Michael Weissman & Richard Nesin, HomePNA on driving IPTV deployments

Michael Weissman and Richard NesinWith major carriers like AT&T making large scale use out of HomePNA technology for their U-verse IPTV deployment, the technology has been attracting other providers like Bell Canada and CenturyLink that are also stepping up their IPTV service rollouts. But with the dawn of the Ethernet over Coax specification, HomePNA's advocates see an opportunity to assist service providers in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries to deliver broadband services and IPTV without having to make costly investments in upgrading their cable plant to support DOCSIS. Unlike the U.S. market, telephone plant in the BRIC countries is often poor, yet they have a great deal of cable plant that can be leveraged to deliver broadband. FierceTelecom's Sean Buckley recently sat down with Michael Weissman, President of HomePNA and Richard Nesin, General Manager of HomePNA, to talk about the growth of IPTV and its role in the emerging BRIC markets.

FierceTelecom: To start, let's talk about the state of HomePNA with large carriers like AT&T and CenturyLink leveraging the standard for their respective IPTV and broadband deployment.

Nesin: CenturyLink is an interesting example. We sold the HomePNA technology to CenturyTel, and when CenturyTel bought Embarq they extended their IPTV deployment. We got CenturyLink and now that they have acquired Qwest, I expect that we'll broaden that relationship. The only major difference between IPTV and cable is you have one major head end and you inject a little bit of local content in certain regions, but for the most part IPTV is very extendable.

FierceTelecom: In addition to large carriers like AT&T, Bell Canada, CenturyLink, I noticed there are some smaller carrier members like EATEL. Do you see growing interest from smaller independent carriers and what are they looking for: simpler installation?

Nesin: First of all, we have a huge following because of AT&T, which pioneered large installations of HomePNA. The telco business has long coattails. Because it was true IPTV, we developed a lot of certified products on the website so there was a good assortment of equipment from 20 or so different vendors available, whereas the other guys were really supporting a cable MSO in telco clothes. Verizon was basically deploying MSO technology even though they were a telco. There's a good deal of knowledge out there and we turned HomePNA into an organization to disseminate that knowledge and support telcos and their deployments.

FierceTelecom: Would it be safe to say that AT&T has been a catalyst service provider to drive the use of HomePNA in the home networks?

Nesin: AT&T kind of broke the ground for us and helped to create a pool of certified products. They also provided a lot of confidence in the other telephone companies to use HomePNA.

FierceTelecom: You recently released your new standard targeting international cable companies' MDU deployments. Can you talk about that new specification and how it will be implemented?

Nesin: One of the acronyms I have heard for where we are targeting Ethernet over Coax is called 'Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).' Up till now the infrastructure in these areas has been really bad. There's also a half dozen service providers in Latin America. In India, you don't have that many high quality phone lines so people are looking for Ethernet over Coax. You probably have like 90 million coax lines in India. The infrastructure is there, so what are their options? Their option is DOCSIS or some other technology. DOCSIS is much more expensive than HomePNA based on the way the technology is designed. The market is really ripe for something like the HomePNA MDU technology. 

FierceTelecom: Basically, the new specification is really targeting emerging international cable operators?

Weissman: In many countries, especially the BRIC countries, service providers are constrained by very poor telephone infrastructure. They are very capital markets and DOCSIS technology isn't economical because the CMTS equipment is very expensive. In places like in Brazil a lot of the cable plant infrastructure still operates 450-600 MHz. To do DOCSIS, the whole cable plant would need to be upgraded, meaning you would have to upgrade every amplifier. With HomePNA's Ethernet over Coax specification, you would get a diplexer and you would deliver broadband connectivity.

FierceTelecom: What advantage does the Ethernet over Coax specification have in an MDU environment over other technologies like MoCA?

Weissman: In MDUs, Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) is not a good technology. The reason is high frequencies tend to be shorter distances and lower frequencies tend to go longer distance. MoCA is a high frequency RF technology and so it has short distances. In an MDU environment it is a suboptimal technology. The baseband technologies are better.

In addition to the BRIC countries, I think you'll also see HomePNA in Africa. We can get you up and running for dollars per end point. It is not like you have to spend a hundred thousand dollars for a CMTS. Instead, you can spend $100 with a master that supports a hundred subscribers or so. What happens is because you don't have to buy infrastructure that supports 2,000 or 5,000 people, you can buy something that can break even with 5, 10 or 20 users. You can roll it out more linearly--that's the key difference.

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Michael Weissman & Richard Nesin, HomePNA on driving IPTV deployments