Cedar Point Softens Up, Tries On IMS

In a move that could rejuvenate its growth prospects and position it as a key player in cable's IP future, Cedar Point Communications Inc. is introducing a completely new application platform system that supports PacketCable 2.0 and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) environments, along with updates to its flagship VoIP gear. (See Cedar Point Rolls With IMS, PacketCable 2.0.)

Cedar Point's new developments -- the SafariFusion Application Platform and two initial apps, the Residential Communication Application (RCA) and the Registration and Routing Application (RRA) -- mark a change of direction for the company, as they are software-only products that run on standard, third-party, off-the-shelf servers, and support telco as well as cable industry standards.

This new approach provides Cedar Point with fresh growth opportunities, as the company can now pitch to a broader set of potential customers and partners.

The Application Platform provides an application management, support, and development environment built around standards-based Linux, MySQL, and Java capabilities. It can support applications developed by Cedar Point, service providers, and independent third parties.

The RCA supports residential services such as traditional Class 5 voice features and newer capabilities like TV Caller ID and conforms to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 's IMS and the PacketCable 2.0 Residential SIP Telephony specifications.

The RRA, meanwhile, aims to simplify elements such as network registration, routing, service roaming, and more generally serves as a centralized IMS core. Cedar Point says the RRA combines the functionality of multiple IMS elements, including the Interrogating Call Session Control Function (I-CSCF), the Serving Call System Control Function (S-CSCF), the Home Subscriber Server (HSS), and the Breakout Gateway Control Function (BGCF). (See What's Up With IMS?)

But the RCA and RRA don't only work on top of Cedar Point's Application Platform. The vendor's VP of marketing, Jeffrey Walker, insists its applications can run on IMS cores from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS).

Cedar Point has also developed software updates for its flagship product, the SafariC3 Multimedia Switching System. The updates allow operators to support new SIP endpoints (including a new breed of devices called embedded digital voice adapters, or E-DVAs) as well as PacketCable 1.x embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs, or voice modems).

Cedar Point hopes the new products will give MSOs a migration path to PacketCable 2.0, an architecture that borrows heavily from IMS. The vendor says 42 customers serving a combined 5.5 million subs currently use the SafariC3, a product that integrates several PacketCable 1.x elements, including the softswitch and signaling gateway, into one logical device. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Charter Communications Inc. are among the vendor's large U.S. customers, while Kabel Deutschland GmbH marks Cedar Point's first Tier 1 win in Europe. (See Kabel Deutschland Rings Up Cedar Point.)

Cedar Point principal architect Paul Miller says the AP is capable of supporting third-party applications and those developed by the MSOs themselves. But the broader idea is to provide an IMS/PacketCable 2.0 platform that can deliver the same suite of services to multiple devices, including PCs, phones, and even set-top boxes.

Cedar Point offers the IMS updates for the SafariC3 today and expects SafariFusion to be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2010. A number of Cedar Point customers already have SafariFusion running in labs, according to Walker.

Relevance renewed?
Heavy Reading senior analyst Alan Breznick says Cedar Point's new standards-based applications strategy could help it recapture some of the momentum it enjoyed when MSOs were just starting to deploy basic VoIP services. Or it may just make Cedar Point a more attractive acquisition target.

"It's got to improve Cedar Point's prospects," he says of the new strategy. "This puts them back in the limelight. Or at least it should get them a better price if they end up getting sold."

Acquisition rumors have chased Cedar Point in recent years, with sources indicating it has turned down previous offers from Sonus and others. Sonus is believed to still be interested in Cedar Point, though that attitude may change if Sonus bids for and wins Nortel Networks Ltd. 's VoIP assets. (See Sonus Looking at Nortel Assets, Cedar Point.)

But Cedar Point is confident its new product play, which puts in place a system that offers apps across both wired and wireless access networks, will help it drive growth as more MSOs look to upgrade to PacketCable 2.0 and start to take advantage of SIP endpoints for business and residential services. (See TWC Revs Up 'Road Runner Mobile' in North Carolina and Cable Plays Clearwire Card.)

Walker expects IMS/PacketCable 2.0 trial activity to pick up next year, with deployments speeding up by 2011. Cedar Point has seen flat growth in recent months, but Walker is hopeful that upgrades and new business driven by the vendor's IMS strategy will produce "substantial growth" in 2010. (See Cedar Point Cuts Staff as Slowdown Bites.)

And its product timing may be right. Cedar Point is gearing up for IMS just as cable MSO and vendor activity around PacketCable 2.0 is finally heating up. (See The Slow Road to PacketCable 2.0.)

Comcast is said to have awarded a chunk of its IMS core business to Ericsson and Huawei. Two vendors -- Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) and Ubee Interactive -- recently gained CableLabs certification for their EDVAs, and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is also expected to join that mix soon.

Incognito Software Inc. , meanwhile, just introduced PC 2.0 capabilities to its provisioning platform.

Among other PC 2.0-related activity, IP Gallery , a vendor that's been off the cable radar for years, is back on it with an IMS product strategy. (See PacketCable 2.0: Back on the Front Burner, Incognito Provisions PacketCable 2.0, and IMS Player Tries North America Again.)

"The early signs are there that this creature [PacketCable 2.0] has life," Breznick says.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

For all the latest from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2009, check out CDN's SCTE show news site.

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