Florida Town Rises from Hurricane Wreckage with VOIP Triple-Play - Page 2

By Ellen Muraskin  |  Posted 2004-09-04 Print this article Print

Where movies and billing information are concerned, it will operate as hotel TV systems do, letting you order movies for playing within three to four days, and showing you the status of your account at any time. Like your cable company, it will offer on-screen program guides. It will even let you play voice mail through the TV. The service will also have a somewhat richer and equally integrated Web portal to the same calling features, movie ordering and account information. Three infrastructure companies, led by IP Centrex platform maker NetCentrex Inc., formed a consortium, called iPlay3, in order to integrate and deliver this combined offering. The other two were Highdeal, which makes a rating, billing, settlement and data analysis engine for use by telecom, Internet and entertainment companies; and Envivio Inc., which makes video-streaming and broadcasting solutions using MPEG-4/H.264 video formats.
The town found a partner in LatAm Communications, a managed video and communications service provider supplying VOIP and video-on-demand to clients in South Florida and Latin America. Using Homesteads power utility easements, a community development block grant from the state of Florida and its own investment of over $4.5 million, LatAm started the project by laying a 15-mile "self-healing" fiber-optic ring around the city and by building a network operating center on the site of the "Smart Park"–a 160-acre tract of land owned by the city.
LatAm wired the Smart Park and secured the right to turn it into a tax-favored foreign trade zone to attract office and warehouse tenants and stimulate job growth. LatAm also has agreed to pay Homestead a portion of revenue for every strand of fiber used in the ring, prepaying for the first five years. IP Centrex (hosted IP PBX) services are also being offered to Smart Park business occupants. Fiber has been seen as an expensive broadband medium for individual homes–one hard to recover in subscriber costs. Verizon and SBC have started to deploy fiber in certain communities, to prepare their own triple plays in their struggle against cable operators. Alain Fernando-Santana, CEO of NetCentrex, says that many rural communities have laid down local fiber loops to get the broadband that their rural carriers wont invest in. But LatAm Telecommunications has several advantages with Homestead, according to Roman Martinez, CEO. The first, of course, is its greenfield status. Wiring at construction time is running about $1,100 less per house than it would in an overbuild. "The cost is low compared with fiber-to-the-home deployments elsewhere, because we knew where these deployments would be," he explains. "Most of the new houses are within a mile of the ring. The last mile is really a last mile." Next Page: Greenfield advantages.

Ellen Muraskin is editor of eWEEK.com's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.

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