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Verizon: No Way on tru2way

Jeff Baumgartner
8/5/2008
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Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that pretty much confirms it has no plans to adopt tru2way , a platform it views as entirely cable-centric and proprietary. (See Do the Telcos Fear tru2way?)

It's not that Verizon wants to sink a dagger into the heart of tru2way -- it just wants the FCC to also consider a standard for two-way navigation devices (such as digital TVs and set-top boxes) that would work with "the services of all providers, regardless of platform of technology."

Or at least that's how Verizon spelled it out in its letter submitted to the Commission on July 31.

As things stand today, cable is making significant progress in developing "common reliance" with tru2way, thanks in large part to that "binding" memorandum of understanding originally negotiated by Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and the top six incumbent U.S. cable operators. (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU and Sony Supports tru2way.)

Several other CE companies have signed on since then. (See More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way and tru2Way Tallies Two More.)

CableLabs has been encouraging telcos to adopt tru2way, but its pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears. (See Telcos: Climb Aboard the Tru2way Train.)

Although tru2way will enable the creation of two-way devices for cable networks, "it is not compatible with other video providers' networks, including Verizon's all-fiber FiOS network," Verizon argued.

Tru2way, the telco notes, assumes the existence of an RF return path. While that's something present on a traditional cable plant, it "does not exist on fiber networks or on services provided by satellite operators or IPTV providers," Verizon argues.

An IP centerpiece?
Tru2way isn't the only approach to two-way navigation in the market, but it does appear to be the strongest at the moment.

For example, DCR+, an alternative proposal to tru2way backed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Sony (before it struck its tru2way deal with the MSOs), appears to have run out of steam. (See Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC.)

So Verizon has come up with an alternative approach -- an IP-based platform that uses "the low-cost and ubiquitously used" RJ45 Ethernet interface.

"In contrast, a purely cable-centric approach that does not provide a more universal interface such as Ethernet would hamper innovation and development of competitive alternatives to the cable incumbents," the telco contends.

The FCC has yet to thrust an adoption mandate regarding two-way navigation on cable operators and other video service providers, but it could issue an order later this year.

Universal approach
Another alternative is a universal system that would apply to all multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs), including cable operators, telcos, and satellite service providers. That's an approach in which the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has shown interest.

There's no sign of any vendor support as yet for an all-MVPD approach, which would require a standalone network interface device that could serve as the master translator, supporting all manner of cable, satellite, and telco TV service providers.

The NCTA declined to comment on Verizon's letter to the FCC, but the cable pressure group did explore the "All-MVPD" concept in a filing with the FCC last September. In addition to calling on the Commission to endorse the "OpenCable Platform" (now called tru2way), the NCTA also asked the FCC to invite other video program distributors to collaborate on an "all-MVPD solution."

NCTA said the proposal offers "a constructive approach in which consumer devices can work on all MVPD systems, yet still allow MVPD networks to select their own technology, [and] differentiate themselves."

In its letter last week, Verizon said it's "encouraged" by NCTA's interest in developing such a system, "and we hope that CE manufacturers and other interested stakeholders will do the same."

The telco claimed that such standards work is already underway at the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) , the industry group that welcomed CableLabs as an affiliate member earlier this year. (See CableLabs Joins ATIS.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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Duh!
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Duh!,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 3:35:10 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Correction... that's "interfaces on the back of CE"
Duh!
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Duh!,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 3:35:10 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Once upon a time, standards were made under open processes, by acredited committees. Everybody with a 'material interest' in the subject matter had a place at the table, and all voices had to be heard. Consensus ruled, and there were no kings or king makers whose fiats could not be overruled. Every technical comment had to be addressed, and if an interest group felt that its concerns were not being addressed, the standard would be sent back to committee to fix what was broken.

