electronics & Broadband Industries

Hello Telcos! Comcast Is Field Testing 3.1 Version of DOCSIS

- Checking Network Readiness & Beginning Training This Year
– Deployment Next Year — Yep, 2016

The world’s telcos and cablecos have been in a fiercely fought broadband technology battle for over a decade.

The cablecos are winning.

Telcos with copper-to-the-home networks are losing.

That trend appears likely to continue.

The telcos’ best hope, other than building all-fiber networks, is the new G.fast broadband technology that is capable of speeds in the 300 Mbps to 1.0 Gbps range.

No telco has yet committed to G.fast publicly.

 

Comcast_Truck

DOCSIS 3.1 coming to a neighborhood near you

 

The cablecos’ next generation technology is the 3.1 version of DOCSIS, which is capable of speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. DOCSIS 3.1 is a multi-Gbps technology. G.fast is a multi-hundred Mbps technology.

You can argue whether multi-Gbps broadband is needed but you can’t argue that anyone ever complained about having too much broadband speed. No company CEO has ever been fired for deploying broadband that’s too fast but lots of telco CEOs should be fired for letting their broadband speeds so badly lag the cablecos’.

Comcast is already field testing DOCSIS 3.1, albeit with specially made gear and at the homes of some of its employees.

Comcast’s VP of access architecture Jorge Salinger told a CableLabs meeting earlier this month, “The target for us is to be in the field establishing network readiness in 2015. Our overall goal is to be able to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit-per-second on a broad scale starting in 2016.”

To repeat Salinger:
- Establish network readiness in 2015. That is this year and most of three months have already gone by.
– Deploying on a broad scale in 2016.

No telco executive in the world has yet made a similar statement about G.fast. In fact it’s not even certain that G.fast chips are available for any telco to conduct a broad scale deployment in 2015.

Cablecos can deploy 3.1 on their existing hybrid fiber/coax network and even use the same equipment, not including the modem/gateway.

Telcos have to install fiber much closer to the residence before they can deploy G.fast. It’s not an easy or inexpensive deployment for the telcos – although it is less expensive and quicker than building all-fiber networks.

Cablecos will need to develop new installation procedures and tools plus train installation crews and technicians. Comcast has jumped the gun on that. It is already begun training 500 to 1,000 people and will in time increase that to 20,000 to 40,000 people.

CableLabs director of network technologies Belal Hamzeh said the certification of DOCSIS 3.1 gear is underway. There have already been three equipment plugfests and several more are planned. It expects to start certifying DOCSIS gear in May. Yes, this May. May 2015. Two months from now.

Where are the telcos and their G.fast technologies? Telcos CEOs and other executives should begin making public commitments including expected speeds and availability — just as Comcast’s Salinger has done.

An AT&T executive once answered a question about broadband speeds by asking the question, “Why would anyone at home ever need more that 1 Mbps?” That thinking still continues at too many telcos but …

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SK Broadband Uses ARRIS Edge Routers to Offer 1 Gbps

South Korean cableco SK Broadband is using ARRIS E6000 Converged Edge Routers (CER) to deliver the first 1 Gbps broadband services in Asia Pacific. ARRIS said the routers have been deployed at many of the world’s leading cablecos. The speeds, ARRIS said, are needed for SK Broadband to offer “the world’s first 4K TV service” that uses UHD upscaling.

It is not clear whether SK Broadband, which last week became a partial acquisition target for SK Telecom, will broadcast in 4K or use the Internet to stream 4K videos.

The difference is: a pay TV service transmitting in 4K is news but using broadband to stream 4K videos is, ho-hum, old news.

 

Gangnam

South Korea: exponential bandwidth demands

 

ARRIS said the bandwidth needed to support demand in South Korea continues to grow at exponential rates and the number of connected devices is growing even faster. SK Broadband currently has 2.6 million IPTV subscribers and increased by 189,000 customers in 2014’s Q3.

