Cisco's Triple Threat

5:00 PM -- From The Philter's They Can Patent Anything file, I present to you hard proof that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) owns the triple play.

Patent 7075919, awarded to Cisco earlier this year, states that Cisco is the proud owner of any "System and method for providing integrated voice, video and data to customer premises over a single network."

There's some weird history here. Apparently the patent was written by Tom Wendt, who used to be an executive at Sandstream Communications & Entertainment, Inc., an early IPTV distribution company. Sandstream died in either the late 90s or early aughts and Cisco picked up its intellectual property in a sale.

The patent was written by Wendt, who founded Optical Entertainment Network, and others in August 2000 and the patent was granted nearly six years later.

What does it mean? Well, it's hard to say. But reading through the broadly-worded claim, it sounds as though Cisco could go to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Charter Communications Inc. , and any other company providing voice, data, and video services across a single network and ask for some scratch.

And, if carriers do have to pay a triple play tax to Cisco, would that mean our broadband prices would go up? Telcos have already made it clear that they don't mind passing unexpected costs (and savings) on to customers. (See Verizon Drops New DSL Fees.)

Check out some of the patent language:

Rather than attempting to converge the incompatible architectures, protocols, and other characteristics of the various existing voice, video and data network infrastructures, the present invention provides a single fully interoperable network that uses a common standard protocol, such as TCP/IP, to provide integrated voice, video, and data content to customer premises over a single communication link. Since all services are provided to the customer premises using a single network infrastructure, problems associated with delivering incompatible services to the customer premises are eliminated. The single network infrastructure of the present invention also allows for enhanced troubleshooting, fault-tolerance, access restriction, and other important benefits.

Imagine the possibilities if one could actually build a triple play network, as proposed by the Cisco patent:

Similarly, media hosting servers may provide content, such as video games, music files, and video on demand (VOD), that is stored digitally and communicated over network in the form of TCP/IP packets. Media hosting servers will typically include "TCP/IP stacks" that provide the necessary hardware and software for encapsulating data for transmission as TCP/IP packets. After the selected services have been converted, if appropriate, into TCP/IP packets and communicated to network, the services may be delivered in any suitable combination to customer premises according to the particular needs of associated users.

Games, music, and video on demand? Well, most carriers aren't that advanced yet. But it will be interesting to watch if either Cisco or Mr. Wendt lawyer-up on some carriers in an attempt to collect a buck for the idea of a multiservice, single protocol, one-wire network reaching consumer homes.

Stranger things have happened, I'm sure. (Remember when BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) claimed to own hyperlinking?) But the triple play network is, indeed, an idea whose time has come.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

OpticalZoo 12/5/2012 | 3:37:43 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat IP Convergence: The Next Revolution in Telecommunications

Looks like he is talking about what Cisco patented. This book was published in 1999.


OK time to go to bed. The buzz is wearing off. Can't wait to wake up and see my grammer errors tomorrow.
OpticalZoo 12/5/2012 | 3:37:43 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat Oh yeah they are not going to go after cable companies. They are going to go after their competitors. Nortel, Alcatel, Lucent, Avaya, et al.

Video over IP is the next big thing for the vendors. Huge bandwidth requirements, low latency, QoS = huge profit for vendors. But as long as the ISP offer crappy speeds they can delay it for as long as possible.
OpticalZoo 12/5/2012 | 3:37:43 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat Being a Tech Nerd and being previous involved in the patent process (submitted a patent) I thought I would share my thoughts on this patent.

All of the mumbo jumbo in a patent does not mean anything. The only thing that is of value is the CLAIMS section of the patent. That is what they are claiming and if it ever went to court that is what they dispute. Everything before the claims is just eye candy.

So letGs look at the claims.

They are 3 pages and but I will try to sum it up in a nutshell. They claim a method for taking voice and video and convert it to a common format (example: IP) for distribution on a single network infrastructure. Along with voice and video they claim to take data already in the common format and put it on the single network infrastructure. Off of the single network infrastructure they will have multiple customer premises and deliver the services in the common format. There are some other details as you read on in the claims but this is the basis of the patent in my eyes.

So what they are saying is that they came up with the idea for voice, video, and data over one network using IP (UDP,TCP). I am sorry but who are these morons in the patent office? This concept has been around for quite some time and before 2000. Many of the early discussions were regarding what protocol would be better for this ATM or IP. Well we all know IP won out. But if you do a google search you will find articles talking about this well before 2000. Cisco had a published white paper close to this concept in 1999. Also VoIP has been around long before 2000. I was involved with some early trials/discussions doing voice, video and data over IP in early 2000.

So pre 2000 the single network infrastructure is the internet and many people watch videos (Windows media, quicktime, real media, et al), and used voice communication over the internet, while surfing the web over a common format of IP. So that basically is similar to what they are talking about.

What about cable companies that offered these 3 services before 2000? I know cox offered this long ago. Now all the services might not be using a common format like IP but I am sure you can say signaling it over coax is a common format. Common for the cable companies. And it was a single network.

And if this was a valid patent there are ways around it. First off instead of converting voice and video why not encapsulate it? Or encrypt it? Or scramble it? And what the hell defines a common format?

So what they get royalties from every user that uses VoIP, watches Youtube, while surfing the web?

This patent would never hold up. I am sure there are smarter people then I that could tear this thing up. I donGt blame Cisco for submitting this, but the patent office should be ashamed. This is vague and is not an invention. There is a difference between an invention and discovery. If they wanted to define the exact way they are converting and formatting it I would be ok with that. Cisco is great at proprietary ideas!
OpticalZoo 12/5/2012 | 3:37:43 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat The cable companies don't offer these services over a common format currently do they? It's over a common medium but not format.
sigint 12/5/2012 | 3:37:42 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat This is likely a defensive patent. Typically, they'll let anyone use this "technical innovation" without charge, as long as the other party doesn't litigate against cisco. sue, and get slapped with a patent violation.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:37:41 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat Oh yeah they are not going to go after cable companies. They are going to go after their competitors. Nortel, Alcatel, Lucent, Avaya, et al.

Cisco is an IPR member at CableLabs. CableLabs basically exists to suck the IPR out of vendors and introduce price competition into the products the MSOs buy. Nobody who sells into cable is going to be gone after by Cisco.
issey 12/5/2012 | 3:37:32 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat It was not just world's first but was commercialised as IPTV and service provided to subscribers for around 4 years, before being stopped and re-launched in 2003/2004 as NOW tv..

dates may be a bit off but the gist is.. Cisco is cluching at straws.
issey 12/5/2012 | 3:37:32 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat NEC had a working system in HK with HKtelecom and subsequent PCCW back in 95 or 96, it was the worlds first.. I am sure those guys there can dispute anything Cisco can come up with..
rbkoontz 12/5/2012 | 3:37:04 AM
re: Cisco's Triple Threat This patent is a joke. Sourcenet, an ISP from Reno NV, developed and deployed some of the first converged triple play middleware in the 96-97 timeframe. This company was later renamed Myrio and was purchased by Siemens.
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