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The International Engineering Consortium (IEC) provides online tutorials on their web site (also in .pdf and paper) on telecommunications subjects and new product and service areas (eg. cable modems, ATM, billing).
This is a brief report for the Information Engineering community on the 8th Joint European Networking Conference conference, Edinburgh, May 1997. The conference is organised annually by TERENA, and serves the European academic and research network services community. This report concentrates on two major themes which I felt were the most important issues to emerge from the conference.
An issue of great interest to the IE community is charging policies for open networks. There was one session specifically on this issue, with speakers from Telescom AG (a small Swiss consulting firm), Belgecom (Belgian PTT), and Alcatel. Speakers in other sessions also discussed the issue.
Two perspectives on the issue were apparent at the conference.
From the Internet point of view, there is a clear perception that different levels of service will need to be charged for differently. At present we have the "McDonalds" model, where everyone gets the same level of service. The future may be the "FedEx" model, where you pay more to get your packets delivered more quickly and reliably.
The basis for a differential-services Internet is likely to be the work on RSVP, RTP and associated protocols which support guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) data flows. The Internet 2 project will pioneer this technology in combination with IPv6, and is hoping to implement a true differential services network with reproducible QoS by the end of 1998. However, much work on mechanisms for charging needs to be done. While "islands" of reservable QoS may exist in the medium term (eg. in campus networks), implementation in the Internet in general depends on robust charging and security mechanisms and will be much later. There is no incentive for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to provide guaranteed QoS unless he can charge for it.
I understand there are already prioritized services appearing on the Internet - apparently one ISP offers their customers preferential prioritized support through IPv4 mechanisms. This naturally is not end-to-end except between those of the ISP's customers who subscribe to the service. The charging model for this service is not known.
From a telco point of view, the Internet can be viewed as just another service which they can provide. (This (European?) vision appears at first sight to be at variance with the (US?) concept of the "IP Dialtone".) They are interested in differential services at Layer 2 (Data Link) of the OSI model rather than Layer 3 (IP). On ATM for instance they might offer constant bit rate (CBR), variable (VBR), available (ABR) and undefined bit rate (UBR) services which would be charged differently and would be appropriate for different applications (eg. videoconferencing would use CBR). (Other QoS parameters such as jitter and delay are also important, and will affect tariffs.)
Routing mechanisms which can be used to map Layer 3 flows onto Layer 2 flows (such as Cisco's "tag switching" technology) are under development. However there is still a great deal of R&D to be done on how charging would work in such situations.
The impression I was left with was that Internet access using "best efforts" services will continue to be charged at a flat rate, independent of data volume; while the projected more reliable, reproducible and higher-speed flows will be charged according to usage and QoS level, possibly to the detriment of the service experienced by the flat-rate users.
As well as a keynote speech by Phil Zimmerman (PGP Inc) there were several sessions on cryptography, its applications and its regulation.
Zimmerman argued strongly the civil liberties case for freedom from regulation. Networking erodes privacy - the technology is carrying us towards a surveillance society. Cryptography restores privacy, which is crucial in a free (information) society. He gave examples of how cryptography has been used to protect information on human rights abuses in China and war crimes in Bosnia - a PGP user was jailed and beaten up in Bosnia for not revealing his PGP pass phrase to the authorities.
The anti-crime case for cryptographic regulation is weakened because strong cryptographic software is not difficult to write, and is indeed already widely available. Government access to keys (GAK) - eg. associated with a key distribution infrastructure - does not prevent criminals from illegally using strong cryptography without disclosing their private keys. Furthermore, national GAK is insufficient to deal with international criminal communications, and many national governments do not trust each other enough to implement international GAK.
In the US, the NSA appears to be giving up the fight against the proliferation of strong cryptography - they have many good cryptographers who can see that "the genie is out of the bottle". The FBI, with fewer (less influential) cryptographers is however still lobbying strongly for GAK.
The OECD has recently released forward-looking guidelines on cryptographic policy for governments. Although there is a wide range of differing national attitudes on the issues, it emerged during the formulation of the guidelines that (very roughly speaking) the US public are concerned about protecting privacy against government intrusion, while Europeans are more concerned with protecting individual privacy against intrusion by commercial interests.
It should not be forgotten that cryptography is not just about privacy. Many of the applications-oriented papers revolved around the use of cryptography to support authentication, code signing, and commercial transactions.
- "The Internet is the fourth utility [after water, electricity, telephone]" - Dave Probert, Digital Europe.
- "If a picture is worth 1000 words, a moving picture is worth 100,000 words, and a virtual environment is worth 100,000,000 words" - Michael Staman, CICnet Inc.
- "Major users want a simple, scalable, differential services Internet with reproducible performance and excellent fault resolution" - Brian Carpenter (chair, Internet Architecture Board), IBM UK.
- "University networking is pushing the frontiers of networking services" - Guy Almes, Chief Engineer, Internet 2 Project.
- "Cryptography is about the power relationship between a government and its people" - Phil Zimmerman, PGP Inc.
A guideline to explain why and how IP and ATM will coexist and to propose strategies to reduce the complexity resulting from their coexistence is being developed within ACTS. Reference in the guideline has been made to the Integrated Service Internet (ISI, RFC1633) in which the IP "packet flow" is the central concept. A new IETF working group has also been formed to define a differential service model with the aim of substituting traffic priorities to resource reservation.
The ACTS guideline is intended for business strategists and end users and considers basic scenarios and their combinations to establish a list of questions associated with each of them. A dedicated web site has been established to gather contributions and comments.
Research from the analyst company Ovum, suggests that IP will become the dominant protocol in enterprise networks and carrier core networks which are being built using ATM. Ovum predicts that both IP and ATM will have an important role to play in a complex broadband networking future. The imminent emergence of MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching), will enable the combination of IP and ATM, and provide a stepping stone for the future. According to the report, entitled: "IP, ATM and MPLS: Strategies for Broadband Networking", MPLS, which can link the IP layer with the ATM layer and consequently provide a bridge between IP and ATM, provides a number of benefits including:
- aid in solving problems associated with the Internet, including the lack of quality mechanisms, slow speed and poor security;
- supported by many of the key industry players, providing an elegant way of combining IP & ATM;
- by using MPLS, IP traffic flows can exploit the ATM service level mechanisms;
- used for traffic engineering to improve the transmission efficiency of IP networks and to support encryption and tunnelling for improved security.
According to the report's author: "The usage of IP will overtake all other protocols around 2003 and will grow steadily , whilst current broadband services such as frame relay, B-ISDN and digital leased circuits, will level off and begin to decline". The full report is available for UK pounds 995, purchasing details on the web.
In a new research report entitled, "European Broadband Takes Off", Forrester predict that there will be 27 million broadband subscribers by 2005. ADSL will win market share over cable and there will be a major drop in access charges.
The report says that, "Content will be the main driver for mass-market broadband penetration starting in 2003". Scandinavia will lead penetration rates, as they did with slow-speed Internet access, reaching between 36% and 40% by 2005, followed by Netherlands with 28%, Germany 25%, UK 20% and France 11%.
See also the recent El.pub Analytic article for more information on broadband futures. 10/08/00
URL: El.pub Analytic analytic.htm
Ernst & Young have published a new report which considers the likely impact of IP technology for telecommunications companies. Entitled: "Survival in The Connected Society, Why IP Spells Total Transformation For Telcos", the paper documents the total business transformation necessary for communications companies as they embrace the open systems movement and prepare for a complete overhaul of infrastructure systems to capture or retain the higher value customer in the connected society.
While the initial impact of IP networks will be to dramatically reduce pricing models, the most important long term effect will be the requirement for communications carriers to have a new strategic business model to handle the customer within an open systems environment.