Tim Gropp, ARRIS’ SVP of sales for Asia Pacific, said, “SK Broadband is the first company to break through the 1 Gbps speed barrier in Asia-Pacific and exceeds the high-speed data service levels of most other regions …

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Meerkat: ‘Everyone Has a Story to Tell’

- Meerkat App Allows Users to Stream Live Video Selfies
– Heralds a New Era in Demand for Upload Speeds
– Twitter Buys Meerkat Rival Periscope & Blocks Meerkat

Meerkat is an app that allows anyone with an iOS smartphone or tablet to use the Net to easily stream live (but not recorded) videos to any- and everyone that wants to watch.

The start-up made the news this week because Twitter blocked it from accessing Twitter after Twitter acquired Meerkat rival Periscope for about $100 million. Twitter’s move will make it harder for Twitter users to keep up with Meerkat’s video posts. That’s a potentially lethal blow for a service that only broadcasts live video because the people that Meerkat users follow on Twitter will no longer automatically show up in Meerkat when they start broadcasting a live video.

Meerkat said it was not surprised by Twitter’s action.

 

IMG_0028

Meerkat: comparisons to other video streaming apps unavoidable

 

Founder Ben Rubin said the Twitter block-out is “just a speed bump” and said Meerkat would launch its own social messaging service.

“We believe that everyone has a story to tell,” he told The Guardian and said that was the premise that prompted him to develop the Meerkat live online video app.  “Meerkat is like life — experience it now or miss it forever”.

Meerkat and other such services stream live videos and allow the sender and viewers to comment in a live messaging box. They are the opposite of video-on-demand (VoD). They are video-on-availability (VoA). The sender can see who is watching, comment on what is being sent and chat live with viewers in a chat screen that’s within the video. Such services are also called “sender-side” videos because the sender decides when to send rather than the viewer deciding when to receive.

As for the attractiveness of the Meerkat app, Rubin said, “The luckiest person has one thing to tell every day and that’s awesome. If you’re less lucky you have a story two times a week. If I ask you if there’s something in your eyes that you think is wonderful to do in a shared experience in the next 24 hours, you probably will come up with one thing. It could be a wedding or going to a Kanye [West] show, or interviewing this person, or it could be going to the beach. It could be picking up a puppy to adopt – anything you think that is a powerful shared experience.”

An Android version is expected in the near future. There’s no word about a version for Windows.

Meerkat’s app was launched less than a month ago and its rise in popularity has been quick. That’s no surprise in a world that loves “selfie” pictures. Even the US president has been bitten by the selfie bug. As of March 14, Meerkat already had 100,000 users and hundreds of millions of clicks-to-view.

Meerkat said that more than 20% of the people on Meerkat watch more than two hours a day, 8% watch three hours a day and 4% watch four hours of video every day.

Those are startling numbers for a new OTT service that hasn’t even been available for a month.

At the South by Southwest (SXSW) event this week, reporters from the likes of CNBC and CNN were using the app to broadcast live news to their Twitter followers. Alas, because no recording is made, followers cannot look at the videos later. It’s linear TV redux — and without a DVR.

 

Using Meerkat

After using Meerkat, here’s what we found to be its downsides:
– The video quality is at best poor. Maybe that’ll improve over time with better cameras and more bandwidth. Some videos were being done over a cellular network, which clearly (unclearly?) shows that cellular networks are not yet ready for prime time videos.
– The topics were mostly boring and seemingly contrived. Perhaps that’ll improve once more people begin using it. You can see its potential for live communications to a very large audience.
– The fact that it does not record makes it like linear TV, from which people are rapidly moving away because they want to watch what they want and when they want. But recording content puts it in competition with YouTube, which has a much larger user base.
– Because it’s a live-only service, a social messaging network like Twitter is essential so that viewers can keep up when someone or some subject they like starts a live stream.
– Not only does it not currently work on Android devices, but it requires iOS 8 and higher. It does not yet work on any Windows PC.

 

Future Versions

At the SXSW event this week, Rubin said onstage that future versions of the app will make it easier for users to discover other Meerkat users and let users watch Meerkat live streams even after they’re no longer live.

There’s no way to know how the Twitter’s newly acquired Periscope service will help or hurt Meerkat, but it does not matter from the standpoint of the broadband and home networking industries. It and similar services will also bring demand for some traditional OTT services such as Netflix and YouTube have not: upload speeds for which there will now be a rapid rise in demand.