Sadly, that's almost all gone. IEEE 802 is an old boy's club, still open but overly process bound. ATIS a ghost of its better past, IETF an oligarchy claiming to be a democracy and acting like an anarchy, ISO a forum for IPR tussles. Maybe there are still good examples out there, but I sure can't think of one.

And in the long run, whatever advantage is supposed to come out of consortia with murky processes, restricted membership, closed meetings, dominance by one interest group, and lack of due process is doomed -- precisely because too many relevant dissenting interests are suppressed. Case in point. Now we're going to need two (or more) standards, more interfaces on the back of settops, more software to drive them and less economy of scale, all because the folks who drove the standard wouldn't play nicely with others.

Yeah, the processes that created the standards of the past were slow, meetings sometimes contentious, due process was occasionally derailed and the results were sometimes camels. But it was still a lot better way to do business than what exists now.

Now, you damn kids get off my lawn!
bollocks187
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bollocks187,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:35:08 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
It is just another form of cable/MSO control.

Cablelabs is paid by the MSO to protect the market so its not suprising that Verizon does not want to support it.

Its not a "standard" if it is controlled by CableLabs - which it is.


thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:35:07 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
I think VerizonGÇÖs clam that they donGÇÖt have a RF return is a bit false; my understanding is that once FIOS hits the ONT at the house the architecture inside is basically node +0 so itGÇÖs a small scale HFC right in your home. Would that not be a RF return?

I think they just want to fight back against a MSO driven standard (and understandable so). If they wanted to make Tru2way work on there network they could. And if they have to at some point they will.
Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:35:06 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
The letter made it sound like the RF return was one of the purported incompatibilities, but I think you'll find plenty of agreement that Verizon would rather avoid anything that smacks of cable industry control...even if they can technically make tru2way work on their plant.
nodak
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nodak,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:35:04 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
I attended one of the meetings on the Very Short Reach interface standard being worked on by OIF. The Worldcom rep stood up in that meeting and said if the standard did not include an interface with a 10dB+ link budget to handle OOO switches, they would go to another standards body to get one passed there. This sounds similar to that, though I can see Verizon's point that it may not work well with other technologies, especially IPTV.

The problem today is there are too many standards bodies out there trying to standardize the same thing because some vendor wants their methodology to be used so they can be first to market. I think one of the best things the FCC could do is to put one standards body over all and force everyone to work together on this, though everyone would probably scream about how this would stifle innovation.
^Eagle^
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^Eagle^,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:34:59 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Nodak,

I think there must be some confusion. OIF is specifically working on long reach links. NOT VSR. IEEE 802.3 sub-committee, also known as HSSG is driving the short reach specs ( up to 40km with special emphasis on <500m, <2km, and less than 10km).

OIF is working on standards for long reach, 40km and above. Especially DWDM Metro and DWDM LH.

So, in this context, Worldcom's request for 10db link budget might not seem so radical.

Given this distinction, either the "worldcom rep" was in the wrong place entirely (OIF is not working on VSR) and he/she should be embarassed... or somehow you mis-understood.

Also, I am confused.... I thought the company was now called MCI/Verizon or Verizon..... Worldcom is no longer in existence.

So, I am wondering how a "worldcom rep" stood up at OIF.

Sailboat
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:34:54 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Yeah; I think they are just looking to make waves for MSOs. Lets face it as they are rolling out a competitive delivery platform itGÇÖs in there best interest.

But I think if tru2way catches on like it seems to be doing you will see Verizion reluctantly conform to the standard. I guess the only question really is will they make the move fast enough for there customers.
nodak
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nodak,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:34:49 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Sailboat

I should have dated the post. This was back in 2001 or so. Here is a link to the standard they created:

http://www.oiforum.com/public/...
Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:34:49 PM
re: Verizon: No Way on tru2way
Right, it will be interesting to see how the momentum tru2way has with some of the CE industry biggies (Sony, Panasonic, et al) affects VZ's thinking. In a way, tru2way has already become a de facto standard in terms of current and expected adoption.
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