RiverDelta Puts Access Onto Insight's Agenda

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The ability to offer access to multiple Internet-service providers is one of several advanced applications Insight Communications Co. will explore after it deploys RiverDelta Networks Inc.'s next-generation routing chassis in its Lexington, Ky. system.

Insight last week said it would install RiverDelta's Broadband Service Router 64000 in Lexington as part of an effort to offer virtual private network and tiered high-speed-data services to residential and business customers.

Though the vendor's equipment has been delivered, it won't go live for another four to six weeks, RiverDelta vice president of marketing Jeffrey Walker said.

Insight — the No. 8 domestic MSO, with about 1.4 million subscribers — said it would initially use RiverDelta's gear to offer high-speed virtual private network services to commercial businesses and area universities.

Tiered services would come online in the second quarter of this year, the MSO said.

By incorporating tiered services and guaranteed bandwidth levels, Insight's customers would have "equal and fair access to bandwidth," Walker said. It would also ensure that a heavy user of Napster Inc.'s music file-sharing service wouldn't wreak havoc on the operator's roster of residential and business subscribers.

Insight plans to "eventually" give open access a trial run, said MSO senior vice president of engineering Charlie Dietz.

"Right now, we're just taking the first step, trying to get multiple services on a single CMTS (cable-modem termination system)," he added. "If we're able to do that with VPNs, there is no reason we wouldn't be able to continue and open it to other ISPs as well. But we want to walk a little bit before we start to run."

Though Insight plans to install just one BSR 64000 in Lexington, that lonely box will pack quite a wallop. Dietz said one RiverDelta chassis can handle 16 individual downstreams, enough to replace about four Cisco Systems Inc. routers.

In the future, Insight "can make open access a profitable win-win opportunity for our customers, our service-provider partners and our shareholders," Insight CEO Michael Willner said in a press release.

Willner might shed more light on that subject this Wednesday, when he speaks at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers' Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando, Fla.

As for RiverDelta, it has yet to submit the BSR 64000 to Cable Television Laboratories Inc. for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 1.1 qualification testing, though the gear has already earned the 1.0 stamp of approval.

RiverDelta had submitted its smaller, pizza box-sized BSR 1000 for DOCSIS 1.1 testing.

Even with best-effort, 1.0-based cable-modem services, RiverDelta's gear uses SmartFlow, a "per-flow queuing" technique that enables users to equally share in any bandwidth available on a particular cable network, Walker said.

The Insight deal marks RiverDelta's first announced U.S. deployment. In March, Europe-based Isle of Wight Cable & Telephone cut a deal with technical integrator Teleste Corp. to install the BSR 64000 on a network that will offer a bundle of voice, video and data services to about 44,000 homes and 5,500 businesses.

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