Because Meerkat allows a user to “broadcast” a live video onto the Net for anyone to watch, a few companies have begun using it for broadcasting videos from company events and presentations.

Periscope, which Twitter has acquired, is reportedly very similar except that instead of live videos, it records them and synchs comments for later playback. Periscope has not yet launched its service and also has given no indication when it will.

Meerkat currently streams only live video but most smartphones can record the video for later playback. Comments are posted on Twitter and so are not in synch with recorded videos.

Vine, a third rival in the space, displays seconds of a video over and over in a loop.

If a picture is worth a thousand words (although Twitter only allows 144 characters at a time), then a video, especially a live video is worth a thousand pictures.

Implications
Services such as Meerkat will have several impacts:
– Here at last is an app that will increase the demand for faster upload speeds on cellular and wireline broadband.
– Demand for 4K-capable smartphones and tablets will increase.

In addition to it being live video, another factor that will cause an increase in the demand for upload speeds is the declining prices of 4K cameras. Like UHD TV sets, as prices for them decline to mass market levels, the number being purchased will increase and the number of live videos being uploaded will increase. Currently 4K cameras prices are a bit high: See: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=4k+cameras&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3A4k+cameras

Most notable are the Sony FDR-X1000V/W 4K Action Cam at $499 and the GoPro HERO4 BLACK, also at $499.

When they arrive, 4K capable smartphones at mass market prices will significantly increase the size of the “video selfies” that are uploaded. Qualcomm, which should know because it makes chips for smartphones, has said that a number of 4K smartphones will appear on the market this year.

4K phones like the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are already …

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WiGig Expected in Smartphones by Year-End

WiGig (Wireless Gigabit Alliance) chips are expected in high-end smartphones in the second half of 2015, according to Digitimes.

WiGig allows data transfers speeds up to 7 Gbps over short distances such as within a room. That’s fast enough to wirelessly stream 4K videos from a smartphone, tablet, Blu-ray player or STB/NTB to a TV set. Qualcomm, Broadcom, Panasonic, Intel, Nitero and, probably Samsung, are expected to supply WiGig chips.

A Wonderful Wireless World

WiGig, which was “consolidated” into the WiFi Alliance in 2013, is faster than Wi-Fi — although with a much smaller coverage area — and so can handle large video streams such as 4K and gaming. It is cordless, unlike USB.

WiGig marks the beginning of the end of the wired era because WiGig devices will not need to be physically connected to nearby devices.

Apple will probably be the first to go port-less as shown this week by its newest MacBook, which has only one of the new-fangled USB-C ports. (Apple sells a separate $79 adapter that adds a single USB port and an HDMI or VGA slot.) The USB may disappear on future models when wireless recharging becomes popular. Apple was the first to eliminate the CD/DVD drive on laptops, which were once used exclusively to copy data and install new software. That prompted users to connect to Wi-Fi and the Net for those tasks.

AplWatch-3Up-Features-PR-PRINT

The new Apple Watch: WiGig capability?

 

It’s not yet clear whether the new Apple MacBook or Apple Watch have WiGig. We think not because it’s too early — chipmakers have given out no information that they started shipping Wi-Gig chips 6 or so months ago, in time for Apple to put them in the products it announced this week.

If Apple did get a supply of WiGig chips, the MacBook and Apple Watch could use WiGig to stream videos and other content to a nearby TV set, even 4K videos, whether home videos shot with a 4K camera or from an OTT service…

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Sony’s US Retail Is Focused on … You Bet, 4K

Sony’s retail approach in the States, and probably elsewhere, will primarily revolve around 4K, according to the president and COO of Sony Electronics USA Mike Fasulo, who said, “Our Sony Experience spaces [in retail stores] are built around high-quality 4K content. We can demonstrate how we deliver the Ultra HD experience through content, devices, audio, gaming — the full capacity of 4K.”

 

Sony_store_Westfield_Riccarton_2013

Sony retail: 4K may bring much needed footfall

 

Fasulo used as an example Sony’s 4K action cameras. He said, “4K action cams are the new camcorder. You can take it in your pocket or your purse and be ready to capture that special moment. We are taking a premium approach to the category, ever since we introduced the very first 4K video camera.”

