Former Excite@Home Canada president Michael Foley was named CEO of Alopa Networks Inc., a fledgling high-speed Internet access provisioning company that hopes to capitalize on expected MSO rollouts of tiered services and multiple Internet-service providers — not to mention the troubles faced by Excite@Home Corp. affiliates.
"Provisioning is at the core of all these new services," said Foley, who ticked off a list of issues MSOs will confront in the years ahead: the ability to offer multiple services, classes, devices and ISPs.
Alopa's end-to-end provisioning solution is built around a core provisioning engine. The technology then creates discrete interfaces for various hardware components in the network, such as cable modem termination systems, modems and even set-top boxes, as well as various levels of tiered services.
Alopa provides MSOs "a palette of tools" with drag-and-drop icons connected to software programs and create services, Foley said.
Alopa was founded in 1999 by a group of information-technology engineers from India, Foley said. Its chairman, Prakash Bhalerao, pursued a broadband provisioning vision and generated venture-capital funding.
Foley joined as a technical adviser earlier this year, with an eye toward running the company once its product had been fully developed. He said Alopa plans to announce its first cable client "shortly."
Alopa also operates in the fixed-wireless space, and has eight WorldCom Inc. markets up and running today. But Foley plans to stay away from DSL.
"You need diskettes, a shaman and holy water" to make DSL work, he said.
It costs $250 to $300 in equipment — plus marketing costs — to launch one IP subscriber, Foley said. He believes that operators can't make much money with that business model.
To solve that dilemma, operators should make the broadband plant more cost effective and branch out into other revenue, such as IP telephony and gaming, he said.
Current MSO operating support systems are a hodge-podge of segments that will be overburdened in a multiple-tiered service, multiple ISP world, Foley said.
"Using collages of infrastructure won't work anymore," he said.
Foley said Alopa will be able to keep its cost base low because much of its design work is done in Bangalore, India, "where it costs me less to operate my business."
It costs just $75,000 per month to employ 50 engineers in India, he said.
Alopa could build a company-wide provision system for an MSO to use for just $10 million, compared with the $20 million AT&T Broadband spent on its Boulder, Colo., multiple-ISP trial.
MSOs pay Alopa as they add each new IP subscriber, Foley said. The company also is working on software for systems with as few as 1,000 subscribers.
Foley said he understands that changing out an OSS can be a risky proposition for cable operators. But he hopes to prove, through time, he's got a product with staying power that MSOs will need.