Maintaining service consistency

But whether CenturyLink is delivering OTT video or IPTV, the ILEC will continually have to test how its current and soon to be acquired networks from Qwest will be able to deliver a consistent service experience for users.
The last mile network, while a key asset to the ILEC, is only one piece of ensuring that the combined CenturyLink/Qwest will be able ensure QoS for its video service over Qwest's existing FTTN network.

Not wanting his customers to be the test bed, there are always issues when using its network to deliver video, Huber maintains that there are various pieces the system that need to work together.

"It's not just the Fiber to the Node network, but also the metro optical network," Huber said. "There are a lot of parts that are involved from taking it from the head end to the house."

That's not to say that the last mile network isn't important. Because the IPTV service is running over existing copper plant that, depending on a specific market, has varying conditions.

Although users won't notice if it takes a couple of tries for an e-mail packet to reach its recipient, customers are obviously less forgiving if their video service becomes degraded by some unknown issue on the copper wires delivering the service to the home.

"Higher speeds are one thing for data, but when you talk about video it is much more sensitive to plant conditions than data," Huber said. "When you're just transmitting data, you can do a send, bail and send again and no one knows it, but video is much more sensitive to any plant conditions."

As CenturyLink rolls out IPTV, the ILEC has to ensure the plant in that particular area's plant is "groomed" to handle video service-even in areas where it will leverage its higher speed 25 Mbps copper-based services as a foundation for IPTV and other real-time services.

This process means that that CenturyLink not only has to eliminate old telephone standard bridge taps and coils, but also rectifying issues with plant that has high amounts of crosstalk, which can cause noticeable viewing issues.

"Just because we offer the 25 Mbps service in places like Kalispell, MT, we'll have to groom that plant before we offer video," Huber said.

Maintaining service consistency