 

Sony’s 4K Action Cam

Sony’s splash-proof 4K Action Cam records video and pictures in 4K (3840 x 2160), has Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization so it can be used when moving such as on bikes, in cars and mounted on drones. A smartphone app can control five different Action Cams. A tripod mount is included as is a stereo microphone that records quality sound with wind noise reduction.

Sony is aiming its CE products at the upscale demographics (as shown by prices for Sony’s UHD TVs). To achieve that goal the company has to show that its products and that’s best done in a retail store, not an online shopping service like Amazon.com.

 

Sony 4K action cam

Sony 4K Action Cam

 

Fasulo said, “Experience and demonstration is key, whether in brick-and-mortar or in e-commerce. In all our categories, audio, imaging, TV… we will continue on with our premium message, a premium approach. We will continue to work closely with the retail partners we feel are capable and interested in quality demonstrations of what Sony has to offer among content, device and entertainment.”

To that end, Sony is opening more brick-and-mortar stores-within-a-store. It is first taking a few steps back by closing eight of its 10 Sony-owned stores. Many of the employees in the closed stores will be hired by CE retailers such as Best Buy, which already has a number of Sony Experience sections. Sony trains the stores employees that work exclusively in the dedicated Sony Experience sections, even though they are on the store’s payroll. Fasulo said, “We train them. They are solely dedicated to Sony products, but our partners employ them.”

Fasulo also tried to clarify what he said was “the mistaken interpretation” of Sony CEO Kaz Hirai’s recent comments about a “spin-off” of the company’s audio/video device businesses. Fasulo said, “We’re not spinning anything off. [Hirai’s] message wasn’t ‘we’re getting out of any businesses.’ His message wasn’t ‘we’re divesting ourselves.’ His message was: ‘Different businesses, different markets require a different way of going to market.’”

It was the same strategy, he said, that Sony followed as shown last year when the company split out its TV set business. He said, “These are volatile categories and need some different solutions to be successful.” He said the strategy provided several advantages:
– Clear accountability for each group
– Autonomy in decision-making
– A light infrastructure that allows it to be competitive

Fasulo said, “I feel as if we got very clear direction and that direction is very well aligned with what I started when I got appointed a year ago. We need that focus, and I hope you’ve seen we realized that focus. We built that focus around product, process and people.”

He said the strategy is already paying off: “This past year …

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Iliad’s Free Uses Broadcom Chips to Produce World-Class Set-Top Box / Net-Top Box

- 4K, Android TV, Wi-Fi 11ac, Google Play, Cellular Booster, HEVC, HDMI 2.0, Bluetooth
– Plus a Triple Play Service for €30 ($32) per Month
– Disruptive? You Bet!

Iliad-owned Free has been a major innovator and disruptor in France’s cellular, broadband and pay TV markets. Now it has launched Europe’s first 4K capable, Android TV set-top box.

Free has used Broadcom’s 4K chipset to produce a world-class 4K-capable Android TV STB called Freebox that’ll provide triple play services at the same €30 ($32) per month as the prior non-4K model. (Yes! €30 ($32) per month for broadband, pay TV and telephone service.) It’s a major move for Free, one that is sure to be felt by all of Free’s competitors.

Customers of Free’s premium Freebox Revolution STB will be able to add a mini 4K box for €1.99 ($2.14) a month.

The major functions of the Freebox are:
– For starters, the Freebox uses Google’s Android TV platform, which means users can access Google Play Store, Films, Games, Music and, the world’s most popular OTT service, YouTube.
– In addition to Google Play, Free has developed its own apps including its Video Club VOD services and access to content from the Canal+ and CanalSat.
– It supports the telcos’ ADSL2+, VDSL 2 and fiber broadband.
– The 11ac version of Wi-Fi with speeds of up to 450 Mbps in and around the home, thanks to Broadcom chips.
– A built-in Femtocell helps mobile phone users that live in areas where cellular reception is poor.
– Oh, it has 200 pay TV channels with 49 of them in HD but none so far in 4K. For 4K, users will have to access an OTT service over Free’s broadband network. A UHD TV set is needed to view 4K content regardless of the content’s source.
– The Free box has both a standard remote and voice control, which can even be verbally commanded to perform a search.
– It is five times smaller than the prior STB.

