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Optical/IP

DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services

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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dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 11:25:46 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services Sorry for the typos in the original. This version should be free of them.

The article states that these new standards will allow the service providers to charge a premium. Among the services suggested are VoIP, movies and games. It discusses a possible premium price of $10/month.

I can just imagine receiving a telephone call at dinner time with the sensational one time offer of voice service over the telephone network for only a $10 premium per month. All I have to do will be to subscribe to a broadband connection for more than I am paying for telephone service now to take advantage of this sensational offer. I am reminded of a call I received from Bell with an offer of competitive long distance rates. I told them it had to be cheap not competitive.

There must be a lot more to the services that are being contemplated than is stated in this article or there will be precious few customers taking advantage of it.

I suppose the other thing to wonder is why it is always movies or movies on demand that are going to solve all of the financial problems of this industry. VoD always fails in the market place but it is always revived as the apex of all applications.
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 11:25:46 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services
The artilce states that these new standards will allow the service providers to charge a premium. Among the services suggested are VoIP, movies and games. It discusses a possible premium price of $10/month.

I caqn jsut imagine receiving a telephone call at dinner time with the sensational one time offer of voice service over the telephone network for only a $10 premium per month. All I have to do will be to subscribe to a broadband connection fro more than I am paying fro telephone service now to take advantage of this sensational offer. I am reminded of a call I received from Bell with an offer of competitive long distance rates. I told them it had to be cheap not competitive.

There must be a lot more to the services that are being contemplated than is stated in this article or there will be precious few customers taking advantage of it.

I suppose the other thing to wonder is why it is always movies or movies on demand that are going to solve all of the financial propblems of this industry. VoD always fails in the market place but it is always revived as the apex of all applications.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:25:44 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services I suppose the other thing to wonder is why it is always movies or movies on demand that are going to solve all of the financial problems of this industry.

Agreed that movies are no panacea to our industries financial problems. It reminds me when a doctor prescribes pills for skeletal problems. I guess sometimes it's only the "easy" things in which we choose as our contributions.

Fincancial problems require financial solutions. The first step towards that is creating a marketplace with rules that motivates the actors to participate and provide goods and services. Structural separation is a first step in the right direction towards that.

VoD always fails in the marketplace

There is demand for VoD. Look to DVD sales for assurance. Since there is demand, and no supply, is it not the marketplace that is failing? Why can't the marketplace provide VoD and pay the supply chain? What parts are broken? Who is getting paid but is not supplying anything worthwhile for those monies?
aswath 12/4/2012 | 11:25:42 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services There must be a lot more to the services that are being contemplated than is stated in this article or there will be precious few customers taking advantage of it.

A hint of at least what one service provider is thinking of, see http://www.convergedigest.com/... . At least the two services mentioned here may be preempted by the current tariffs.

Aswath
MrLight 12/4/2012 | 11:25:39 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services The menu of new services listed in this article:

-voice over IP
-streaming video and audio
-video on demand, music downloads
-movie downloads
-online gaming
-software services
-video conferencing

is the standard broadband access wish list I have seen since the early '90's, except for the movie and music download part, since storage was expensive back then.

It will be interesting to see which of the above services generate sustainable revenue. A big obstacle of course is that the majority of the services are existing services that people already have access to from their internet connection for FREE, all be it
it is only best effort, but the FREE part makes best-effort tolerable.

I like most people would say the QoS for these services is what the DSL service providers should have provided to us in the first place. Now they want us to pay for what we believe we should have been getting as part of the original service all along - it makes for a tough sell wouldn't you say.


Okay, maybe I am being a big harsh, but hey a penny saved is a penny earned for most people including myself, so to spend those earned pennies we need to feel we are either getting our pennies worth or saving in some other way.

So how can we feel we are getting the above with DSL, well for one thing the service providers should first address the fundamental problems with DSL -


1.Coverage - it doesn't work on all loops.
2.Cost - so we subscriber can stop hearing those "we don't make enough money off DSL' complaints from the service providers. One way is by moving to it to a mainstream layer 2 Technology of Ethernet to jump onto the Ethernet cost reduction curve. The ATM equipment cost curve will never catch up.
2.Symmetrical residential bandwidth for enabling peer-to-peer and server at the home applications
3.Symmetrical business bandwidth for private-line and private-LAN services.
4.End-to-End quality of service across multiple ISPS. There are a few proposals already out there - say 802,1Q-in-802.1Q VLANS or better yet LER in the DSLAM working with LSRs in the core.
5.Multiple ISP support - Fully separate the carriage of the service from the service itself.
6.Integral media gateway support - H.248 signaling (for multimedia TDM (circuit) gateway H.320 [ISDN phones] or H.324 [analog phones] and an IP (packet) gateway H.323 [LAN based IP phones and LAN-operable DVC (desktop videoconferencing)) separate from the PC on the DSL line, with a life-line option version.

