Venice Awash With Triple Play

VENICE -- Broadband World Forum Europe -- It's official: Triple Play is the new drug. Spending a couple of days at the Broadband World Forum Europe 2004 in Venice this week, as about 3,000 delegates and exhibitors did, would have convinced anyone that this industry is obsessed with providing voice, video, and data over a single broadband connection.

Getting service providers hooked doesn't seem to be a problem, as all manner of European operators, including France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE), Telefònica SA, Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), e.Biscom SpA (Italy: EBI), and Tiscali, stepped up to the podium at the Palazzo del Cinema and talked about the exciting possibilities afforded by pumping video and TV content across broadband infrastructures.

And the 80 or so exhibitors here have been more than happy to fuel the carriers' enthusiasm with a gondola full of presentations, including graphs from predictive analyst groups such as The Yankee Group showing how much additional revenue per user carriers could generate from multimedia service bundles.

But as has been previously noted, making money from triple play is not a given (see Video Profits on Pause? and Analysys: TV Biz Looks Risky).

And there was even a hint of caution from Brian McFadden, president of Optical Networks and soon to be CTO at Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), about how the industry should be approaching the concept. He told the Venice conference, "I don't hear consumers talking about triple play." They just want to know when they can do things like play real-time interactive games, he contends.

Other snippets of note here at the event:

  • Actelis Networks Inc. was in town to talk about its Ethernet in the First Mile Alliance (EFMA) standards-based Ethernet-over-copper solution and announce some distribution deals (see Actelis Signs Distributors and Actelis Blazes Ethernet Access Trail).

    Actelis VP of marketing Yossi Saad says that, in addition to the ISP customers already announced, Actelis has snared a contract with an RBOC and the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence.

    He also says his company is in partnership talks with some of the larger vendors that have short-reach EFM solutions, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). Actelis has a marketing partnership with FTTH system vendor NEC America Inc. that is proving productive, adds Saad.

    Unfortunately for the marketing man, he was trying to make his presentation as the jackhammers and drills of stand constructors burst sporadically into life in the Casino building that housed the exhibition. "This is a great venue," he says, "but not for this event." Saad won't be the only exhibitor glad to hear that next year's European event will be held in Madrid.

  • Caspian Networks Inc. CEO Brad Wurtz was arm in arm with CacheLogic Ltd. CTO Andrew Parker, talking about their new partnership (see Caspian Adds P2P Punch). Wurtz claims the duo have already set up some trials, including one with a "very large Asian carrier" and one with a large corporation that wants to control traffic on its global internal network.

    Wurtz adds that some of those trials involve the yet-to-be-released A50, the half-sized 50-Gbit/s version of Caspian's Apeiro flow-based router. No news yet on when that's being publicly unveiled.

    So what do these guys think of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) planned acquisition of CacheLogic competitor P-Cube Inc.? (See Cisco Reroutes Traffic Management.) Parker reckons that move is all about Cisco wanting deep packet inspection expertise rather than P2P traffic management. "Cisco wants carriers to buy more routers to deal with bandwidth issues," he suggests.

  • Chinese vendor ZTE Corp. announced the extension of the DSL equipment deal it struck for the Olympic Games and was showing off a TV-over-DSL demonstration at its stand (see ZTE Lands OTE DSL Deal and ZTE Will Unveil IP TV in Venice). Its main partner for that solution is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which is causing quite a storm in the video content delivery world at present (see Video Smokes in Amsterdam).

    Other news announcements of note at the show:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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