 

Home_AndroidTV

Free from Iliad: Trojan warriors not included

 

Free, which began offering a cheap, no-contract cellular service in 2012, also stirred up the cellular market anew by announcing that subscribers to its triple-play Free boxes can receive up to four — as opposed to the prior two — mobile subscriptions, at a €4 ($4.30) discount or €16 a month. Free has about 14% of the French cellular market.

Broadcom’s BCM7252 STB system-on-chip (SoC) enables the box to provide streaming, terrestrial, on-demand and recorded content in SD, HD and 4K. Broadcom’s chips are the first to support 4Kp60 10-bit HEVC content. They also support HDMI 2.0.

Broadcom provides both the chipset that goes in the STB and the one that goes in the remote, which uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to enable such streaming features as Google Cast.

Broadcom has been far and away the leader in chips for 4K capable STBs and UHD TV sets. India’s satellite TV services, Tata Sky and Videocon d2h, have publicly committed to using Broadcom’s chips in their 4K STBs. Dish and TiVo have demonstrated STBs with Broadcom’s 4K chipsets.

Iliad founder, Xavier Niel, said at the launch in Paris, “The fixed business is our core” because the company first built its wireline footprint band then added cellular services. Echoes of what the cablecos are doing!

Rich Nelson, SVP of Broadcom’s marketing, broadband and connectivity group, said that because its chips support Android TV, Free will be able to provide “exciting 4K content in addition to all the benefits of the Android TV ecosystem.”

Free general manager Sébastien Boutruche said its customers “will enjoy the stunning clarity of Ultra HD 4K content.”

In September, 2014, Free had 5.8 million broadband subscribers and 9.6 million mobile subscribers.

We think Free will be able to use the Freebox to …

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In This Week’s Edition of The Online Reporter…

The Online Reporter no. 920

 

TOR 2013 logo

 

THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

Iliad’s Free Uses Broadcom Chips to Produce World-Class STB/NTB

HBO Now’ Will Reveal Pay TV’s Worth

The Wisdom of Comcast: Part 2

Home Theater Review Asks “How Big Is Your Pipe”?’

Xiaomi to Invest in 100 Companies with Enabling Technologies

Sidelining the Carriers: Google Stores and Apple Watch

OnePlus Emulating Xiaomi But Outside of China

 

UHD

Sony’s USA Retail Is Focused on, You Bet, 4K

 

OTT SERVICES, APPS AND SCREENS

The Internet TV Floodgates Are Open

There Is Life Yet in Broadcast TV, With the Help of OTT

Verizon’s Mobile Streaming Service Will Appear this Summer

Sony’s Internet TV Service Vue’ Won’t Appear until End of Year

Hulu Is Elegant’ Compared to Linear TV

Yahoo Expands Partnership with ABC

Here’s a List of All the Major Internet TV Services

Cable TV Down, SVoD Up

It’s Not the End of Television as We Know It

 

ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES

BROADBAND BEAT

Cablecos Keep Upping Speed Advantage over Copper Wire Telcos

Please Don’t Laugh! AT&T Upgrading to 75 Mbps

FTTH Is Booming in France

Google Fiber Raises Pay TV Rates by $10/month

Home Gateway’s Wi-Fi Has Become Center of Broadband Battle

 

ENABLING TECHNOLOGY

New Apple MacBook Goes Wireless, Well Almost

WiGig Expected in Smartphones by Year-End

 

WIRELESS BROADBAND

MWC: Mobile Shake-Up Looms, But Not From 5G

Verizon Not Worried about Cablecos’ Wi-Fi First Phone Service

CenturyLink Eyeing More Wireline Footprint

Vodafone to Launch Wi-Fi Calling

 

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

Sling TV’s First Month Saw Hundreds of Thousands’ Sign Up

Millennial Viewers Relate to YouTube over TV

Asia Pacific to Account for 68% of Residential FTTH/B

Americans Have Stopped Using Wireline Phones

Report: Many Telcos Considering Offering FTTH

SVoD Services Are Taking a Toll on TV Network Ratings

 

DIGI GRAMS

Verizon Says Bye-Bye to The Weather Channel

No One Takes a Gig Service’

Slow the Cost of Content to Spur Broadband Expansion & Upgrades

Will HBO Now Succeed?

