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Lots Of Buzz Around Consumer-Oriented Triple-Play Networks

Triple-play services will primarily be aimed at consumers looking to do cool new things with video on their mobile devices.

There was audible buzz around triple-play services at this week's Supercomm 2005 show in Chicago. Service providers are excited about the huge potential of being able to deliver to customers all of their data, voice, and video over a single IP network.

Triple-play services will primarily be targeted at consumers looking to do cool new things with video on their mobile devices. Triple-play is not essential for business-critical applications, and businesses might not deploy triple-play unless they see real value in video applications, industry analysts say.

Even Microsoft is now turning to the triple-play model. The vendor introduced software at Supercomm to help telecom carriers create voice, video, and data services over IP networks. There was plenty of triple-play gear being introduced as well. Computer networking equipment manufacturer ZyXel Communications Corp. rolled out its 5000 Video Phone with all-in-one voice, video, and data capabilities. The vendor also showed off its line of voice-over-IP, ADSL, and VDSL products designed for triple-play services.

Future triple-play applications are going to be aimed at and customized for the individual user, said Tarcisio Ribiero, director of industry segment marketing at Tellabs Inc., during a session at the Supercomm. They will mostly appeal to the "Eco Boomers"--America's biggest consumer group that doesn't know the world without cable TV, video games, and the Internet, Ribiero said.

There's also potential for triple-play apps in education and health care. Service providers envision a world where triple-play would be used for home education, private classes, and recording classroom sessions. They could be used for school monitoring services, where parents would be able to watch how their kids are performing in classes, and even for remote access to libraries.

The convergence of voice, video, and data could lead to the introduction of new services in health care, such as first-aid video assistance for emergency calls, Ribiero said. The same concept can be applied to home security, where companies like ADT Security Services Inc. could deploy home monitoring systems that let them hear and see the situation, Ribiero said.

But there's not much of a business case for triple-play just yet. Businesses make up just a small of portion of the service providers' marketing efforts, says Ron Westfall, principal analyst of broadband infrastructure at research firm Current Analysis. Most businesses still view video as a noncritical application and really don't have use for it, he says. "Although an application like videoconferencing is used by some companies, triple-play is still very much a consumer application," Westfall says.

In fact, even before mass adoption of triple-play services takes place for consumer markets, prices need to be lowered on network and subscriber equipment. Additionally, said Ribiero, more user-friendly interfaces need to be introduced for devices that will feature triple-play, and bandwidth must be significantly higher than what is offered by cable and DSL today.

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