Shaw Cablesystems Wednesday said it was rolling out multimedia solutions from Nortel Networks allowing residential broadband subscribers in western Canada to tap services

like advanced voice, video and instant messaging from one vendor.

Shaw’s network includes Nortel’s Multimedia Communication Server (MCS) 5200, a platform enabling enhanced communications regardless of location, access type or media.

Cable companies starting to offer voice-over-IP services to consumers this year must decide which platform to use, explained Jon Arnold, a voice-over-IP program leader at business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan in Toronto.

Shaw’s preferred solution is based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), an industry standard designed to deliver multimedia services like desktop video calling, voice call management, instant messaging, collaboration tools and personalization services.

Shaw aims to offer these along with its high-speed Internet service. Spokespeople from Shaw did not respond to requests for interviews at press time.

Arnold explained SIP, an Internet-based protocol, is text-based and easy to use and upgrade — important features since “”the name of the game in this market is, really, developing applications.””

Dan Mondor, general manager of cable solutions at Nortel, described SIP as the first standard to focus on commercializing multimedia services.

In contrast, the other main industry protocol, H.323, fails to support all the multimedia applications as well as SIP, Arnold said. He said it is, however, especially strong in voice applications.

“”Shaw…can see that the Nortel platform will allow them to do a lot of sexy things,”” said Arnold.

“”Once you have your subscribers using instant messenger over your network, it’s pretty easy now with the SIP-based platform to migrate them on to other services. That’s what creates the stickiness, right?””

Arnold explained Shaw is eager to offer voice services because its local telecom rival, Telus, recently became licenced to offer television to its customer base.

And the Calgary-based cable company intends to break into the voice space via SIP, which is emerging as “”the protocol of choice for multimedia communications in the IP world,”” he said.

Although Shaw has no monopoly on SIP technology, it will have an advantage if it comes to market with a consumer service sooner than its cable or telecom competitors, Arnold explained.

He said Shaw is in an excellent position to woo Telus subscribers, who may not be Shaw cable or high-speed Internet subscribers, with the ability to layer multimedia functions on one platform.

Indeed, multimedia services based on SIP technology can help Shaw boost its brand in western Canada, added Mondor.

Nortel has recently worked with other cable companies. Charter Communications chose Nortel’s MCS platform to give both residential and business customers access to multimedia services independent of location.

Dacom Corp. chose Nortel’s MCS and Succession softswitches for VoIP and multimedia services in South Korea.

Mondor said globally cable operators are in the midst of service deployment or lab and market trials with SIP.


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