Bewkes: Pay TV Operators Will Come Around for HBO Now

Cord Cutter: I’ve Got More Content Than I Know What to Do with’

Here Comes another New Pay TV Service: Vodafone

Never Ever Stand in the Way of What the Customer Wants’

 

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Sling TV Signs Up More Content Partners

Dish Network’s first-to-market Internet TV service, Sling TV, has fleshed out its video offering significantly since its debut in late 2014. It’s another sign that pay TV content owners are looking to find audiences online, instead of in front of the TV set.

Sling TV is the US’ first live streaming pay TV service, and it mimics the Internet TV models that have found success in Europe. Sling TV, which offers a limited selection of pay TV channels to live stream for $20 per month, has expanded its tiered options to include a total of three:
-Hollywood tier includes Epix, Epix2, Epix3, Epix Drive-In and Sundance TV.
-Sports Package includes SEC Network, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Universal Sports, Univision Deportes, beIN Sports, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and ESPN Goal Line.
-The children’s tier includes Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV

All of the tier packages are an additional $5 per month to subscribers.

 

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Live streaming pay TV services are already successful in Europe

 

Dish has also signed up new channels for the basic package. Sling TV viewers can now watch the highly coveted AMC and IFC networks at no additional charge. Disney’s online video network Maker Studios is expected to launch a new Web video channel on Sling TV called Polaris+, which will offer gaming-related video content.

The OTT Experiments in Other Markets

Content owners are also fielding OTT trials in other markets in Europe, the lessons from which will be applied to those networks’ inevitable US OTT launches.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav recently touted the company’s direct-to-consumer Internet TV products are doing well in Europe. “Our European OTT offerings are giving us a growing revenue stream, a growing direct-to-consumer offering, and valuable learnings that we can apply in the US and other markets, and we are just getting started,” he said.

Premium pay TV network Starz is gearing up to launch its standalone OTT product, called Starz Play International. The OTT service will be released later this year “in select emerging markets,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. “I think it certainly is a model that we can replicate in other territories and regions outside the US,” he said. He added that the content licensed for a US version of the Starz OTT service would be different. “From a model point of view, the businesses could be the same; from a content point of view that would look differently,” he said.

CBS has indicated it’s looking at launching an SVoD service for its premium pay TV channel, Showtime. And last week, Albert Fried and Company analyst Rich Tullo predicted pay TV channel AMC will launch its own a la carte Internet TV service sometime this year, too.

2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Internet TV services. Meanwhile, Leichtman Research Group released new data this week showing total pay TV subscribers in the United States dropped by 125,000. That’s the second consecutive contraction …

 

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Deutsche Telekom to Offer 200 Mbps with Hybrid Wireline/LTE Router

Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) new hybrid router is intended to improve broadband speeds in Germany’s sparsely settled areas by using both copper wire based DSL and stationary but wireless LTE broadband. DT last week announced the router’s nationwide availability at the Mobile World Conference.

We first reported on the concept in an article about a Lantiq chip and product design to accomplish just that in June 2013.

We do not know whether Lantiq’s chips are in the new DT router — or some other company’s. What is certain is that the copper wire DSL and LTE together will ensure a more consistent speed for streaming videos.

If the hybrid router can indeed provide speeds of up to 200 Mbps, as DT says, it’s probably 80 to 100 Mbps of that over a VDSL2 vectoring copper wire broadband and 100 Mbps or so over LTE — although those speeds both sound ambitious. Subscribers in sparsely settled areas would be happy to get one-half of the 200 Mbps. There are no applications currently that require speeds in excess of 100 Mbps — not even three or four simultaneous 4K streams.

 

Schloss_Neuschwanstein_from_Marienbruecke

DT’s rural Germany: broadband customer is king

 

“In rural areas we have build-out obligations and it could help people out of the digital divide,” CEO Tim Höttges told reporters at MWC. “Cable operators have never invested in these areas — they have always hit the sweet spots.”