Supporting research referenced in the paper also demonstrates the expected rapid growth of IP-based basic services such as voice and fax reaching US$ 30 billion over the next five years. In addition, data from the report suggests that voice communications, which today still provide some 70-80 percent of the traditional carriers' revenues, could essentially be a free service in the coming five years on the back of exploding data volumes.
A web page on ATM, telecomms and multimedia which provides links to resources (including white papers and tutorials), standards information, and vendors and product information. Subjects covered include: ATM, TCP/IP, MPEG2. 18/02/00
In March 1997 the ITU published it's annual market analysis on the World Trade in Telecommunications an Executive Summary is available on the web. The report examines the significance of the convergence of the telecoms, computer and broadcasting worlds and offers insights into recent decisions taken at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on market liberalization.
Interested in developing an infrastructure for providing integrated broadcasting and telecommunications services, partners of the ACTS supported Multimedia Environment for MObiles (MEMO) project have founded the m4m forum. The activities of the forum will be organised under three different activities, concentrating on: services, terminals and applications, system specification and architecture, promotion and regulations.
The key concept behind the m4m system architecture is the reuse of existing technology to achieve new data services. The m4m network architecture is essentially an overlay network to a digital broadcast network (eg. DAB, DVB) in combination with a wireless communication network like GSM. It provides three main services:
- Object Broadcasting - a one way transmission of objects eg., HTML files to mobile terminals.
- Interactive Object Broadcasting - adding the possibility to respond to the Object Broadcasting using the wireless communication network (GSM).
- Personal Services - a two way transparent TCP/IP service that can be seen as an access network to Internet or an Intranet using standard Internet technologies.
The current open m4m specification is available from the web site below, and the Forum is open to new members.
URL: m4m Forum http://memo.lboro.ac.uk/m4mforum/start.html
The ITU has a series of Recommendations aimed at standardising technologies for the emerging Global Information Infrastructure. The ITU hopes to establish global compatibility between technologies being implemented by individual nations for high-speed information infrastructures.
ITU-T Series "Y" Recommendations, are the result of a meeting of Study Group 13 of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Sector, held in Toronto, Canada from 8-19 September 1997. Draft Recommendations agreed at the meeting and put forward for formal adoption are:
- Y.100 - a general descriptive overview of the GII;
- Y.110 - describing the basic principles and concepts for the GII architecture;
- Y.120 - describing methodologies and scenarios which may be used for developing the GII.
A Recommendation concerning terms and definitions to be used in the context of the GII is expected shortly.
URL: ITU http://www.itu.int
URL: Recommendations Overview http://www.itu.int/PPI/press/releases/1997/np-08.html
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has approved further enhancements of the TETRA standard to position TETRA in the 3G market place. TETRA Release 2 will offer new features such as new multimedia services, high-speed data rates, 3G compatibility and roaming.
TETRA (TErrestrial TRunked Radio) is the ETSI standard designed for a new generation of digital land mobile radio communications. It combines the unique aspects of Private Mobile Radio (PMR) and Public Access Mobile Radio (PAMR) with those of public wireless telephony (cellular) and public packet-data services, which allows "one terminal device to meet all the communication needs of mobile workers like public safety, military and other professional users". 26/09/00
The IMT-2000 radio interface specifications, (see details below), were formally adopted at the ITU Radiocommunication Assembly meeting in Istanbul from May 1-5, 2000. Implementation of the specifications holds out the promise that consumers all over the world will be able to access, on a single handset, a range of high bandwidth wireless services providing personal or business information.
Japan is expected to be the first country in the world to deploy IMT-2000 services "sometime next year". The ITU reports that the next critical area that must be resolved is global spectrum availability, particularly in view of the expected demand for mobile multimedia services worldwide. 12/05/00
The world's telecommunications standards organizations from Europe (ETSI), Japan (TTC), Korea (TTA) and North America (T1, TIA) have agreed to join forces towards the goal of achieving global roaming for users anywhere anytime within the framework of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards.
International Mobile Telecommunication 2000 (IMT-2000) is an ITU initiative which aims to integrate the various satellite, terrestrial, fixed and mobile systems currently being deployed and developed under an "umbrella standard" or concept of "family of systems". This concept aims at facilitating the evolution from today's regional 2nd generation systems that are incompatible with one another towards 3rd generation systems that will provide users with genuine global service capabilities and interoperability soon after the year 2000.
The press release accompanying the announcement claims that:
"Under the 3rd generation systems, users will not only be able to roam among countries which currently use different technologies but will also be capable of seamlessly moving between multiple networks fixed and mobile, cordless and cellular. As a result, product life cycle for core network and transmission components should be longer and network operators, service providers and manufacturers should benefit from the increased flexibility and cost effectiveness."
Further information on the International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000) initiative is published on the web. The site includes: general information, IMT-2000 documents, information on the radio development process and details of the standards and standardisation efforts.
As the ITU gears up to deliver standards to support seamless global roaming across networks: six network-related standards have recently been agreed. The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector, is developing IMT-2000 network-related standards in areas such as services, functional architectures, signalling, protocols, management, security and performance.
These standards aim at facilitating global roaming and at ensuring seamless service delivery via the various fixed and mobile networks around the world. They are also needed to support a broad range of services (voice, packet data and multimedia), and provide an efficient, yet flexible, network infrastructure to accommodate diverse radio environments (indoor, urban, suburban, rural and satellite) under any of the five IMT-2000 radio interfaces agreed during November 1999 in Helsinki (see figure on the web).
The announcement marks a major step forward in the definition of the full IMT-2000 standards package which the industry requires to deploy IMT-2000 compliant 3G networks and start offering services to their customers.
URL: figure http://www.itu.int/newsroom/press/releases/1999/99-24.html
URL: press release http://www.itu.int/newsroom/
ARIB, ETSI, T1, TTA and TTC (the "Organizational Partners") have agreed to cooperate on the production of Technical Specifications for a 3rd Generation Mobile System based on GSM core networks and the radio access technologies that the Organizational Partners support. Member companies of the "Organizational Partners" are being requested to participate in project.
The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) consists of six Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and three Market Representation Partners (MRPs) from around the globe. It's primary aim is to act as a focus for standardisation, thus reducing the cost and avoiding duplication of work, resulting in single set of standards for use throughout the world. Under the 3GPP agreement each SDO agrees to publish these standards following their approval process. In Europe, these will be published by ETSI as UMTS standards.
The six Standards Development Organizations are:
- The Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB), Japan has about 300 members including both Japanese firms and overseas firms.
- China Wireless Telecommunication Standard (CWTS) is the Standard Development Organisation (SDO) responsible for wireless standardisation in China.
- ETSI unites nearly 700 members from 50 countries, playing a major role in developing a wide range of standards and other technical documentation as Europe's contribution to world-wide standardisation in telecommunications and information technology.
- CommiteeT1 develops standards and technical reports related to wireless and/or mobile services and systems, including service descriptions and wireless technologies. This committee develops and recommends positions on related subjects under consideration in other North American, regional and international standards bodies.
- TTA is the SDO authorised by the Ministry of Information and Communication for standardisation activities in Korea and represents 150 members.
- TTC, Japan contributes to standardisation in the field of telecommunications by establishing protocols and standards for connection between telecommunications networks, terminal equipment and a telecommunications network. It has 160 members.
The three Market Representations Partners are:
- The GSM Association represents 347 members which is comprised of GSM Network Operators and Regulators with more than 165 million GSM subscribers in 133 countries world-wide.
- The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has a cross industry representation worldwide of GSM infrastructure, terminals, customer care, billing suppliers.
- UMTS Forum represents 182 members from over 30 countries representing operators, regulators, manufacturers, IT and contents providers.
URL: 3GPP http://www.3gpp.org
A globally harmonised third-generation CDMA standard is within reach, following the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) endorsement of an agreement recently signed by 30 of the world's largest mobile operators and 12 major manufacturers. The agreement, on 3G, addresses the requirements of both the WCDMA and cdma-2000 communities.