and while we are at it why not set it up to be easily migratable to the outside plant of the future, with:
7.Media interchangeable DSL for copper, fiber and wireless.
8.Life-line IP phones.
9.Downstream bandwidth increases for multiple HDTV VoD sessions to the settop.
10.Low-cost telemetry (utilities, surveillance etc) interface plug to the DSL line that can be shared by the utility and security companies.
11.Home network integration.
12.An inherent copyright control mechanism for digital content distribution and replication by the end user.

etc.

One last point with this concept of having the DSLAM handle more Layer 3 functions is that the rest of the core network needs to support such a change. QoS at the edge and no QoS in the core will mean limited QoS to the user.

MrLight...A past xDSL/HFC/PON/wireless system designer

PO 12/4/2012 | 11:25:39 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services The MPAA seems to be saying that VoD is succeeding in the marketplace (via KaZaA and its ilk), but that intellectual property protections are not yet ready to make the business case palatable to the industry.
dbriere 12/4/2012 | 11:25:34 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services I think that all the postings to date on this have raised some good issues, but I think it is important to understand what TR-059 is and is not.

Importantly, TR-059 is a means to provide control and shaping of the IP streams in the local access network. It can apply to fiber, to wireless, to DSL. It is embodied in the BRAS functionality, which can be deployed in a centralized fashion high in the access net, or distributed next to DSLAMs, or combinations in between. It enables QoS end to end in the access network to the interfaces with the other providers, and it is envisioned that applications services providers who want to offer things like VoIP, VoD or whatever services they want to, can be added to the network and be able to see the QoS at the new interfaces mandated by this specification.

So, telcos can offer the ability to have different bandwidth by user, like the parents could have one level of QoS and kids could have another. It could vary by time of day/day of week. It could vary by application, so when gaming is launched a more QoS-sensitive path is set up.

So the telcos can make money on this without actually launching all these applications services. The key is that with a BRAS in the network, now people have something to program towards.

One of the biggest aspects of TR-059 that has not really been talked about is that in the past, the nature of the DSLAM and DSL services meant that any bandwidth throttling was done at the DSLAM. With a BRAS, the DSL connection can run fully open will be throttled at the BRAS, which will result in decent decreases in latency, which are very important for gaming and other latency-sensitive services.

This is really a big thing, and I'm surprised there has not been more excitement over this. Yes we can think of all the things it's not, but I've used VoIP on Vonage and I'd love for there to have been more QoS on that service whenever I placed a call. With TR-059 in place, I could have that. Would I pay $10 extra a month to be able to have QoS through the access network, I think so definitely. You've got a lot of VoIP CPE that supports the QoS in this spec, so that is one application that could see near immediate applicability to VoIP users.

Someone asked: "Shouldn't they already be offering this for free as part of the DSL service?" Well we're never going to change history, and the telcos have a lot of pricing precedent for charging for premium access through their nets, so I think that is just one wish that is unrealistic at this point.
aswath 12/4/2012 | 11:25:33 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services Sorry I forgot to turn off the bold font...Aswath
aswath 12/4/2012 | 11:25:33 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services dbriere wrote in msg#7: I'd love for there to have been more QoS on that service whenever I placed a call. With TR-059 in place, I could have that. Would I pay $10 extra a month to be able to have QoS through the access network, I think so definitely.

We need to maintain QoS end-to-end, we need QoS in the backbone and the far-end access. If we add the costs for the other two segments, probably all you can call PSTN service may be price competitive. So why bother?

Aswath
dbriere 12/4/2012 | 11:25:33 PM
re: DSL Forum Tackles Premium Services I think that this again misses the point. If I agreed with that statement, then it would be like saying "Why deploy SS7 in a voice net, I don't call toll-free numbers."

You aren't paying for one application, you are paying for a capability that could be used differentially across many applications.

It could be priced by application, ... $2 for VoIP, $1 for VoD, etc. It could be priced by usage. It could be priced by user. The point of the $10 statement is that in a lot of the reasonable usage/takeup situations we modeled, it was not hard to get to $5-$10 incremental sales to get a 'better' access service across a number of these different variables.
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