December 12, 2005 10:35 AM PST

Comcast, Cisco and Nortel seek interoperability

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Comcast is partnering with Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks on an initiative to ensure the interoperability of equipment used to build its next-generation broadband and cable television network.

The new Open Transport Initiative was created to improve the interoperability between the transmission of video and data signals traveling over the optical and Internet Protocol network layers. Optical technology provides the physical transmission of data by using lasers that emit light down an optical fiber. Over that optical transmission, the IP layer translates the data throughout the network.

Typically, these two network layers work independently and the devices that switch the light paths in the optical network don?t communicate with the devices that switch and route the IP packets.

Comcast, the largest cable operator in the country, is pushing its vendors to work together as cable operators nationwide beef up transport networks to carry more high-definition video. In a separate announcement Monday, Cisco said Comcast will be deploying its big CRS-1 IP core router, the biggest gun in Cisco's arsenal. That router transports huge amounts of traffic through the network.

"What's driving these upgrades is video-on-demand and high-definition video," said Suraj Shetty, Cisco's marketing director for routing. "The kinds of networks that are needed to meet these requirements (are) different from...in the past. And Comcast is at the forefront of this network evolution."

As Comcast's network gets more complex, the company wants equipment vendors to work together closely to ensure the optical gear operates with the IP equipment.

"This collaboration is a natural and much-needed step in the evolution of network technology and the interoperability of multi-vendor networks," Comcast Chief Technology Officer Dave Fellows said in a statement.

The first step for the Open Transport Initiative is to identify and define common interfaces to integrate Nortel's optical gear with Cisco's IP routers, so Comcast has more flexibility in using its bandwidth.

The companies said they plan to work within standards groups to propose the new interfaces to be open standards so other equipment vendors can build and test equipment to ensure interoperability.

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Will this result in lower prices for Comcast customers?
To answer my own question, I sincerely doubt it. Comcast continually raises its rates even though the cost of broadband technology continues to decline as is the nature of all technology. (It's expensive in the begining but gets less expensive later on as newer technologies are developed and supplies for certain products increase.)

Meanwhile, I'm still paying a hell of a lot of money to be stuck with hundreds of channels that I don't want, and I get spammed constantly due to other Comcast customers who don't have a farging clue what a firewall or a virus-scanner is!

Hey, Comcast, how about putting more effort in things that have a direct impact on your customers - like *requiring* broadband routers and virus scanners, and implementing a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for Comcast customers whose systems become spam zombies?! A la carte programming would be great, too, because I'm sick of having a bazillion sports channels (just to name one category) that I will never watch!

Anyone willing to bet on whether or not any of these will ever be implemented by Comcast? Anyone? Nah, I didn't think so. But they'll have no problems increasing my rates again in the few months, I'm sure.
Posted by JLBer (100 comments )
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HA-HA-HA!!! Great Joke ...
You, of course, are kidding. Comcast? Reduce its costs and pass the savings on to the customer? More like pass the bar of soap in prep for the next rate increase! And, oh, by the way, the soap rents for $4.95 a month :)

It would be nice if we could actually choose what we pay for, but I'm stuck paying for a gazillion channels of ESPN, ancient sucky movie channels, home shopping channels, religious bigot propaganda and fundraising channels, etc., to get the few educational and technology channels I really want. Of course, the cable/media behemoths have put up the smoke screen to the FCC, FTC and Congress (if Pro is the opposite of Con, then Progress is the opposite of Congress! :) that ala carte channel purchasing would be more expensive than the current system of tiers. Oh, but what's this new bit of news? They're going to offer "G-only" packages to families who don't want to pay through the schnozzola for soft-core porn just so they can get all of the family-oriented channels they want. Seems that if you reveal the media conglomerates are big-time investors in the San Fernando porn production and distribution industries, that suddenly gets their attention. Hmmm, I wonder if I pointed out how obscene my cable bill is, whether that would get anyone's attention. Oh, of course not, the news shows are owned by the very same conglomerates. Can't have Peter giving Paul a below-the-belt-job, now can we?

If the cable companies are ever going to drop their prices and/or increase selection to just the channels you want, it will be when it gets very cold in a very warm place instantaneously.

All the Best,
Joe Blow
Posted by Joe Blow (175 comments )
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