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Integrated Broadband Communications on Broadcast Networks

Objective

To identify the broadband communication needs of residential and SME users.
To identify key residential applications.
To initiate longer term R&D into the IBC needs of the cable sector and to create a centre of excellence (EuroCableLabs) to take over the identification of future requirements for local and regional cable networks.
The completion of the research into digital audio-video coding, the use of TCP/IP over ATM cable networks and lower level standards needed for cable modems.
A set of applications suitable for residential and SME users for deliver over a cable network which are viable for implementation on Broadband networks.
The plans and strategy for the implementation of trials of broadband symmetrical services.
The definition of the set-top and local access platforms.
The initiation of the EuroCableLabs to cover the strategic research needs of the cable sector.
Expected Impact
The project will ease the communication needs of residential users, including older, impaired and disadvantaged people, and those in isolated communities; of SMEs and in healthcare, education and local government institutions. It will provide the basis of the universal IBC service.
It will carry out the verification of applications such as video-telephony, that are desired and affordable to these users through the provision of economic priced high speed data services based applications.
It will establish a means for conducting the '10 Projects' of the Bangemann Report in 1999 in the areas of Teleworking, Distance Learning, Telematics Services for SMEs, Health Care Network, Trans-European Public Administration Network and City Information Highways.
The trials will support increased social and economic cohesion in Europe by providing a means for face-to-face communications between the home of citizens across the Union States.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
Symmetrical broadband services on cable networks in Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal and Russia; a 40 GHz IP LMDS test-bed in UK and multi- vendor inter-operability verification of Euromodems.
Contribution to the programme
Acceleration of the introduction of interactive Broadband Services on cable networks suitable for Residential Users including videotelephony-based care services for older citizens.

