Class Qs: Skype in the Upstream; Cloudiness; VoLTE
by Leslie Ellis // October 10 2011
Nothing like teaching a class about the transition to everything over IP (Internet Protocol) to keep you on your toes, translation-wise.
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 doing something different with theirs, given their 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?
Last one first: VoLTE stands for “Voice over Long Term Evolution,” where “LTE” is that get-funky mobile euphemism for wireless broadband. LTE was developed for broadband, and as such is oriented for IP-based data services.
So, putting voice over LTE isn’t as 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 a perch in front of the laptop. (No way to walk them out to see the beehive, but that’s ok.)
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.
Operators historically and deliberately haven’t attempted to stuff video upstream. Simple reason: 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 just the phone on/open, when you’ve said goodbye.
Two, the signaling and codecs involved are designed to be mindful of bandwidth. Meaning, 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. Which means for some period of time, you’ll either need two of everything, or have three of the thing you don’t need.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.