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Optical/IP

Kasenna Leads IPTV Alliance

Partnerships, it seems, are the key to winning a piece of the potentially enormous IPTV pie, and emerging hopeful Kasenna Inc. has found itself some useful allies to help kickstart its push into the carrier space.

The IPTV systems firm is teaming up with experienced cable TV systems vendor Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK), which brings its ATM-friendly broadband remote access server (B-RAS) to the party.

The partnership is not set to be announced publicly until February 2005 at the earliest, as Motorola is still putting Kasenna's systems, including its video and storage servers, through their paces in its test labs.

Motorola is being coy about the affair. A spokesman for the vendor says there are "no plans, as far as I'm aware, to announce such a partnership," but notes that Kasenna would not be any part of Motorola's monster video delivery systems deal with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). (See Verizon Says, 'Hello, Moto'.)

He says the only partners Motorola will take into that deal are the companies that have systems developed for cable networks, such as SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC), but that Verizon hasn't yet decided on its exact mix of video delivery technologies.

The spokesman adds that the only relationship between the two companies is that Kasenna is a member of the Motorola Telecom Access Solutions software verification program, "meaning their product is in the process of being validated for use on our xDSL IP video platform."

Net.com says it can't comment on any impending relationship with Kasenna or Motorola, but CEO Bert Whyte notes that the IPTV sector is one of the hottest markets at present.

He also says there are still many different viewpoints about how carriers should approach the whole concept of content delivery.

"It's clear from discussions we've been having in the Broadband Services Forum that there's a difference of opinion between the content people and the network people about how content should be delivered across telecom networks," says Whyte (see Broadband Services Forum Created).

Once formed, the partnership looks set to target the abundance of North American carriers that have ATM-based DSL access equipment already installed and unlikely to be replaced for some time yet. It will face competition from another multi-vendor alliance headed up by Siemens Communications Group; go-it-alone players Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI); and the likes of Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063), which have both teamed up with Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) TV business (see Siemens Gears Up for IPTV, UTStarcom Launches IP TV System, and Alcatel Unveils Open Media Suite).

Other IPTV news:

  • One of carriers already trialing the Siemens-led consortium's system, European incumbent Belgacom (Euronext: BELG), is aiming for a June 2005 launch for its commercial IPTV services, according to one of the carrier's suppliers (see Belgacom to Trial Interactive TV).

    A Belgacom spokesman confirms the service trial with 1,000 homes began last month and that commercial services are planned for next year, but says no timeframe has been announced.

  • Video server vendor BitBand and IPTV middleware player Orca Interactive Ltd. are the specialist suppliers behind Ireland's first TV-over-broadband offer at Dublin-based FTTH startup Magnet Networks Ltd. (see Irish Player Launches IPTV).

    The service provider is starting on a small scale, investing just €5 million (US$6.7 million) to start, but could plough in up to €15 million ($20 million) if demand warrants further investment in the Irish capital.

    Other IP TV headlines of note:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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