The Slow Road to PacketCable 2.0
That report, PacketCable 2.0 & IMS: Cable & Telco Worlds Collide, details the role, capabilities, and advantages of this emerging architecture, while examining how vendors are incorporating the technology into their product lineups and how quickly operators plan to test or deploy it.
PacketCable 2.0 follows in the footsteps of the IP voice-centric PacketCable 1.x specs, as well as PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM), a platform that supplies quality of service (QOS) for all forms of IP applications and services.
Based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and borrowing heavily from session initiation protocol (SIP), PacketCable 2.0 aims to give cable operators a way to bridge services and applications across wireline and wireless access networks, and to add service mobility to the mix.
PacketCable 2.0 "breaks down the walls dividing the cable industry's separate voice, video, and data silos, and then combines them into one single, integrated network," writes report author and Heavy Reading senior analyst Alan Breznick.
IMS hype reached a fever pitch about two years ago, with cable and telco observers viewing it as the "next big thing." But the complexities of PacketCable 2.0 and the costs associated with the migration from cable's legacy systems have caused some to believe operators won't make the leap for at least two -- and perhaps as many as five -- more years.
Although IMS was hot a year or two ago, "the sense I got is that it's very cool right now," Breznick says, noting that cable operators are focusing the spotlight on high-profile projects such as Docsis 3.0, which is being developed more urgently due to competitive pressures originating from telcos and their fiber-to-the-home network rollouts. "They (cable operators) are focused on SIP, but not IMS as much. There's not the buzz that was around it."
Still, "I think they're beyond hype mode, and looking at the practicality of making this thing happen," he adds.
Another factor slowing deployment plans: PacketCable 2.0 is a platform and doesn't offer operators any new "killer apps" -- at least none yet that operators would throw a ton of money at.
"The issue is, you've got a big up-front investment. PacketCable 2.0 is probably 18 months to two years away," says Dermot O'Carroll, senior vice president of engineering and network operations for Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RG; Toronto: RCI), in the report. "We've got a ways to go."
"It's going to be a gradual migration," adds David Gaetani, director of business development for Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), another PacketCable 2.0 expert cited in the report. "I think it'll come in pieces."
Still, that has not stopped the industry from trying to figure out how those pieces will fit together. In addition to the RFI, CableLabs has recently launched a PacketCable 2.0 Applications Lab at its Louisville, Colo., facility.
PacketCable 2.0 deployments remain far out on the horizon, but Breznick reports that MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , Rogers, and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are preparing to start some extensive field trials of some apps that ride on the new architecture by early 2008.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
The report, PacketCable 2.0 & IMS: Cable & Telco Worlds Collide, is available as part of an annual subscription (6 bimonthly issues) to Light Reading’s Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $900.