Technical Approach
Module I - maintains the technical focus of the project through a Steering Group comprising Cable Operators, which reviews the results and plans of the project.
Module II - implements the pilots of videotelephony based applications. The results of the pilots influence the programme of activities in Modules III & IV.
Module III - defines, implements, tests and builds the kit for the experiments. These are operated on cable networks and are evaluated. The results are used to set-up the trials which are operated after the end of the project.
Module IV - identifies the longer term R&D activities to be undertaken and initiates those of the highest priority in co-operation with the Steering Group.
Module V - agrees the mission and constitution of the labs with the Cable Operators and obtains early letters of interest from them. The way of operation and its location are agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding ready for initiation.
Summary of Trial
The experiments of IBCoBN are conducted to validate the applications and technology for the trials. The experiments involve symmetrical services and in particular 2 Mbps video-telephony and WWW access, using either ATM or high-speed LAN/Ethernet solutions. The cable operators are building into their future plans the possibility of providing immediate symmetrical broadband services trials for their residential and SME customers. In general, the project plans to use cable modems which provide 25.6 Mbps to the user with a 3 Mbps (2 Mbps payload) return path from the User. An ATM switch is provided at the Head-End. Cable Modems are expected to be an interim solution until a critical mass of broadband subscribers is achieved and the future reduced cost of the ATM switch allows a full symmetrical connection directly from the switch to the subscriber.
Kortrijk (Belgium) uses the adapted mature Cable TV network (311,000 subscribers) to offer an upgraded Telecare application for older citizens of Kortrijk, a tourism application connecting hotels and tourist offices and the interconnecting of town halls.
In Germany, MKS will trial Teletraining, Teleworking, Collaborative working and Teleconferencing services applications on their cable networks in Mixdorf (200 homes) and Eisenhüttenstadte (15,000 homes) interlinked by the EWE utility companies optical fibre network and also interlinked to the Cottbus cable network.
In Lisbon, TV Cabo Portugal (933,000 homes/180,000 Subscribers) will locate their experiment on the TV Cabo-Lisboa network. The cable network provides connections between local institutions and homes. It will also be linked with Aveiro and Cruz Quebrada by ATM connections and to the TV Cabo-Vale de Tajo network. EXPO '98 is also connected and provides a platform to demonstrate the videotelephony applications to visiting VIPs.
In the UK, ECMS (150,000 homes) will operate, in their East Grinstead franchise (30,500 homes), videotelephony services/applications:- Home Working, Remote Experts, Distance Learning, Medical and Special Needs Applications, Wardening and Surveillance; and Server Services:- Video on Demand, Home Shopping, Traffic, Travel & Hotels, Classified Ads and Jobs.
In Spain, the applications of videotelephony between residential users and community service applications are under experiment on the cable networks of Zaragoza de Cable (18,000 homes) and Sevilla de Cable.
In France, the network of RCF (250,000 homes) in Valenciennes is being used for the pilot and the experiment.
A test-bed is being set-up to operate symmetrical services in St. Petersburg (Russia) on the cable network of Pyramid-TVX (20,000 homes) under the auspices of the Rubin Institute.
Key Issues
New markets and new applications are needed to drive the introduction of IBC. The cable networks have to be adapted using robust and flexible technologies for symmetrical two way broadband applications and a set-top has to be provided that turns the TV set into an easy-to-use broadband communication terminal.
Videotelephony is a service which can easily accommodate many applications and many application providers. It is a service that puts high requirements on the network and communications equipment and will, therefore, introduce a high performance environment suitable to run a variety of broadband services.
IBCoBN has to rely on the market place for affordable broadband terminals (videoconferencing equipment and work stations/PCs are currently too expensive and too complicated for the residential market).
The creation of eight demonstration sites in markets with 250 Million homes is to encourage manufacturers to provide consumer priced equipment for broadband services for the wider market including Eastern Europe and for cable operators to exploit the project results and accelerate the introduction of broadband services to the residential market.
Progress
The project formally joined DAVIC in February 1996 and leads the work in a DAVIC workgroup (as a full member) and other relevant bodies. The questionnaire used to characterise cable networks in the project caused the early adoption of standards for delay sensitive communicative broadband services (IEEE 802.14). In addition, as DAVIC is unlikely to align with IEEE 802.14 to produce a single standard, IBCoBN has worked to minimise the small differences between the DAVIC and DVB specifications. It has materially assisted their rapid development such that deployment of non-distribution services on cable TV networks is already becoming a more economic proposition.
The work for the pilots has clarified the hardware issues for the experiments.
The specification of the set-top, the network access and head-end management systems are completed and form the reference specification for the supply of material to the experiments.
The Steering Group consisting of eight cable operators external to the project, concluded that work areas for IBCoBN were well chosen and do not need significant change for the future work plan.
The indicative shortage of personnel to conduct R&D has confirmed the urgency for the creation of EuroCableLabs in order to optimise the use of the cable TV sector's very scarce engineering resources. We now have a policy and a draft mission statement and the lab will strengthen the cable sector for European manufacturers. In Russia, the CIS laboratory for the EuroCableLabs has been formed inside the Rubin Institute. A joint action being organised with the CATVDC project promotes the EuroCableLabs at a round table discussion at EuroCable '97.
In a very fast evolving sector, the project is still on course to achieve its objectives of bringing symmetrical broadband telecommunication services to the residents of Europe. The original objective "to implement Integrated Broadband Communications on Broadcast Networks" remains a feasible and desirable goal.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Northwold Systems & Services Ltd (NSSL)
Address
47A Fore Street
IP13 9DD Framlingham
United Kingdom

Participants (12)

BioIngenieria Aragonesa S. L.
Spain
Daltek AB
Sweden
European Convergent Management Systems Ltd
United Kingdom
Gaselwest SA
Belgium
Gillam SA
Belgium
Integan CV
Belgium
Interaction Design Limited
United Kingdom
MKS
Germany
NV Castel
Netherlands
Nortel Technology
United Kingdom
Portugal Telecom
Portugal
Rubin Research Institute
Russia