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Integra5: Part of Cisco's IPTV Vision?

Amid speculation that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) intends to build out its IPTV solution for telcos, one small Israeli service delivery platform (SDP) company, Integra5 Communications Inc. , looks as though it might figure into the equation. (See Cisco Arms for IPTV Battle.)

Integra5's software provides cable and telco video providers a platform from which to develop and deliver converged video, voice, and broadband services such as video caller ID. The software resides on servers at the headend and at the network edge, and communicates directly with both the video architecture and the softswitch (or Class 5 switch) to assemble the applications. (See Integra5 Unveils i-Inform .)

"There's no formal relationship; there’s not a reseller agreement, no OEM agreement," says Cisco spokesman Wilson Craig of his company's relationship with Integra5. "They have been part of some of our demos," Craig says.

Integra5 originally had a relationship with Scientific-Atlanta Inc. , which was acquired by Cisco earlier this year. (See Cisco to Acquire Scientific-Atlanta.) Since then, Intregra5 has been featured in both SA's and Cisco's connected home demonstrations.

Click here to watch Cisco CEO John Chambers demo the software at TelecomNEXT '06.

Integra5 CEO Meredith Flynn-Ripley says her company has some announcements coming up regarding its relationship with Cisco, but wouldn't disclose details.

"We are uniquely focused on delivering converged applications that blur the lines between what was a phone service, a video service, a high speed data service," Flynn-Ripley tells Light Reading.

Flynn-Ripley says the Integra5 platform allows carriers to assemble and deliver these converged applications to all devices in the household. For instance, the platform allows incoming phone calls to be displayed on the TV or PC screen. The company's video caller ID application, Flynn-Ripley says, is its most widely deployed so far. (See HR: SDPs Confuse Telcos.)

But, she says, specific applications will become more interesting as subscribers learn how to customize them to fit their own wants; for example, "the ability of the customer to say 'calls to my cell phone are business so I only want that to display on my office PC,' or 'calls to my daughter's cell phone will be alerted on her PC in her bedroom but because I'm a nosey mother they’re also going to come on the living room television,'" Flynn-Ripley says.

Flynn-Ripley points out that the platform can deliver such services even to non-SIP, legacy set-top boxes.

Cisco has been rumored to be in the market for an IPTV middleware platform but, as middleware maker Orca's marketing VP Yosi Glick explains, a product like Integra5 won't play that central role. That's because while service delivery platforms like Integra5's compliment IPTV middleware, they do very few of the same things.

IPTV middleware, Glick says, acts as an integration portal that ties together and orchestrates the interplay of the various network elements in the IPTV distribution chain. These elements include everything from the video encoders to the digital rights management (DRM) system to the software on the set-top boxes.

A service delivery platform, on the other hand, provides a common platform for the delivery of all applications – video-related and otherwise – to a variety of end devices, Flynn-Ripley says. The SDP is also tightly integrated with the carrier policy servers and billing systems. (See IMS, SDP Revolutionize OSS.)

So an attempt by Cisco to morph the Integra5 product into a middleware platform, Glick says, would require a huge amount of development resources.

Integra5's flavor of SDP still isn't well-known in IPTV circles. Flynn-Ripley says her company signed its first customer in 2004 and now has 11 announced customers as well as some unannounced “paid trials.” Most of those customers are cable MSOs, although Integra5 has a few telco customers -- smaller independent carriers in the Southeastern U.S., Flynn-Ripley says.

"We don’t see them anywhere," Orca's Glick says. "We don’t see them at any of our customers; we are not aware of them in the IPTV space."

Integra5, which is private and VC-backed, originally launched in 2000.

The origin of Integra5's name, and the reason for its resemblance to a multivitamin, wasn't immediately clear.

— Mark Sullivan, Integ-Reporter, Light Reading

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