Many operators have long pushed for a single standard, which would facilitate roaming and help achieve economies of scale. This harmonisation maximises the scale factor benefits and also facilitates support for global terminals.
The CDMA Development Group (CDG) has released a statement endorsing ITU Task Group 8/1 approval of several CDMA standards as part of its IMT-2000 radio interface recommendation. The CDMA specifications are:
- IMT-2000 CDMA Multi-Carrier;
- IMT-2000 CDMA Direct Spread;
- IMT-2000 CDMA TDD.
A spokesman for the CDG commented, "We hope that standards development organisations worldwide embrace the ITU IMT-2000 recommendation and adopt all the standards referenced by the ITU, so we can move toward truly making it a worldwide standard."
The CDMA Development Group is a non-profit trade association formed to foster the worldwide development, implementation and use of CDMA. The 100 member companies of the CDG include many of the world's largest wireless operators and equipment manufacturers.
QUALCOMM, a developer of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) digital wireless technology, has apparently successfully demonstrated its new High Data Rate (HDR) technology that is "fully compatible with existing cdmaOne technology and capable of supplying reliable wireless Internet access to consumers".
The company reports that it expects HDR to be competitive with Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable-based solutions, and will support mobile access. Data rates of up to 1.8 Megabits per second (Mbps) in a fixed and mobile environment were demonstrated utilising a variety of terminal equipment.
The Company has also released details of the introduction of a new family of chipsets and system software that support HDR technology.
URL: QUALCOMM http://www.qualcomm.com/
The Special Study Group on IMT-2000 has adopted a roadmap for the future development of third generation network standards. The work plan provides for the adoption of standards on service capability requirements including the Virtual Home Environment by mid-2002 and completion of most of the work on network capabilities, mobility management and interoperability for global roaming between various IMT-2000 networks by the end of 2002.
Other critical aspects such as interworking with fixed voice networks, packet data networks and requirements for convergence between fixed and IMT-2000 are also set for end-2002. For further information, contact John Visser, Chairman, ITU-T Special Study Group on IMT-2000 and Beyond at Nortel Networks. 22/12/00
URL: ITU http://www.itu.int/
KSI has reported receipt of patents in both the US and Australia, covering advancements in its wireless location technology. The patents, with the title Communications Localization System (CLS), are directed toward a system which locates cellular and PCS phones and other wireless devices by using information received from a single base station within a wireless network.
The patents cover underlying technologies used in KSI's TeleSentinel wireless localisation system. The CLS technology is intended for use in situations where data may not be available from multiple cellular sites, often a characteristic of CDMA systems or systems in rural environments where single-site reception is common. Further, CLS may also be used in situations where the economics favour a single-site location solution.
URL: KSI http://www.ksix.com/
A publication entitled: "High Mobility" attempts to explain 3G wireless communications and what it will mean for the telecommunications industry and for users. The 76 page publication, available free of charge, is written for general business readers and reviews 3G developments around the world. To obtain a copy, send a request along with your address information to the email given below.
URL: "High Mobility" request mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
URL: Ericsson's Mobile Internet portal http://mobile.ericsson.se/mobileinternet
Ericsson and eight other telecom companies have announced the formation of a group to develop an architecture wholly based on Internet protocol for 3G systems. The 3G.IP focus group, announced at the recent UMTS Congress in Monte Carlo, aims to create a common evolved GPRS core network standard, which will fully support advanced IP voice telephony, data and multimedia applications.
Ericsson, IBM, Lotus, Oracle, Palm Computing and Symbian are joining forces in the GPRS Applications Alliance (GAA). The alliance is a cross-industry initiative designed to serve as a catalyst in the advancement of applications based on the new mobile packet switching technology, GPRS.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) introduces packet data to mobile networks and is a first step for GSM and TDMA operators in the evolution to 3G (third generation) mobile networks, enabling a range of new and enhanced services in a mobile environment. The alliance is "open to any organisation interested in mobile communications, such as software developers, systems integrators, network operators and other infrastructure vendors as well as device manufacturers".
The GAA plans to provide the mobile Internet applications industry easy access to a range of services, including training, product verification, consulting and other information.
URL: GAA http://www.gprsworld.com/
According to Philips Semiconductors, their GSM General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) chip-set will mean, "faster wireless transfer of data, and improve communications applications such as fax, e-mail and paging". Combined with wireless application protocol (WAP), GPRS could also lead to applications such as web browsing, MP3 and video, all via cell phone. A new dual-band RF chip-set developed by Philips Semiconductors provides the radio part of this GPRS-based solution.
In the announcement, Philips also claim that the company's next generation of chip-sets will "integrate additional features such as Bluetooth, MP3 and GPS, and will address third generation standards such as UMTS, W-CDMA, and CDMA-2000".
URL: Philips Semiconductors http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/
It is believed that within the next five years most Europeans will be using mobile communications as part of their everyday lives; for communicating with others, for accessing information services, for leisure and for education. The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) has the potential to provide the wireless access networks for the emerging information society. KPMG have published a booklet that sets out some of the issues surrounding the development of UMTS. The company has also published a survey entitled: "Preparing Europe for UMTS" which "covers the views and plans of the European telecom regulatory bodies on the roll-out of the UMTS". details from the KPMG publications page which also has links to downloadable .pdf files.
The UMTS Forum, is a non-profit making international organisation, committed, through building industry consensus, to the successful introduction and development of UMTS. The Forum's web site is a useful starting point for readers wishing to explore UMTS which, in the words of the Forum:
- is a part of the ITU's "IMT-2000" vision of a global family of "third-generation" (3G) mobile communications systems;
- will play a key role in creating the future mass market for high-quality wireless multimedia communications that will approach 2 billion users worldwide by the year 2010;
- will enable tomorrow's wireless Information Society, delivering high-value broadband information, commerce and entertainment services to mobile users via fixed, wireless and satellite networks;
- will speed convergence between telecommunications, IT, media and content industries to deliver new services and create fresh revenue-generating opportunities;
- will deliver low-cost, high-capacity mobile communications offering data rates up to 2Mbit/sec with global roaming and other advanced capabilities.
According to the Forum, commercial UMTS services are expected to be launched from 2002, licenses have already been awarded in several European territories and experimental systems are now in field trials with leading vendors worldwide. The Forum has published a series of eight, management level, reports which can be downloaded in Word format (optionally zipped) or ordered as printed documents, covering the development, licensing and technological issues related to introducing UMTS technology.
URL: UMTS Forum http://www.umts-forum.org/
URL: reports http://www.umts-forum.org/reports.html
The UMTS Development Partnership (UDP) is a consortium of leading European R&D institutes and telecommunications companies with the mission to support companies in implementing UMTS - the third generation mobile and wireless communications system.
The Multilingual Headline News reports on news concerning networking technologies research emanating from the 4th ACTS Mobile Summit held on 8-11 June, 1999 in Sorrento, Italy. Brief reports include:
- "Transparency for 4th Generation Mobile Telecommunications", which champions the cause for interoperability through simultaneous support of several radio interfaces in a single terminal.
- "Who are the future UMTS users and what do they want?", which outlines the combination of technologies required to provide mobile data services.
- "UMTS trials started - better than GSM", which reports on trials for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) that have started, and which show improvements over GSM.
A regular, free, e-zine summarising reports published on the site is also available.
The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Forum, has announced a cooperation agreement with the IPv6 Forum, the world-wide consortium of Internet industry players founded to promote IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). Objectives of the cooperation include:
- respective market representation within each others' organisations;
- identifying and building new markets for non-voice services and promotion of Ipv6;
- preparing for future IP-based Value Added Services.