Monthly cost Wireless Speed Fixed Line Speed Total Broadband Speed
€29.95 ($34) 16 Mbps 16 Mbps 32 Mbps
€34.95 ($39) 50 Mbps 50 Mbps 100 Mbps
€39.95 ($45) 100 Mbps 100 Mbps 200 Mbps

Not bad, eh? By comparison to the US, it certainly beats what AT&T is offering in much of its footprint, what Verizon and Frontier are offering in their all-copper footprints — as are CenturyLink and too many other telcos.

DT said it would add a pay TV service next year. Its subscribers could of course buy a smart TV, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku or such and immediately begin watching a fast growing amount of compelling content from an OTT service.

DT plans to offer the hybrid router in its footprint outside of Germany such as in Hungary.

 

What’s Good for the Goose

If the integration of DSL and LTE is good enough for DT in sparsely populated areas, it’s good enough for Telefónica Germany (TG), the country’s second largest telco, which offers landline and DSL services including high-speed VDSL services that it provides as a result of having a local loop unbundling deal with DT. It has about 4 million DSL/VDSL subscribers. TG is said to be testing an integrated DSL/LTE product.

 

DT’s Challengers

DT’s big challenge is the cablecos. It’s learning what other telcos have already experienced. For example, Vodafone’s Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cableco, is offering 200 Mbps in some locations now and in November it will extend that to its entire footprint — 1.8 million residences. Tele Columbus has said it will offer 400 Mbps in some locations next month.

As we reported last month, DT is evaluating a 250 Mbps version of “super vectoring” from Huawei Technologies. But, it’s not an industry standard and telcos tend to avoid using non-industry standards because they are proprietary and generally available only from a single source.

Then there’s G.fast, which we’ve been told DT is evaluating but is avoiding for the moment because G.fast requires the fiber node be located closer to the residence than VDSL2 Vectoring.

All this shows that telcos do not have a singular strategy that is simple and straight forward such as the one the cablecos have with DOCSIS in it various but compatible versions. Telcos are deploying some form of DSL and/or VDSL2 bonding and/or VDSL2 Vectoring and/or G.fast and/or FTTH.

DT further muddles the broadband technology strategy mixture by adding stationary LTE.

Cablecos Telcos
DOCSIS DSL in several versions
VDSL in several versions
VDSL2 bonding
VDSL2 Vectoring
G.fast
FTTH
LTE

Having a single set of broadband technologies reduces the cablecos’ costs for …

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G.fast Goes Wireless – to MDUs at 1 Gbps

- Aims at World’s Millions of MDU Residences
– Speeds up to 1 Gbps via Roof-top Antenna, Fiber to a Wiring Closet and Existing Copper Wires to Each Residence

Until now, G.fast has depended on telcos deploying fiber to within a few hundred yards of the residence. That is not always possible or affordable. Now broadband service providers can use wireless antennae within about 2.5 miles of an MDU, thanks to a partnership between Siklu, a wireless technology company, and Sckipio, a maker of G.fast chips. Speeds for residences can be up to 1 Gbps.

The network architecture:
- The antenna, typically located on the roof of a multi-story MDU, must be within line-of-sight of another like-antenna
– Fiber is used from the antenna to a wiring closet, typically located in the basement of an MDU
– Each G.fast distribution point in the wiring closet can use the building’s existing copper phone wires to connect to up to 16 individual residences.

Inside the MDU’s residences or offices, a G.fast modem or gateway is used to connect the Internet to mobile and stationary devices within the home or office.

 

Fast & Easy (Relatively) Gigabit Broadband for MDUs

 

The biggest benefits:
- No street digging/trenching is required, which saves time and money plus solves a problem with streets that are old and are in many places considered “antique.”
– The time-to-market for a 1 Gbps per residence network can be measured in months, not in years and the costs in millions, not billions.
– The 60-80 MHz spectrum that’s used costs much less than comparable cellular frequencies.

