Motorola and Nortel Networks last week unveiled solutions for taking cable beyond television, enabling offerings such as voice over IP (VOIP).
The moves were viewed by industry observers as gradually bringing multiservice cable into reality.
VOIP using cable is part of Motorola's announcement of an IP telephony architecture. This multimedia platform will allow for multiple networks - including wired, wireless, satellite, paging, and cable - to communicate with each other over IP, and enable users to make IP telephony calls over any of the multiple networks.
Using technologies from Motorola's Internet and Networking Group and from NetSpeak, Motorola is offering a VOIP/cable modem one-box solution that includes components from Motorola's Vanguard VOIP gateway and Motorola's Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 1.0 cable modem. The solution, called Multimedia Terminal Adapter (MTA-1), will run on a hybrid fibre coaxial cable network and allow a user to attach a conventional phone to the adapter using a phone jack. The MTA-1 will be available in mid-1999. Pricing is not yet available.
Meanwhile, Nortel Networks announced Unified Networks for Cable Systems, a broadband networking solution that will allow cable TV operators to offer voice, video, and IP data to their customers in an integrated package.
Nortel officials explained that the integrated transport network structure will be broken down into four elements: optical networks, broadband cable access, IP switched networks, and integrated network management.
Analysts said they were encouraged by Nortel's and Motorola's incremental advancements in cable systems technology.
"[The] bottom line is cable has more capacity than traditional lines," said Hilary Mine, an analyst at Probe Research, in New Jersey. "Anything you can do over copper, you can do over fibre coax."
"What we're seeing on the cable modem side is the same as on the DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] side, this is more integration of higher-level functionalities," said Daniel Briere, president of TeleChoice, in Boston.