URL: IPv6 Forum http://www.ipv6forum.com/
URL: UMTS Forum http://www.umts-forum.org/
In preparation for the rollout of third-generation wireless systems, France Telecom is conducting tests of services based on the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) standard. The trials will be conducted by France Telecom R&D, the Group's research center, and will provide a detailed analysis of how future services can be used.
A hundred users in a simulated urban environment will be given handheld PCs, to represent future wireless devices, to test the new types of applications made possible by UMTS technology.
The trial program will also include an interactive game, developed using MPEG-4, played from the wireless terminals. 06/07/00
URL: press releases http://www.francetelecom.com/vanglais/i/i1.html
URL: France Telecom http://www.francetelecom.com/
NARUS and Groupe Bull have formed a partnership aimed at "accelerating the European market's move towards value-added Internet services". The companies are planning to deliver the products, which will provide the infrastructure to European telecommunications companies, for services such as voice over IP (VOIP), Internet video, and application hosting.
URL: Groupe Bull http://www.bull.com/
URL: NARUS http://www.narus.com/
Omnipoint Communications has announced a wireless personal communications service of 14.4kbps. The company has demonstrated the faster connection rates on its GSM network in Syracuse, USA and is planning to make commercial services available on its network shortly. This increase in wireless data speed is viewed by the company as the next step towards General Packet Radio Service, GSM-based technology which has the potential to provide data speeds as high as 115 kbps, rivaling connection rates available on fixed-line ISDN networks.
Ericsson is developing a Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) experimental system, intended as a first step towards meeting "the demands of wireless mobile communication in a true multimedia environment". Parts of the WCDMA specification have been adopted by the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) in defining the radio interface (UTRA) for the third-generation mobile system, UMTS. Other parts of the ETSI solution draw on TD/CDMA technologies.
NEC has developed a prototype of a WCDMA mobile videophone based on a "next-generation mobile communications system", IMT-2000. The videophone is a combination of a mobile phone handset with a viewer, comprising screen, video camera and microphone. To enable wireless connection between the phone handset and the viewer screen, NEC is using Bluetooth technology.
The third-generation mobile phone system, which is now in the process of standardisation, aims to achieve data transmission speeds from 30 to 100 times higher than current rates (384Kbps for mobile, 2Mbps for static). Ultra-high voice clarity and mobile multimedia applications including video, large-capacity data and Internet access can all be possible through this system. The WCDMA system also utilises frequencies efficiently, allowing more subscribers to share the system.
URL: Bluetooth http://www.bluetooth.com
ABI, a US research organisation, has identified that limitations of conventional wired broadband technologies have become evident. In the US, line congestion and slow deployments of DSL and cable modems have apparently proved to be constant hurdles faced by many service providers, consultants, and their customers. As a result, ABI claim that some service providers are turning to fixed radio technologies. LMDS (local multipoint distribution systems) MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution system) and PCS (personal communication system) systems operating in the various ISM bands (900 MHz, 2.4, 5.1, and 5.8 GHz).
These technologies are expected to gain over 9 million broadband subscribers in the US by 2005, according to the research report entitled: "LMDS, MMDS, and ISM 2000: Global Markets and Trends for Fixed Wireless Broadband". It is suggested that advantages for this technology include: that networks can be built relatively quickly, cheaply and on-demand in areas of "high customer densities" making the economics attractive. Disadvantages cited, suggest that such networks may be susceptible to weather conditions and there remain line of sight interference issues.
US company, Teligent is to partner with LD COM, the telecommunications arm of the Louis Dreyfus Group and Artemis, a global investment holding company, to develop a broadband, fixed wireless business in France. As its first step, the new venture has applied to the French telecommunications authority (ART) for fixed wireless spectrum licenses in the 24.5-26.5 GHz band.
If awarded licenses, Teligent, LD COM and Artemis intend to provide high speed, low cost voice, data and Internet services to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in major French markets. The service offerings will be based on Teligent's SmartWave technology, which has already been launched in the US. 15/02/00
URL: LD COM http://www.ldcom.fr/
URL: Teligent http://www.teligent.com/
See the Mobile Computing topic page which includes resources concerned with the mobile web, wireless computing, wireless communications, WAP, Bluetooth, and wireless data.
All you ever wanted to know about cable modems, manufacturers, standards and projects, but weren't sure where to look. The CMU site has expanded considerably and contains information and links to a wide range of information both technical and market related. A number of papers are available in .pdf format about the developing cable modem business around the world.
URL: Cable Modem University http://www.catv.org/modem/
URL: Cable Modem Resources http://rpcp.mit.edu/~gingold/cable/
There are competing cable modem standards: DOCSIS from CableLabs in the US and DVB/DAVIC from the DVB/DAVIC Interoperability Consortium in Europe. DOCSIS modems are widely available in the US, but DVB modems are now available. The DVB modems are more suited to European networking architecture, but the higher volume production of DOCSIS in the US market gives them a price advantage at this stage.
URL: DAVIC http://www.davic.org/
URL: DVB http://www.dvb.org/
URL: EuroCableLabs http://www.ifn.ing.tu-bs.de/ecl/index.html
URL: Cable Datacom News http://www.cabledatacomnews.com/cmic.htm
URL: DVB compatible set top boxes http://www.opentv.com/
CableLabs acts as a clearinghouse to provide information on current and prospective technological developments that are of interest to the cable industry. CableLabs maintains web sites at:
- Cable modem standards and interoperability projects
- Information on the the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification - DOCSIS programme (see below)
- The Cable Net Operators web site
- Open Cable website - provides key interface specifications for the use of advanced digital set top box terminals in broadband two-way cable networks.
- Packetcable website - a project conducted by Cable Television Laboratories, and its member companies aimed at identifying, qualifying, and supporting Internet-based voice and video services over cable systems.
The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing of April 17, 2000 reports on how some high-speed Internet service providers "seem to be drowning in their success". The report, entitled "The Consumer Internet Steamroller" explains how, increasingly, the actions of a few heavy users are having a significant impact on others when using cable-based Internet services. 05/05/00
URL: April 17 issue http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/20000417.html
URL: Rapidly Changing Face of Computing home http://www.compaq.com/rcfoc/
Cable Datacom News publisher Kinetic Strategies estimates the number of cable modem customers in US and Canada now exceed 1 million. More information on their web sites.
DOCSIS documents describe the internal and external network interfaces for a system that allows bi-directional transfer of Internet Protocol (IP) traffic, between the cable system headend and customer premises, over a cable television system. The project objectives are:
- Write interface specifications to facilitate a variety of data communications service offerings over Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) networks that are compatible with both typical customer provided equipment as well as compatible with cable system hardware and business systems;
- Ensure that these specifications are vendor independent yet are still accepted and supported by the vendors to ensure interoperability.
Cablelabs has certified for retail sale high-speed cable modems from Thomson Consumer Electronics and Toshiba, passing a major milestone in the industrys move toward open standards. "We are pleased that Toshibas cable modem is one of the first DOCSIS cable modems to be certified by CableLabs", commented Mike Knudsen, VP/GM of Toshibas Network Products Division. "Having been involved with DOCSIS from the beginning, Toshiba understands the value of the DOCSIS standard to the future of the industry and is fully committed to producing the highest performance, most cost effective products based on that standard." According to industry analyst Dataquest, the cable modem market is expected to grow from 492,000 units in 1998 to 2.4 million by 2002. The certification process is an essential part of widespread consumer adoption of cable modem technology.
Broadcom Corporation, a provider of integrated circuits enabling broadband communications to and throughout the home and business, have demonstrated interoperability of EuroDOCSIS equipment at the European Cable Communication '99 event, held in London recently.
Broadcom's interoperability demonstration coincides with the Telecom Over Cable Operator Forum's (TOCOF) decision to use the University of Gent to establish and conduct a EuroDOCSIS interoperability certification program similar to the Cable Television Laboratories, DOCSIS program in the US. The interoperability demonstration consisted of cable modems, interactive cable-TV set-top boxes and cable modem termination systems (CMTS).
