Los Angeles -- With deployments of standards-based cable
modems well under way, vendors have started to push self-provisioning and other solutions
expected to kick the rollouts into high gear.
Major vendors -- including Motorola Inc., Nortel Networks
Corp. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. -- have introduced or demonstrated
systems meant to allow consumers to bring home a standards-based cable modem, plug it in
and activate service as easily as they can with such dial-up Internet-service providers as
America Online Inc.
"If the coax is there, it is totally provisioned and
truck-roll free," said Steve Pusey, president of Nortel's recently formed Cable Media
Solutions business unit, of the company's Cornerstone Cable Provisioning System 2000.
Although North American cable-modem ISPs are turning on
thousands of new subscribers daily, most analysts and operators believe that MSOs won't be
able to fully exploit the red-hot demand for broadband service unless customers can
install and activate their modem without a costly visit from a cable technician.
Cisco Systems Inc. introduced its solution, the Cisco
Subscriber Registration Center, several months ago, and other vendors are flocking to meet
this operator demand.
Toshiba's solution is self-installation software, available
in the first quarter, that supports auto-provisioning of its PCX1000 DOCSIS (Data Over
Cable Service Interface Specification) 1.0 and PCX1100 DOCSIS 1.1-designed cable modems.
Toshiba America vice president of business development Fred Berry said the software
functioned as a "wizard" program. The "wizard" provides the new
subscriber with interactive step-by-step instructions for installing their modem,
automatically configures the TCP/IP network connection and verifies the modem's connection
to the cable ISP over the HFC network.
Self-activation is supported by an interface that
automatically links the subscriber to their cable ISP's own auto-provisioning Web site,
Berry told a press briefing at last week's Western Show.
Nortel said its solution, created with partner DST Innovis
(formerly CableData Inc.), is the industry's first complete Internet-based customer care
solution for modems and cable-modem termination systems (CMTS) based on the DOCSIS
The provisioning system works with DST's CyberCSR software
to enable the self-registration process and interface with the company's customer-care and
Motorola Inc. outlined several self-provisioning
initiatives, including the first demonstration of a solution that enables subscriber
self-provisioning and self-activation. The system, created with several partners such as
Portal and Lucent Technologies Inc., interfaces either with Portal's real-time billing
system or with operator legacy systems from major service providers such as CableData or
A key element of the solution is the so-called
"Conexon" mediation device from partner Interactive Enterprises, which routes
the media-access controller (MAC) address from a new subscriber's cable modem to the
various servers that need it to activate service.
Motorola said it has already deployed the system with
French cable operator Numericable, which uses it as a customer service
representative-based provisioning solution.
Motorola also announced a partnership with Redback Networks
Inc. -- a broadband-subscriber-management system maker -- to provide end-to-end
provisioning solutions aimed at reducing activation time for new cable modem subscribers.
The companies demonstrated a process that uses DOCSIS cable
modems, Motorola's cable router and the Redback Subscriber Management System to enable
subscriber self-provisioning and the selection of service packages, including different
Modem security was another product niche that attracted
solutions. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. introduced a spin-off company, SofaWare
Technologies, to adapt CheckPoint's "Stateful Inspection" technology for home
Redwood City, Calif.-based CheckPoint said the planned
"HomeSecure" product would be embedded in cable and digital-subscriber-line
modems, providing a residential Internet-security firewall that would not require software
installs or configuration beyond the modem installation. CheckPoint said future versions
would support virtual private networks and Quality of Service (QOS) for bandwidth
Just before the show, Nortel announced its entry into the
cable-modem security arena: "SecureCable," a network-based, mass-market oriented
firewall solution from its Shasta IP Services division.
Among other cable modem related announcements at the
Western Show, Com21 Inc. said it is working with Tdsoft to create new cable-telephony
solutions based on the V5.2 public-switched-telephone network (PSTN) standard for markets
outside of North America.
The companies plan to create broadband-access voice service
solutions using Herzlia, Israel-based Tdsoft's VoNGATE voice access gateway and Com21's
ComUNITY Access cable-telephony system. The alliance would enable toll-quality voice and
broadband data access as a single, integrated service leveraging existing PSTN
infrastructures, the companies said.
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