Some Class Qs on IP

a class about the
transition to everything
over IP (Internet
protocol) to keep you
on your toes, translation-

What’s top of
mind about IP in a
classroom full of
cable people at this
moment in time? For starters, that skinny
little upstream path and whether Comcast
is doing something different with it, given
its work on video-Skyping via the TV.

Lots of questions, too, about what all
ultimately goes into “the cloud.”

And, my personal favorite, because it’s
easiest to answer: What is VoLTE?

Answer: Voice Over Long-Term Evolution,
where “LTE” is that get-funky mobile
euphemism for wireless broadband. LTE
was developed for broadband and is oriented
for IP-based data services.

So, putting voice over LTE isn’t as
much of a no-brainer as you’d think, even
though mobile as an industry grew up on
voice as its bread and butter.

From a consumer angle, Comcast’s
work with Skype is imaginable: Wave
to the nieces from a perch in front of
the TV, instead of in front of the laptop.
As for Comcast’s upstream signal
boundaries,they’re no different than the
rest of the industry: a mean little swish of
spectrum located between 5-42 MHz.

MSOs historically and deliberately
haven’t attempted to stuff video upstream.
Why? Not enough room. Will the
blobbish-ness of video-Skyping clog it up?

According to the engine-room talent
working on it, there are two things to keep
in mind here. First, there’s a beginning
and an end to a phone call. Unlike TV, you
don’t usually leave the phone on or open
after you’ve said goodbye.

Two, the signaling and codecs involved
are designed to be mindful of
bandwidth. This means that Skype in the
upstream is not like that swell surveillance
camera on sale from Acme Camera,
which only does full-motion JPEG
at 5.5 Mbps upstream (because it’s
cheaper! And bandwidth is free!).

About the cloud, and what all goes up
there: maybe not everything, but close.

Remember that cable innately is a
cloud — an intelligent network that relays
entertainment, information and communications
back and forth to homes. Watch
for cloud storage (think network DVR), and
cloud guide (think iPad app), and the business
logic and databases of “the back
office,” in the cloud. Identity management,
parental controls. Voice mail and email
already sit in the cloud for the most part.

We are entering the kitchen sink
phase, friends, for clouds and gateways.
This is a transition, a marriage of households.
That means for some period of
time, you’ll either need two of everything,
or have three of the thing you don’t need.

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