URL: Broadcom http://www.broadcom.com/
In a related announcement, Ericsson has unveiled PipeRider, its EuroDOCSIS compliant cable modem. PipeRider is one of the first products from Ericsson's Home Communications portfolio. The company claim the modem will, "allow users to access the Internet via their cable outlet, up to 100 times faster than the typical analog modems/ISDN connections, and eliminate use of the phone line".
URL: PipeRider http://www.ericsson.com/hip/piperider/
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), more than 1.3 million US households were using a cable modem service for a high-speed connection to the Internet by year-end 1999. By 2003, IDC expects close to 9 million US households will subscribe to a cable modem service. However, IDC expects the gap to diminish by 2003, with DSL overtaking cable modems as the consumer broadband access service of choice.
These were some of the findings published in the report: "The Cable Man Cometh: US Residential Data-Over-Cable Services Market Assessment and Forecast, 1998-2003". The report discusses major market trends and presents service provider profiles, which include information on rollout strategies, service offerings, pricing, and marketing plans. For more information or to order the report, contact Janis Dempsey at IDC.
URL: IDC http://www.idc.com/
Insufficiently robust regulation and obstructive behaviour by incumbent telecoms operators is undermining the potential of broadband services across much of the EU, concludes a new report, "Delivering DSL in Europe" from Analysys. In turn, this threatens to delay the development of e-commerce and the digital economy in Europe. The problems outlined centre on the reluctance of incumbent operators to unbundle the local loop sufficiently allowing new players to enter the market. 08/11/00
The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing, June 12, 2000 issue considers the developments surrounding optical networking and includes circumstantial evidence, from readers, concerning the the potential limitations associated with DSL technologies.
The issue also includes links to articles on the web which focus on the development of the mobile Internet and the emerging ebook market. Also use the web site below to subscribe to the email version of this thought provoking e-journal. 16/06/00
An important element of the EC's eEurope strategy is to deliver faster and cheaper access to the Internet for all consumers and businesses. The obvious short term technology for this is xDSL, which allows fast data traffic across ordinary telephone lines between the home and the local exchange. Dominant telephone companies have been slow to deploy this.
The EC's Information Society Directorate has published a working paper presenting ideas for a European policy to stimulate the rapid introduction of xDSL throughout Europe. A meeting about this was held in Brussels last week and comments are invited by 07/03/00, 2000.
The xDSL family of technologies is explained in a FAQ: "ADSL, HDSL, VDSL, DSL-Lite - what is this all about?" at the European Telework Online, which also has links to the Commission proposals and the Commission's wider-ranging Communications Review, 1999. 29/02/00
Resources on the various telephone-based Digital Subscriber Line (xDSL) technologies.
The ITU's Telecommunication Standardisation Sector approved a set of world standards providing Multi-Megabit/s network access via ordinary telephone subscriber lines by using ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology. According to ITU, systems based upon these ITU-T Recommendations are being introduced in many countries to provide affordable access to Internet, teleworking, distance learning, and multimedia services at speeds many times faster than possible via today's "dial-up" modems.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has officially sanctioned the G.Lite ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) standard developed by The Universal ADSL Working Group (UAWG). The G.Lite standard is expected to accelerate the international rollout of high-speed Internet access to consumers over existing phone lines. By reducing the complexity of the on-site installation and the need for new wiring at the user's home, G.Lite ADSL should make it possible to more cost-effectively increase bandwidth for the consumer by up to 30 times the speed of the current highest-speed analog modem technology.
Technology based on the G.Lite ADSL standard is already being packaged into products and service trials that are under way. For example, Compaq Computer announced that it was bringing faster Internet speeds to the home by equipping its PCs with the hardware necessary to make DSL installations seamless.
Over the next few months the UAWG will continue its interoperability testing and its work with the ITU to remove any barriers to the successful adoption of the standard. The UAWG, composed of leading PC industry, networking, and telecommunications companies, foresees G.Lite ADSL modems being a preferred PC modem technology by the year 2000.
A company calling itself Broadband Digital Group plans to offer a free, high-speed DSL service to Internet users. Called "FreeDSL", the web site making the announcement, claims that the service will be available in the US in April.
It appears that the service will be funded by "personalised advertising" - an open browser window (which can't be shut) displays advertising on users' screens whilst they are online. The move is seen as a direct attack on the free dial-up ISP market, and also the paid DSL and cable modem service providers that are charging anywhere from US$ 40 - 60 per month to provide higher speed Internet access.
According to the company, over 100,000 consumers signed-up for the FreeDSL service during first week of registration, this, despite the requirement for users to provide detailed personal and demographic information.
Texas Instruments believe that new digital signal processor (DSP) chips that they have announced will "speed up development of products for wireless videoconferencing, wireless e-mail and super-fast Internet access". The new chips may expand TI's market for DSPs used in affordable consumer electronics such as high-speed asynchronous digital subscriber line Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) modems for the home.
Deutsche Telekom plan to provide broadband Internet, video, and multimedia services to 28,000 subscribers as part of one of the largest ADSL installations in the world. Within this project, Deutsche Telekom intends to provide 70,000 lines in 43 cities, starting at the end of 1998. The new services will be based on Hi-FOCuS, an ATM over ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) broadband access system from ECI Telecom. This announcement follows the first commercial order for Hi-FOCuS from Kingston Communications in the UK, which planned to introduce ADSL broadband services to their customers in October 1998.
The launch of ADSL by France Telecom led to a backlash from annoyed customers. They set up a web site to coordinate complaints. The customers' main grumble seems to be that the speed is slower than ordinary modem access (tested on the same site at the same time) and a daily break in the "always-on" connection that makes it difficult to run a server.
Part of the problem appeared to be due to the number of users who are concentrated in each ADSL router and a bottleneck created by linking the router to the ISP by a relatively low bandwidth line. 16/05/00
In order to gain competitive advantage in the increasingly deregulated telecommunications industry, the pressure is increasing on carriers to expand their network infrastructures. With this expansion comes the dual requirement for additional fibre to service new routes, whilst at the same time easing congestion on existing routes.
Researchers believe that Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) could help to address some of the pressure of supplying increased bandwidth. DWDM increases the number of communication channels within a fibre optic cable, thereby letting service providers obtain more bandwidth from installed fibre. It is envisaged that DWDM could be deployed alongside the Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) technologies which are currently being implemented commercially. For further information see the "Introduction to DWDM" onthe web.
URL: Introduction to DWDM http://www.usa.alcatel.com/telecom/transpt/optical/techpaps/ad9802.htm
A new report from US-based Communications Industry Researchers (CIR), an optical networking market research firm, suggests that expenditures on DWDM equipment for deployment outside North America will amount to approximately US$ 1.2 billion this year, growing to $2.9 billion in 2004 (see table below).
"Wave Division Multiplexing, Photonic Switching and the Coming of All Optical Networks 1999-2000, Volume 2, International Market Opportunities", claims that that such trends have gone the furthest in Western Europe, where an apparently ever growing number of service providers are in the process of building backbone facilities. According to CIR: "these service providers have different motivations. For example, Global Crossing is building its Pan European Crossing to provide raw bandwidth to other service providers and large end users, while France Telecom and British Telecom are building European backbones to support the next generation of value added services. Both motivations have led these carriers to deploy terrestrial DWDM systems extensively in their European networks and as other service providers catch on to the trend, the European DWDM market is expected to increase from US$ 580 million now to US$ 1.2 billion in 2004".
The report is published in two volumes, the first concentrates on North America whilst the second focuses on Europe. A Table of Contents for each volume is available on the web, a single volume costs US$ 2,995, whilst both are priced at US$ 5,000.
