2007 Top Ten: Technologies to Watch
10. GPON and WDM PON
Carriers are already starting to look beyond GPON to WDM PON. Neither will be deployed in a large scale next year, but the pursuit of both will have a significant impact on the kinds of services that start to capture attention. That said, BPON works well enough for some carriers, so we expect the GPON rollouts to be slow and WDM PON rollouts to be a novelty. Still, the influence those technologies have on services that startups begin to build will be huge. (See BroadLight Boss Can't Wait for GPON, Verizon: HD VOD Is Coming, and Verizon Spells Out 100 Mbit/s.)
9. Docsis 3.0
2008 just may be the year we finally see cable's answer to fiber-to-the-home, Docsis 3.0, show up in real live networks. (See Vendors Ride First Docsis 3.0 Wave and No Docsis 3.0 Breakthroughs… Yet.) And not a moment too soon, either. Investors are starting to fear that the telcos can't be caught by cable in the bandwidth race. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), the largest cable operator in the U.S., has seen its stock fall more than 35 percent this year alone.
8. Cable Bandwidth Tools
As customers demand more and more HD content, cable MSOs are coming up with creative ways to squeeze as much bandwidth as possible out of their networks. Some of these methods include switched digital video, node splits, and advanced compression techniques.
These technologies will also be of interest to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). Ma Bell has been criticized for going with a slower FTTN (fiber to the node) architecture for its new U-verse service that supposedly won't be able to handle future bandwidth demands. But AT&T has been maintaining all along that bandwidth tools such as encoding and compression will help it meet whatever demands get thrown its way. (See AT&T Shows Off IPTV Tricks.)
What we used to call video conferencing is getting a fresh coat of paint thanks to more reliable IP connections and better video technology. Teliris Ltd. , way back in the 90s, first started deploying the technology that is supposed to make people thousand of miles away feel as if they're in the same room as you. This year, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Nortel Networks Ltd. have come up with their own telepresence kits as well. These setups are costly, but we're getting closer to that feeling of being on the deck of the Enterprise in Star Trek.
6. WiMax Devices
The initial deployments of WiMax handsets will be something worth watching, but so will the costs of these devices. (See The $1500 WiMax Handset?) With the first generation of WiMax mobile phones set to hit the U.S. in 2008, some analysts are predicting that certain models could cost as much as $1,500. That's not cheap, but if the technology truly works, demand could hit its stride late in '08.
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