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Vonage Holdings Corp. Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Results

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Vonage Reviews

Injecting Intelligence into the Broadband Service Delivery Infrastructure


Vonage In Print News

October 24, 2003
By Staff

Itís clear that broadband is rapidly gaining market acceptance. Residential cable modem and DSL subscribers in the U.S. and Canada reached 23.9 million by the end of June, according to figures released by research firm Kinetic Strategies Inc. Those numbers will continue to climb, as a recent study by the Pew Institute indicated that 43% of dial-up users are interested in upgrading to broadband.

With a fierce battle emerging among service providers to use the broadband infrastructure to deliver the triple play of voice, video and data services, a number of new applications and service delivery models are emerging.

For example, broadband voice over IP phone company Vonage just reached the 50,000 customer milestone, where it offers consumers ďall you can eatĒ long distance and local phone services for $34.95 per month. AT&T is currently testing a consumer Voip service similar to Vonage. Sony and Microsoft have partnered with Level(3) Communications for gaming content delivery. BellSouth recently announced plans to launch a customized version of Movielink's online movie rental service to its DSL customers. And, thatís only a fraction of whatís recently been rolled out and planned by service and content providers.

Since itís unclear which delivery and pricing models and applications will gain market acceptance, the availability of a high speed connection itself is not enough. Service providers must design their broadband delivery infrastructure to support the delivery of high-speed, QoS-sensitive applications, regardless of what they are or how they are billed. Given the economic necessity to maximize investment in the existing infrastructure, service provider network evolution must tie into existing Internet backbones while adding the service intelligence required to tie into a variety of access networks and new service delivery networks.

To understand why itís so critical to evolve broadband networks to support the voice, video and data triple play, itís important to look back at the requirements that led to the deployment of todayís broadband infrastructure and to observe how dramatically those requirements have changed.

First-generation BRAS (broadband remote access server) devices simply acted as session managers for broadband dial-up connectivity. The primary role of the BRAS was to aggregate subscribers to one of multiple single service networks. This was typically done in a static fashion with very little knowledge of network topology required in the session manager. This model was most prevalent for connecting wholesale customers to the Internet.

Todayís requirements are changing dramatically. Broadband connectivity is undergoing a fundamental shift from a service in and of itself to an underlying architecture supporting a wide range of services that businesses and consumers can choose based on their needs and preferences. With the previous content delivery examples mentioned, itís obvious that this shift is already occurring. Itís also clear why this is happening. Customer A may use their broadband connection only occasionally, to check email and surf the web. In contrast, customer B may be a heavy downloader of music or other multimedia content. The way in which broadband providers deliver and bill for connectivity Ė a set monthly price for a specified amount of bandwidth regardless of bandwidth consumption Ė creates a revenue model that financially penalizes providers who roll out bandwidth-hungry multimedia services. And, with more and more multimedia content available, itís clear that the right approach is to enable a wide range of billing models beyond a straight pay-per-month service for network connectivity.

A new generation of technology is required to fully support the shift from basic high-speed Internet access to a complete portfolio of new broadband services. These services are also now often delivered using Internet appliances. Examples of these include voice over IP devices to support services like Vonage, digital video recorders that use the Internet to access channel and scheduling information, home security systems that use the Internet for remote monitoring and more. The most popular consumer and business services include the delivery of services including IP VPNs, packet voice, video-on-demand, broadcast TV, gaming and music over broadband. These services bring infrastructure requirements that go well beyond speed. Instead of connecting users to different wholesale networks, users are now being connected to different service delivery networks.

Since itís not economically feasible for service providers to decommission their existing infrastructure and replace their networks, the broadband network must evolve in a cost-efficient manner. The key place of connectivity and intelligence between the access network and various service delivery networks is at the point where the BRAS device resides. That is why both new and existing BRAS vendors have all begun to incorporate a number of fundamental features required to cost-effectively inject intelligence into todayís broadband network via the insertion of a new BRAS device.

The next generation of BRAS devices bring:

Increased Scale: This is required for two reasons. The first is that the average-bandwidth usage per subscriber increases dramatically with the addition of multimedia service delivery. For example, broadband Internet access requires an average 50 Kbps of bandwidth and a typical peak usage of 1.5 Mbps. A Broadcast TV service requires an order of magnitude more bandwidth with an average 512 Kbps and a peak of 2 Mbps or more. Another factor driving the scale of BRAS devices upward is the accelerating pace of user adoption. As users become more familiar with the service they begin discovering new applications and consume more bandwidth.

Granular QoS: This is needed to guarantee delivery of delay-sensitive multimedia applications and high-speed Internet services on a single connection. For example, this allows a user to purchase voice, broadcast TV, gaming and high-speed Internet service over a single consumer broadband connection while ensuring that each service receives precisely the bandwidth required.

Application Aware Accounting: This is needed to enable the controlled delivery and billing of various applications. Accounting mechanisms must be tunable to enable custom flow-based accounting techniques, which service and content providers can use to deliver and bill for a wide range of services using the billing model that makes most sense for the service. This could be a per-minute charge for international phone calls, a per-video charge for a video-on-demand service or a per-song charge for a music service.

Intelligence: This is required to separate and direct packets to different content and service networks. This enables service providers to offer multiple services that are sourced from separate gaming and video-on-demand networks, for example.

Multicast Support: This enables providers to deliver broadcast video and audio services to large numbers of simultaneous users. For example, they can then deliver a wide range of broadcast TV and audio channels over broadband.

Integrated Provisioning: Connectivity to back-office and higher-level OSS applications is another must for accounting and billing information, performance and usage data. The use of provisioning tools should also help improve turn-up time, reduce provision cost and enhance overall efficiency.

After years of promise, the broadband market is coming into its own with a number of new multimedia service options now available. While it is unclear which (if any) will be the long predicted broadband killer application, what is certain is that the underlying infrastructure requirements have shifted dramatically. No longer are large pipes the sole answer. Service intelligence in the network is the key to enabling large-scale delivery of sophisticated multimedia services over broadband. Though the first generation of BRAS devices provided session management to route traffic over different ISP networks, the role of the BRAS has changed dramatically. The BRAS is becoming the critical connection point between the access network and service delivery networks. As such, it must be able to recognize and deliver the multitude of voice, video and data applications in a secure, reliable fashion Ė no matter where those applications originate or what billing model is implemented.



 
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ÜAK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ÜÜLimited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. ÜVALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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