2000 2001 2004 Submarine Systems 440 586 906 Europe 578 779 1184 Pacific Rim 169 259 602 Other 60 92 193 GRAND TOTAL 1246 1715 2885
Source: Communications Industry Researchers
In an attempt to make optical data networking a reality, Lucent Technologies have unveiled its WaveWrapper technology. Developed by Bell Labs, WaveWrapper promises to provide network management functions such as optical-layer performance monitoring, error correction and ring-protection capabilities on a per-wavelength basis.
Lucent believes that this will enable optical data networks that can reliably carry packet-based traffic such as Internet Protocol (IP), Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) directly over the optical layer of the network. Lucent plans to integrate WaveWrapper with its 80-channel Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) system, the WaveStar OLS 400G, by December, 1999 - initially focusing on wavelengths that transmit information at a rate of 10 gigabits per second (Gb/s).
DWDM technology enables communications providers to transmit different wavelengths, or channels, of light on the same fiber strand, thereby increasing the fiber's bandwidth. Adding more wavelengths, however, has presented service providers with a new challenge: cost-effectively managing the increasing number of wavelengths to provide fast, reliable services to their end customers.
WaveWrapper places a small digital "wrapper" around each input wavelength as it enters Lucent's WaveStar optical transmission systems. These wrappers carry information such as restoration signals, what type of traffic the wavelength is carrying and where it is headed. Lucent's WaveStar systems then can determine the health of the signal, whether it needs to be rerouted and if the necessary equipment exists to receive the signal at its intended destination.
Until now, the only feasible way to monitor, analyze and manage optical channels was to rely on Synchronous Optical NETworking (SONET) or Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) signals and equipment throughout the network. Lucent claims that: "WaveWrapper technology will provide similar functionality and reliability, but at a lower cost and without adding more equipment to the network". Detailed information about how digital-wrapper technology could be implemented as a standard for bandwidth management have been provided by Lucent to the ANSI T1 - Telecommunications Standards Committee, the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Optical networking technologies hold out the promise of vastly increasing network capacity. Lucent have published information relating to their research in the area, which provides a good explanation of the potential for such developments.
Communications Industry Researchers (CIR), a US market research and consulting firm specialising in communications technology, has published a white paper on the impact of new fiber optic component technology on telecommunications. It provides insight and analysis on how developments at the component level are boosting the bandwidths available from fiber optic systems. It examines four major trends:
- movement towards ultra-dense wave division multiplexing (UD-WDM) based on closer spacing of channels and improved amplification techniques;
- improvements in fiber technologies;
- inexpensive small form factor components that may make fiber-to-the-desk and fiber-to-the-home practical being standardised by industry coalitions;
- commercialisation of optical switching, with true photonic switching becoming a commercial reality in the next five years.
The white paper is available through completion of a registration form on the white paper section of the CIR site.
URL: CIR white paper http://www.cir-inc.com
Full service telecoms networks based on Internet Protocol (IP) platforms will not be deployed until 2002, according to a new report from UK telecoms consultancy, Analysys. The report entitled: "Next Generation Networks: Integrated IP Architectures" finds that there are still missing elements in the architecture for carrier-scale IP networks, particularly the voice gateways, end-to-end call control, quality-of-service support (except when over ATM) and network management facilities.
"Carrier-scale voice gateways have been announced, but have yet to ship, never mind prove themselves in real networks," claimed Margaret Hopkins, the report's lead author. "Products from companies such as Cisco are on the market but have yet to be trialled in a network supporting millions of simultaneous calls."
An executive summary of this report is available on request from Analysys Publications. Whilst the full report is available either in paper format or electronically via the web at a cost of UK pounds 1,295 or 1,495 respectively.
URL: Analysys Publications http://www.analysys.com/publish
URL: Analysys http://www.analysys.com
A study published by iLocus reveals the leading companies in IP telephony industry. Based on interviews with 100 carriers and 50 vendors in IP telephony market, the report "Global IP Telephony Market 2000/01" identifies Cisco, Clarent, Vocaltec and Lucent as leaders in the equipment market. The study establishes two different criteria to work out the market shares in order to provide a clearer picture and properly represent the leading vendors.
Cisco leads the market in terms of the ports shipped and ports being used for commercial traffic. For phone-to-phone application, Clarent equipment ships more traffic than equipment from any other competing vendor. The report estimates 1.6 billion minutes of IP telephony traffic being originated per month worldwide. ITXC, Net2Phone and iBasis lead the market along with US domestic carriers Genuity and NetVoice. According to the report IP telephony service revenues in 2000 stood at an estimated US$1.83 billion. Further information from the iLocus site. 22/12/00
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has launched TIPHON Net (Telecommunications and Internet Protocol Harmonization Over Networks), a conformance testing platform to facilitate interoperability between IP telephony equipment and carriers.
An initial demonstration has been run and ETSI plans the development of standards to ensure the interworking of IP-based equipment and circuit-switched networks in a multi-carrier environment. ETSI believes that specific standards are required for billing, security, quality of service.
ETSI and the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium (IMTC) have agreed to cooperate on the technological developments needed to enable Voice over IP (VoIP) networks to interwork with switched circuit networks. Terms of the agreement include conducting joint interoperability testing and cooperative development of test specifications. The cooperation will be based on ETSI's TIPHON Net.
URL: ETSI http://www.etsi.org/
URL: TIPHON Net http://www.etsi.org/tiphon/
URL: IMTC http://www.imtc.org
TelNIC, the .tel Network Information Centre, has applied to ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) for the creation and management of a new communications top-level domain (TLD) called .tel. The intention of the application is to enable IP telephony users to be able to type in 'anyname.tel' in order to reach the holder of this unique .tel address, rather than use the alternative of a full IP address.
Martin Augier, TelNIC's Head of Operations, explains: "The benefits of .tel are very tangible. Instead of traditional telephone codes and numbers, a user has a communication 'anyname.tel' address; it can be more or less any length, and it is very easy to understand and use". TelNIC is committed to establishing and managing .tel within a registry operation called Telnic.org. 03/11/00
Ericsson and Japan Telecom have reported that they have successfully completed a field trial of Voice over IP over WCDMA. According to the companies, the field trial results prove that voice can be efficiently transported over an IP-based mobile network, including the cellular air-interface, to mobile terminals, with "full quality of voice service as well as full quality of other service features such as data, without loss of capacity".
The trial was made over Japan Telecom's WCDMA experimental system by running Ericsson's new header-compression algorithm, called Robust Checksum-based Header Compression (ROCCO), which is currently undergoing standardization within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). 15/09/00
iLocus is a news site which covers IP telephony. It provides news on daily basis and also provides other IP telephony industry information. There is a daily and weekly email digest service which can be signed-up for on the web site.
A site that tracks recent developments in IP Telephony, run by "Broadband Bob" for the CATV Cyberlab.
Netscape and 3Com are working together on a "wireless Internet messaging service" for the new 3Com Palm VII organizer. The companies plan to use Netscape web server technology to provide a "commercial" two-way wireless messaging service towards the end of 1999. Essentially a store-and-forward mechanism, two levels of service are envisaged according to storage and access required to the server by the user.
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) in the US is seeking input from the computer and wireless telecommunications industries on wireless Internet protocol (WIP) definitions and the development of WIP standards. In order to develop consensus on subjects such as service-level quality for WIP, the TIA is sponsoring the WIP Partnership (WIPP) which is working with associations worldwide "in inventorying wireless IP (WIP) efforts around the world and working towards a worldwide protocol".
WIPP will operate based on the following assumptions:
- the WIP standard will be technology transparent and will include CDMA, TDMA, GSM and satellite wireless technologies;
- the WIP standard will provide wireline ISDN functionality to digital wireless packet data capabilities within the next 12-18 months;
- the WIP standard will not only provide full Internet functionality to desktop PCs, workstations, laptops, PDAs, but also mobile wireless devices.
