U.S. Cable MSOs Keep Things Moving With Fiber, IoT, Gigabit Internet, and Open Source

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 with No comments

What's new in the U.S. cable MSO market? Quite a bit! Here's a roundup of recent industry news, including Altice's fiber-to-the-home built-out, VoIP for small business from CenturyLink, the fizzled Sprint/Charter merger and what might happen next, Comcast's IoT ambitions, Cox's gigabit internet strategy, and open source community involvement on the part of Comcast and Telefonica.

As part of a five-year plan involving its entire Optimum footprint and part of its Suddenlink service area, Altice USA is now rolling out fiber-to-the-home, Light Reading reported. The operator's strategy is different than most of its peers in the U.S., which are heavily focused on DOCSIS 3.1 for high-speed broadband. Using what it considers pioneering GPON technology, Altice thinks it can cost-effectively deploy fiber instead, as a means to expand its existing plant, much of is built around aerial connections rather than underground cabling.   

It might seem old-school, but VoIP for small business is the focus of two new service packages from CenturyLink, Light Reading reported. The operator is providing two cloud-based, pre-packaged services: basic for roughly $20/line per month, and a unified communications upgrade for about $5 more per month. CenturyLink said this type of service is still something small businesses need to reduce their voice costs and gain access to more features like email & calendar integration and making softphones available on laptop computers. 

An initial bid on the part of Sprint to merge with Charter Communications has fizzled (for the moment), but there's still speculation that SoftBankwhich has a stake in Sprintmight buy Charter outright, Light Reading said. And it is entirely possible that Charter will consider a reseller deal with Sprint, as a way to expand beyond its existing MVNO arrangement with Verizon. 

The growing importance of Internet of Things (IoT) to the telecommunications and cable industries is nicely illustrated by service expansion on the part of Comcast, which is expanding its low-power, wide-area (LoRa) network to twelve new markets, through its machineIQ business unit, SDxCentral reported

The markets Comcast chose for machineIQMiami, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Washington, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Baltimore, and Minneapolismade the cut because of demand, in particular related to smart city initiatives. Focus for these services is on applications like utility metering, environmental monitoring, and asset tracking, SDxCentral said.  

Comcast also recently became the first U.S. cable MSO to join Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), bringing that organization's total number of members to 50, Light Reading reported. This is a significant step in the operator's strategy to prove its growing influence in the open source community, a logical step given its focus on embracing virtualization for internal IT operations and cable modem termination system. 

A pioneer in offering gigabit-speed connectivity, Cox has found the process of rolling this service out to be slower than expected, noted Light Reading. The operator originally intended to begin deploying gigabit across its entire footprint by end of 2016, but as of now it has entered parts of 13 states out of the 18 it covers. It continues on, however, and now expects to reach virtually all the rest of its customers by end of 2019. 

As it works on automating and virtualizing its networks and IT systems, Telefonica is now considering joining the ONAP initiative, potentially merging into that organization its Open Source MANO (OSM) project as a means of expand its scope, Light Reading reported. That would represent the integration of two rival efforts focused on the complex issue of management and network orchestration.