Cisco Targets Service Providers Triple-Play Ambitions

Cisco adds new hardware and software enhancements aimed at the edge of service provider networks intended to better support the connected life of consumers.

Cisco Systems at the Globalcomm conference on June 5 planted a flag in the fertile service provider ground in its aim to be the triple-play services enabler for telecommunications carriers.

Cisco added new hardware and software enhancements aimed at the edge of service provider networks intended to better support the connected life of consumers.

Among them is the new Intelligent Services Gateway software upgrade for the Cisco 10000 Series, 7200 Series and 7301 edge routers.

The ISG adds enhanced subscriber awareness, resource provisioning and access control to provide a single sign-on capability for subscribers, whether they access services from a TV screen, laptop or iPod, according to Suraj Shetty, director of marketing for Ciscos service provider routing group in San Jose, Calif.

Cisco has some 50,000 of those routers installed as broadband aggregation devices in service provider networks.

"Key here is the 50,000 units can be easily upgraded with the [ISG] software download," he said.

Aiming to improve subscribers experience with triple-play services, Cisco made it possible with the new ISG for service providers to add push-based network features that allow subscribers to decide which applications they want to be automatically prioritized.

Existing subscriber management systems allow for pull-based techniques such as parental control or turbo-buttons that accelerate performance for a certain application at a specific time based on the subscriber request.

Cisco enabled the integration of both push and pull techniques by linking the ISG with the Cisco Service Control Engine over a common bus technology.

The ISG also enables service providers to execute quality of service on a per-subscriber basis through its integrated policy management.

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To meet the processing demands created by adding new services, Cisco also doubled the performance of the 10000 Series and 7200 Series routers in a pair of new routing engines.

The Cisco PRE-3 and NPE-G2 routing engines are intended to process both routing and subscriber management functions. By performing both within existing service provider routing infrastructures, Ciscos aim is to help service providers lower capital equipment costs.

To better enable service providers to add advanced services such as IP TV as well as integrated fixed or mobile services, Cisco also enhanced its Cisco 7600 Series router line.

For IP TV, Cisco added a pair of new software features that can enhance the quality of video on demand services.

The new Multicast Connection Admission Control feature checks to insure there is enough bandwidth available to support all the users requesting channels in a given location at any given time, or to notify subscribers when there isnt.

"MCAC constantly checks for the bandwidth in the network. If its there, itll allow the channel request to come in. If there is no more available bandwidth, itll put a message in front of the subscriber that says We cant give access to this channel at this time. With Video on Demand, a network may be designed for 100 viewers at one time. You want to make sure the network wont be overloaded with different requests," said Shetty.

Cisco also for the first time integrated the Wi-Fi technology it acquired with Airspace into the 7600 Series router line.

The new Cisco 7600 Series Wireless Services Module integrates Wi-Fi access point aggregation into the router to help service providers grow and manage such networks.

By adding such functions early in the growth of the market, Cisco is leading competitors, according to Eve Griliches, research manager for telecom equipment at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

"This is opening up the application space for them. They have the admissions control, multicast—its all there. Its hard to compete against a router vendor that has all those feature sets," she said.

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