The organisational meeting of WIPP took place in Gaithersburg, USA, on September 22, 1999. Thirty companies attended, including Ericsson, Nokia, Lucent, Motorola, Hughes, Harris, Siemens, Nortel Networks, Toshiba, Philips, SBC Communications, Cisco, 3COM, COMSAT, InterDigital, and DSPC.
URL: WIPP http://www.tiaonline.org/standards/wipp/
URL: TIA http://www.tiaonline.org/
The January 2000 issue of Information Gatekeepers' Wireless Internet Newsletter (available as a printed publication on subscriptuion) predicts that 830 million mobile devices will access the Internet by 2005, up from 600 million predicted for 2003. The figures also predict that by 2003 more people will access the Internet via a mobile phone than via a PC.
There have been a spate of problems with public broadband networks in the US. These have covered cable modems, DSL networking and other highspeed networks. Although some of these problems are blamed on new hardware / software installation and the rapidly changing technology, there are also claims that there are "... too many people using the high-speed network at the same time ...".
Earlier in the year a cap was placed on upload speeds to stop 'abusers' using too much bandwidth by a number of services. If I bought an 'always on' service that claimed to provide 400 kbs upload speed and was then cut off for using it, I would be pretty annoyed. The sad fact is that the forecasts used to design the systems are not keeping pace with the changes in user demand due to the availability of streamed audio and video, and easy to use web server software. A recent article in IEEE Spectrum said, "Cable systems can deliver data at 30MB/S ...", but admitted, "AT&T has concluded that it can easily support 420 customers with a single 6-MHz TV channel". Not if the users are watching separate video streams at 1.5MB/S, it can't! Conversations with executives in European telcos lead to the suspicion that similar situations will arise here.
URL: practical experience with DSL http://www.ehsco.com/opinion/19980413.html
URL: satellite experience
IEEE Spectrum May 1999, "Cable: it's not just for TV", http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/content/pcwo/0326/299170.html
After last year's caps on upload speed and restrictions on operating web servers from home connections, by various US cable broadband operators, Comcast@Home has now outlawed the use of VPN (Virtual Private Networks). VPN technology allows the creation of highly secure closed networks running over the Internet, and is often used for secure tele-commuting. As the basis for these restrictions is to limit users to a uniformly low actual bandwidth use, that corresponds to the operating assumptions that the operators have built into their business models, it is likely that similar restrictions will appear in time in the services being introduced in Europe. As pointed out in the recent Analytic article on broadband, the assumptions that are made about individual use (based on page web surfing rather than streamed video access, and assuming that users have no interest in posting large amounts of information to each other) are naive and inconsistent with broadband application profiles. The problems are common to nearly all the types of broadband service proposed for the near future. 18/08/00
URL: http://www.comcastonline.com/subscriber-v3-red.asp contract amendments
URL: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-200-2536215.html CNET news background
CNET News report that a class action has been launched against Southwestern Bell for limiting DSL speeds to values lower than the minimum guaranteed in their contracts. In a related report by a Gartner expert, this is claimed to be a common way of reducing traffic to 'manageable' levels on the backbone. Given the low level of penetration, the problems are not a good sign for the industry. 25/08/00
The Intel Developers Conference included a major presentation by Patrick Gelsinger of the possibilities of peer-to-peer computing that may be the next big Internet development after the Web. A number of tools were highlighted including HP e-Speak and CenterSpan's Socket system for text messaging.
The keynote transcript is available on the Intel web site. Intel are also launching an industry peer-to-peer working group to develop specifications and standards. 30/08/00
URL: Gelsinger paper http://webcast.mediaondemand.com/intel/20000803/launch.html
Several new documents have now been published on the UK's Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL) web site, although most concentrate on UK regulation, they provide a good background to issues affecting many European countries. Latest documents include:
- DG Information Society working documents on the future regulatory framework for communications infrastructure and associated services
- The UK consultation document, "Access to Bandwidth: Indicative prices and pricing principles"
URL: press release http://www.oftel.gov.uk/releases/2000/pr38_00.htm
- a Teligen study for OFTEL - "International Benchmarking Study of Telecommunication Services"
Nortel Networks and a diverse range of Internet infrastructure, content and service providers have joined together to establish the Broadband Content Delivery Forum (BCDF). The BCDF will focus on "recommending open architectures to deliver rich, multimedia content over the emerging broadband networks and improve end user experience through improved performance and personalization".
The goal of the group, (which also includes companies such as: Alta Vista, AT&T Broadband, BBC, Bertelsmann, British Telecom, Hewlett Packard, InfoLibria, Inktomi, NBCi, Sun Microsystems, Telstra, TVA Sistema de Televisao) is to improve the end-user experience while opening up new opportunities for service and content providers that increase value to customers.
Each of the members is hoping to concentrate on core competencies in order to make the goal of broadband delivery of rich media content a commercial reality. For more information on the forum and its members, see the BCDF web site. 05/05/00
iBlast Networks, comprised of 12 major US television broadcast groups, plans to establish a national network that will use a dedicated portion of the digital spectrum assigned to local television stations to deliver "a wide array of high-speed, over-the-air broadband digital content and services direct to consumers".
iBlast claim that they will deliver digital content which, "will include music, video, games, software, and other applications". With testing of its new wireless digital network underway, iBlast expects to begin service in early 2001. The company claims to have signed agreements with broadcasters which give the service "more than 80% coverage of the US". 17/03/00
Radio Satellite Integrators, a US developer of GPS based vehicle tracking systems, have announced the release of the V-Track 2000. The technology is aimed at the fleet management and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) applications.
Designed to utilise multiple communications mediums for vehicle data reporting, the system can, apparently, automatically select the most cost-effective and available means of communication at any given time, be it VHF/UHF two-way radio, analog cellular, CDPD, BellSouth Wireless Data, CDMA, or satellite.
"The Pan European Carrier Market: the Emergence of a New Model", a report from UK research company Ovum, predicts that whilst the development of pan-European networks offers huge growth opportunities for operators, the fierce competition could severely damage some operators. Ovum predicts that total cross border bandwidth demand in Europe will reach over 9 Tbit/s by 2005, from 339 Gbit/s in 2000, driven by Internet and corporate data services.
There are currently more than 20 pan-European networks in service, under construction, or in the planning stages. These mostly focus on the main traffic routes within Europe - particularly those between the financial centres in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Paris. The players include new entrants trying to gain a foothold in the market (eg. iaxis), non-European carriers eyeing new opportunities (eg. Level 3), and incumbents spreading their wings beyond national boundaries (eg. Telia).
The full report is available from Ovum at UK pounds 1795 or US$ 3150.
Lucent Technologies are planning to build an optical network in the UK that will form the backbone of BT's next-generation Global Transport Network (GTN). Both parties expect an agreement to be concluded during December. At a capacity of one trillion bits per second, it will be the UK's first commercial terabit (1 million M/bits) network - with the ability to transmit the data contained on nearly 200 CD-ROMs per second.
The network will be based on Lucent's WaveStar product line which utilises DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplexing). According to Lucent, BT will able to choose between running a conventional SDH layer across the DWDM system or migrating in the future to packet-based technologies such as IP (Internet Protocol), Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or ATM (Asychronous Transfer Mode).
Promoting broadcast-quality, interactive video communications based on MPEG-2 is behind the formation of the Interactive MPEG-2 Forum, a cooperative organisation of twelve US vendors of MPEG-2 products and a major university.
The forum's initial mission is to facilitate the interoperability of products using the MPEG-2 compression standards. The group will publish interoperability recommendations for interactive MPEG-2 applications by mid-year 2000.