Siklu and Sckipio say that their technologies will allow service providers to offer, at affordable monthly rates, speeds up to 1.0 Gbps to broadband consumers who live in dense, city environments. The question is who those broadband providers will be:
– Telcos in areas where they have not built all-fiber networks have been badly beaten in broadband speeds by cablecos — see the example in last week’s The Online Reporter that compares current speeds between Cox and AT&T on a typical American broadband stand-off in the suburbs. If telcos deploy the Siklu-Sckipio technology, it could be done through either their cellular or wireline operations.
– Cellcos such as Sprint and T-Mobile USA that are not now in the wireline broadband business may see this as an opportunity to offer gigabyte broadband and compete against the telcos and cablecos’ bundling of wireline and wireless.
– Third parties such as Google may see this as an opportunity to extend their all-fiber networks into areas where wires are not so easy to install as they were in the suburbs of the Kansas Citys and Austins.
– Municipalities may see the advantages to their citizens’ pleasure and business opportunities and decide to deploy the Siklu-Sckipio hybrid wireless/wireline technology to supplement their all-fiber networks.

Siklu uses E-Band and V-Band millimeter wave wireless antennae that are connected to G.fast distribution points in the MDU. It said it can provide up to 2 Gbps of aggregated traffic over distances as far as 2.5 miles using spectrum between 60-80 GHz.

The technology can also be used at universities and businesses that are located in campus-like settings.

Mark Lowenstein, managing director the consultancy Mobile Ecosystem, said, “Fiber backhauling in urban settings is very difficult and expensive. Combining it with G.fast creates real opportunities for wireless ISPs to deliver higher capacity for small cells, public Wi-Fi and affordable ultra-broadband.”

It’s a big market. An estimated 30% of US broadband subscribers are said to live in MDUs and it’s an even higher percentage in Europe and Asia.

Itzik Ben-Bassat, CEO of Siklu, said, “In cities such as San Francisco and New York, it is very challenging to trench fiber to the building and its impractical to install fiber all the way to each residence. By combining these two emerging technologies together, we can solve many of the major logistical, regulatory, and installation problems that make it expensive to deliver gigabit broadband to city-dwellers.”

Sckipio CEO David Baum said, “Siklu lowers the costs to deliver ultra-broadband to the building, and Sckipio’s G.fast lowers the cost to deliver ultra-broadband to users within the building. Combining these two market disrupters will create many new opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to deliver innovative broadband solutions to millions of consumers and business customers.”

Siklu said its gigabit capable millimeter wave wireless backhaul technology is in the most deployed millimeter wave radios in the world and it delivers thousands of units that are capable of carrier-grade performance in varying weather conditions around the world.

Telcos’ DSL Broadband Has Lost the Battle
The FCC has said that the minimum speed to be considered broadband is 25 Mbps. By that count, 93% of all the telcos’ DSL subscribers do not have broadband.

Here are the broadband speed comparisons in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana neighborhood:

AT&T
Monthly Speed (Mbps)
$34.95 6 with a $50 rewards card, 1-year contract
$44.95 18 with a $50 rewards card, 1-year contract
$49.00 18 with basic TV, HBO GO & Amazon Prime but no reward card

That’s it. Not even 25 Mbps, which is what the FCC now considers to be the lowest speed that can be called broadband. It’s interesting that the fastest speed is intended to appeal to cord cutters by including Amazon Prime and HBO Go — although Netflix is noticeable by its absence.

On AT&T’s Web page, when it searches to see whether you can get its wireline broadband service at your residence, the first screen that pops up is an ad for AT&T’s cellular service, which says a lot about where AT&T’s heart and pocketbook is these days: Entirely wireless with cellular now and wireless satellite pay TV down the road once it acquires DirecTV as it has proposed to do.

By comparison, Cox, even before it installs the first new fiber, offers these speeds in the same neighborhood:

Cox
Monthly Speed in Mbps
$34.99 5 plus 5 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$49.99 50 plus 50 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$59.99 100 plus 100 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$79.99 150plus 150 GB cloud, 1-year contract

It’s clear. If you want simple, slow broadband at the cheapest price — like for email, texting and some browsing of text only Web sites, AT&T has the best deal, barely, at $34.99 for 6 Mbps. But if you and your family want a modern broadband service that’ll handle multiple TV, smartphones, gaming consoles and tablets, then …

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