Verizon's Elby: IPTV Could Take Years

IPTV is the future, but the future isn't here yet, says Verizon's VP of network architecture

December 15, 2005

3 Min Read
Verizon's Elby: IPTV Could Take Years

NEW YORK -- {dirlink 5|205}'s (NYSE: VZ) Stuart Elby, vice president of network architecture and enterprise technology, let loose on Verizon's network buildout at The Light Reading Telecom Investment Conference here yesterday, outlining plans for a range of new services and technologies -- including IPTV.

In his keynote here, Elby said that the "IP paradigm shift" continues apace, and that Verizon will continue to move all new services to IP technology because "having a small number of networks is better than a large number of networks." The goal, said Elby, is to separate the applications from the network so that Verizon can roll out any type of new service over a single IP-based network.

Elby also had strong words for the IPTV crowd, saying that technology is not yet ready for deployment on a mass scale and likely won't be until late 2006 or 2007.

Verizon opted to deploy its FiOS TV services using existing RF (radio frequency) technology because "IPTV isn't ready yet, and we didn't want to wait... even if we could do it in stages. We can start getting revenue today."

Elby, in fact, accepted a Leading Lights Award on Wednesday night in recognition of his company's FiOS rollout. So far, Verizon is the only RBOC in North America delivering video over fiber. (See LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners.)

Verizon has taken a staged strategy to deploying IP video over fiber. In its first stage, it is deploying a fiber connection carrying two wavelengths to each customer. One wavelength will carry IP-based services such as VOIP, data, and video-on-demand. The second wavelength delivers traditional broadcast video using RF and QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) technology, which are common in the cable world.

Elby said that Verizon has taken this approach because IP multicast technology is not ready to scale to the size needed to deliver broadcast services. Elby pointed out that Verizon's video-on-demand services are based on IP technology, because on-demand video can be delivered to a user via a single unicast stream. But multicast IP is a whole different story.

"Technically speaking, the problem is getting highly scaleable IP multicast. Nobody has ever built an IP multicast network on that scale before."

Meanwhile, he says, Verizon's recently built optical backbone and IP network will allow the service provider to migrate PSTN services to the packet world. "We'll see an intelligent optical control plane in 2006 -- this is the equivalent of an SS7 [PSTN signaling] network."

The overall vision, said Elby, is to base its network on IP technologies -- whether it be a combination of MPLS, VOIP, and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) -- which allow it to push out any type of service to any kind of new device.

"I can have gateways that will push down services to the user independent of the handset."

Verizon palns to deploy a "Broadband Premises" gateway that can handle multiple residential services. Elby said the company plans in 2006 to deploy a new Optical Network Terminal (ONT) that delivers both VOIP and video services over Verizon's FiOS fiber access.

What other struggles does Elby see on the horizon? He expressed some need to streamline IMS technology, because "when you get too many people in the room you get too many interfaces. We like to see some consolidation of IMS from the vendors."

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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