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Test & Measurement

Triple Play Fires Up Test Sector

The emergence of triple-play services is having an impact on the test and measurement sector, with a number of companies announcing new products and customer wins in recent days.

The most notable is the news from Irish specialist Shenick Network Systems Ltd. , which announced Tuesday it is supplying T-Com , the domestic fixed-line operating division of German giant Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), with a number of its diversifEye platforms to be used in multiple labs around Germany. (See T-Com Tests With Shenick.)

T-Com is using the four-slot diversifEye 8400 product in a number of test labs around Germany to stress-test VOIP, video, and broadband equipment to ensure it's up to the task of delivering a triple-play package. The Shenick platform does this by simulating multiple end users that are simultaneously requesting and using video, voice, and data services (See Shenick Adds IPTV Enhancements.)

The news comes as T-Com announces the official launch of its triple-play service, T-Home, which includes IPTV services based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s technology, high-speed broadband, and VOIP services. (See Microsoft Wins IPTV Deal at DT.)

The German carrier has been investing heavily in building out a new access network in Germany's 10 main cities to enable it to provide bandwidth-hungry service packages, though it is facing some regulatory intervention. (See Alcatel, ECI Land DT Gig, DT Flings Billions at Fiber Access, and Achtung! Regulators Force DT to Share.)

Without carriers such as DT developing such triple-play packages, Shenick would be sunk, as it has bet the company on the takeup of the diversifEye platform, which also comes in a two-slot version. But it has hit a sweet spot with some of telecom's biggest players, having picked up deals with the likes of Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: CHT), Orange (NYSE: FTE), KT Corp. , NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), as well as vendors such as Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Redback Networks Inc. , says Shenick founder and chief marketing officer Robert Winters. (See Redback Tests With Shenick and Lucent Selects Shenick Ethernet Testers.)

Winters says the company had just one customer in 2003 and now has more than 70 and is heading towards profitability in 2007. The vendor has about $10 million worth of backing from VCs including Innovacom . (See Innovacom Leads New Shenick Investment.)

So who is Shenick up against for these deals? Its competitors are "the traditional lab-based players –- Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA), Spirent Communications ," says Winters. Agilent, as it happens, had IPTV test news of its own today. (See Agilent's N2X Tests IPTV.)

And what about other triple-play specialists? "Lab-based testing isn't an area that's really attracted specialist startups. The newcomers have been in the network monitoring space -- Brix Networks Inc. , IneoQuest Technologies Inc. , and QoSmetrics Inc. , for example," says Winters. Ineoquest, though, has already moved into the router test space. (See IneoQuest Stresses Video Switches, Moto, Juniper Target MSOs, and Brix Launches Triple Test for Triple Play.)

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