September 12, 2003
After a year of development, the latest DSL Forum technical specifications have hit the streets. The impact of the new specs, which detail the next generation of broadband services, could be huge, as vendors scramble to upgrade products to meet the requirements, and carriers begin deploying new revenue generating services enabled by the new architecture.
At a meeting last week in Boston, the DSL Forum gave final approval to two working text documents, WT-080 and WT-081 (see Carriers Want a Little B-RAS on the Edge). The specifications, now known as technical reports TR-058 and TR-059, specify hardware and software changes required to push new services to customers over DSL networks.
The specs are the result of work championed by three regional Bell operating companies -- BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC).
The new architecture will allow carriers to offer a whole menu of new services like voice over IP, streaming video and audio, video on demand, music downloads, movie downloads, online gaming, software services, and video conferencing.
The financial potential for such services is huge. According to a report that will be published on Monday by market research firm TeleChoice Inc., carriers could increase service revenues by nearly $1 billion in the first couple of years (see TeleChoice Touts DSL Growth).
Charging only $10 extra for premium service, TeleChoice estimates, carriers could generate an annual revenue rate of $972 million worldwide by penetrating only 13.5 percent of the entire DSL populace. About $194 million of this could be generated in the U.S. alone, according to the report.
But service providers won’t be the only ones to benefit. The architecture will also drive demand for enhanced equipment, driving revenues up to a minimum of $810 million in the initial ramp of deployment, says the report.
Central to the TR-059 spec is a new generation of B-RAS (broadband remote access server). This product not only performs all the traditional B-RAS functions, like broadband aggregation and general purpose subscriber management, but it also includes intelligent features, like per-customer quality of service, billing, and dynamic bandwidth management. It also serves as a connection point between the customer and the service provider network helping facilitate and manage services like IP VPNs.
“The new architecture calls for the B-RAS to take on a much larger role in real-time handling of customer QOS,” says Tom Starr, president and chairman of the DSL Forum and principal member of the technical staff at SBC Communications. “The presumption is that customers will pay extra for the additional bandwidth flexibility and QOS.”
TR-059 outlines general guidelines for this new class of product. First and foremost, the new B-RAS must fit seamlessly into the existing network. It also must support Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for DiffServ, as well as traffic policing, multiple queue management, and MPLS traffic mapping.
More specific details regarding signaling protocols and other fine points required for the B-RAS are currently being worked on in the DSL Forum working text document WT-092.
Some vendors are already in pretty good shape when it comes to supporting these new features, says Danny Briere, CEO of TeleChoice. The upcoming report analyzes the TR-059 readiness of nine vendors including: Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC) (Nasdaq: AFCI), Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Copper Mountain Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CMTN), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), Laurel Networks Inc., Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK).
According to the report, Copper Mountain, Juniper, Laurel, and net.com all get high marks for compliance with the TR-059 specification. The rest have some more work to do. For instance, AFC needs to add DiffServ support; Alcatel lacks QOS; and Cisco and Nortel don’t support ATM switching. Redback supports most of the key features, but Briere says it will need further upgrades to remain competitive with other players in the market.
”This is a real competitive opportunity for all of these vendors,” he says. “It’s really rare that the winners aren’t pre-determined. The whole purpose of the new B-RAS is that it will interoperate with existing gear. And just because Alcatel is the leading DSL vendor, doesn’t mean that it’s a slamdunk win.”
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
— For an exhaustive analysis of WT-81, attend the free, hour-long Webinar, Working Text 81: The B-RAS Blueprint, presented by Graham Beniston, Principal, Beniston Broadband Consulting, on Wednesday, September 17, at 12:00 p.m. New York / 5:00 p.m. London time. To learn more , or to sign up, please go here.
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