Interactive broadband MPEG-2 systems are apparently enjoying increased acceptance today in applications such as distance learning, telemedicine, and general conferencing. The requirement for interoperability between different products and services will become increasingly important as systems using the technology are more widely deployed. Membership of the forum is open to vendors participating in the interactive MPEG-2 marketplace.
URL: membership information mailto:email@example.com
The International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium (IMTC) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to "promoting, encouraging and facilitating the development and implementation of interoperable multimedia teleconferencing solutions based on open, international standards". The US-based consortium includes more than 150 member organisations from around the globe. Membership is open to any interested party, including vendors of audio, document, and video teleconferencing hardware and software, communications companies, teleconferencing service providers, end users, academic institutions, government agencies and non-profit organisations.
Since 1996, the IMTC has hosted more than 40 interoperability events around the globe to test T.120, H.320, H.323 and H.324 products and services for compatibility with each other. The consortium is taking an increasing interest in the growing fields of mobility and wireless technologies and the standards developments from the IMTC, ETSI, IETF and ITU addressing these areas.
Internet Services Network (ISN) News is a free, weekly e-mail newsletter that provides updates on developments within Microsoft, concerning mobile services and related telecoms news. The newsletter provides the latest Microsoft Internet product and technology news for commercial network operators, and also provides information on resources and industry initiatives related to the sector. Subscribe to the newsletter from the ISN web site.
URL: ISN http://www.microsoft.com/isn/telco/
ITU News is the official magazine of the International Telecommunication Union, published 10 times a year in English, French and Spanish. First published in 1869 as the Journal télégraphique international, ITU News renders a first-hand account of the Union's activities and the global issues of concern to people from all areas of the telecommunications industry. The magazine is published online and is downloadable in PDF format.
The ITU have released a report on the role of the national telecommunications policy maker and regulator in the development of electronic commerce. The report, entitled "Regulatory issues for E-commerce", also reviews the participants' views on the possible role of the ITU in facilitating electronic commerce. The report, a product of the Eighth Regulatory Colloquium held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva last December, is designed to assist telecommunications regulators and policy-makers, in grappling with the many issues they are confronted with as a result of the rapid uptake of e-commerce.
The Colloquium reached five key conclusions:
- E-commerce is driven by market forces and technological change, not by regulation;
- the regulator's main role is to assure open access to telecommunications;
- new developments such as Internet telephony pose new challenges to the telecommunications regulation;
- many critical issues raised by e-commerce including IPR, taxation, dispute resolution and contract issues, fall outside the telecommunications' regulator's scope although they should endeavour to keep abreast of developments in the full range of policy issues and provide advice whenever necessary;
- the ITU has an important role to play in e-commerce, largely within its current agenda.
The report is available free of charge from the ITU's Strategic Planning Unit or on the ITU web site.
URL: Strategic Planning Unit mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
URL: report http://www.itu.int/plweb-cgi/fastweb?getdoc+view1+itudoc+4543+0++Regulatory%20issues%20for%20E-commerce
URL: ITU http://www.itu.int
A number of vendors have established the Directory Interoperability Forum with the intention, "to speed development and deployment of directory-enabled applications that run across different computing environments". Directories allow businesses to store and provide access to different types of information, (including e-mail addresses, phone numbers, security credentials and device configurations), vital to managing networks and conducting e-business.
According to Forrester Research, Fortune 500 companies typically maintain as many as 190 separate directories, making interoperability among the applications that use them critical. The Forum aims to "help developers create and bring to market directory-enabled applications based on open standards such as the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)". The member companies will work closely with industry associations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), The Open Group and the DMTF to speed enhancement and adoption of directory standards.
US company, Bowstreet, has submitted the Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) 1.0 specification to OASIS, W3C and BizTalk in the hope that it will be adopted as a "standard directory infrastructure for e-commerce applications".
According to the press release, DSML "is supported by the collective efforts of IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and the Sun-Netscape Alliance". The DSML 1.0 specification submission enables different vendors' directory services to work together through the use of XML. For more information on DSML 1.0 and the companies that support it, visit the web site below.
URL: DSML http://www.dsml.org/
URL: W3C http://www.w3c.org/
The ACTS project Horizon, in conjunction with Infowin, have produced a CD ROM: "Photonic Technologies in Europe" which covers the work of 35 R&D projects, that make up the ACTS Photonics Domain, studying light and lightwave communications and computing. The Roadmap chapter gives an overview of the the current state and future directions of photonics R&D. For example it predicts that by the year 2002, small offices and homes will use bit rates of 10 Mbits/sec, rising to 100 Mbits/sec by 2010. There are also guidelines, representing a distillation of the expertise that has been built up and which could prove invaluable for prospective implementors of the technology. Copies of the CD-ROM are available free, send a message to the email address below.
CIR is a communication industry market research organisation that has produced a report: "Internet Implications 2: What Building the Internet Will Mean for Service Providers and Their Suppliers". Their web site has the executive summaries of this and other reports which contain a great deal of useful information on the development of ATM, WDM and other broadband technologies in the market place. Their newsletter on High-Speed Networking contains fascinating snippets like: "The 1000BASE-T draft standard will enable Gigabit Ethernet to extend to distances of up to 100 meters over Unshielded Twisted Pair Category 5 copper wiring, which constitutes the majority of the cabling inside buildings".
CTR Group, is building a Global Super-Internet specifically designed for business applications. The company plan that "Project Oxygen", will provide high-capacity worldwide access to the Internet of the future. With a projected total cost of US$14 billion, the network will comprise some: "275,000 km of optical fiber cable, with a proposed minimum of 100 gigabits per second transmission capacity on every segment, envisioned to increase to more than 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) per second on certain routes".
A number of multinational companies based in the United States, Europe and Japan have provided initial capitalization to launch Project Oxygen. The first phase of the project is planned to be operational by the year 2000 with the entire project to be completed no later than 2003.
"The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing" is an electronic journal sponsored by Digital to provide: "insight, analysis and commentary on the innovations and trends of contemporary computing, and the technologies that drive them".
The journal for February 23, 1998 entitled "Quietly Into the Night?" for example, has an interesting piece how faster Internet access may be delivered to consumers ("Expanding Options for The Last Mile"). Citing technologies that many people consider as front-runners eg. 56K modems, ADSL in its various forms, and cable TV modems, the article also covers more revolutionary approaches eg. Khamsin Technologies who: "have just revealed the fruits of a secret five-year research program - a specialized "last mile" cable that can deliver bi-directional data at 622 Mbits/second".
URL: The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing http://www.digital.com/rcfoc/
URL: "Quietly Into the Night?" http://www.digital.com/rcfoc/980223.htm
Level of service on the Internet is becoming a major consideration for many corporate users. The question of how to measure traffic across an IP network has been a question that has vexed the Internet community for some time. There are increasing pressures on ISPs to offer differentiated grades of service as they chase the corporate market, which could see the the introduction of some form of traffic prioritisation.
Some industry observers believe that priority traffic systems will be developed first on Intranets. Products, such as Packeteer, are beginning to emerge which prioritise LAN traffic prior to it entering the router. Rather than control at the network layer, Packeteer prioritises according to a particular application's "bandwidth" requirements.
In what must be the first of many likely value-added Internet services to emerge The Digital Island overnet provides an alternative to the public Internet for commercial applications. The company is targeting multinational corporations committed to the Internet for strategic marketing and e-commerce but are constrained by the unreliability and overall performance of generally available public services.
Digital Island runs a network with a distributed-star architecture, with data centers in Honolulu and London, that connects directly to 24 POPs (Points of Presence) in 16 countries. The company offers performance level guarantees for applications such as e-commerce, Internet EDI, Internet telephony, intranets, and video/data conferencing. These performance guarantees are based on three bandwidth purchasing options: "Managed", "Reserved" or "Open" - which dictate the minimum data transfer rates.
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