Los Angeles -- Turnkey cable-modem system providers at the
Western Show outlined their plans for expanding services and speeding deployments -- key
factors for competing with rivals such as digital-subscriber-line services.
High Speed Access Corp. announced it would launch field
trials of Internet-protocol telephony via cable modem at several Charter Communications
Inc. systems in Georgia.
Englewood, Colo.-based HSA also disclosed its strategies
for using alternative access platforms such as Ka-band satellites and wireless
local-multipoint-distribution systems for providing high-speed Internet access to markets
too small to be economically viable for cable headends.
Separately, SoftNet Systems Inc.'s ISP Channel announced
that it had launched its new tiered service plans in two markets. The service offers
varying upstream and downstream data rates; ISP Channel plans to roll it out in most of
its cable-affiliate markets.
ISP Channel also said it started deploying Cisco Systems
Inc.'s Cisco Subscriber Registration Center (CSRC), which enables self-provisioning and
activation for new cable-modem subscribers.
Dan O'Brien, president of the Englewood, Colo.-based HSAC,
told a Western Show press conference that Cisco Systems Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc.
are the vendors for the IP-telephony trials. He said he is satisfied with the technology's
performance so far.
"That doesn't mean it's ready for commercial
deployment," O'Brien said. "The back-office stuff still needs work."
Eventually, HSAC wants to offer other new services such as
video conferencing; commercial digital-subscriber-line service over phone lines; and
monitoring services such as burglar alarms and child monitoring.
HSA also is exploring Internet-over-television service,
with plans to test a cable-connected Internet set-top from Ravisent Technologies Inc.'s
Teknema unit as one early offering. O'Brien said. HSA is developing its
Internet-television content and applications, mainly in the context of its previously
announced Broadband Partners Ltd. partnership with Charter, broadband overbuilder RCN
Corp. and Vulcan Ventures Inc.
But an interim step could be an offering of bare-bones
online connectivity and services such as electronic mail through the simple, relatively
cheap Teknema box, which also might serve as the bottom tier of an online TV lineup,
ISP Channel said it was the first high-speed ISP to deploy
the Cisco self-provisioning system in a production network.
The CSRC, which Cisco unveiled at the National Show, is an
end-to-end system which enables the provisioning, service activation and configuration and
management of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) modems and cable
Self-provisioning is considered an important element in
speeding cable-modem deployments and cutting operator costs by significantly reducing or
eliminating the need for truck rolls and making cable modems a more retail-ready product.
ISP Channel launched the CSRC and tiered service on its
Cedar Communications system in Arlington, Wash., and Satellite Cable Services system in
The tiered packages offer standard service with downstream
data rates of up to 500 kilobits per second and upstream rates up to 100 kbps; a premium
service with 1 megabit per second downstream and 200 kbps upstream; and "premium
plus" service with 1.5 mbps downstream and 300 kbps upstream.