Etisalat plans triple play services by 2005

Etisalat is aiming to revamp its core and access networks this year to provide it with the means to deliver triple play services to its business and residential subscribers.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  April 19, 2004

Etisalat is aiming to revamp its core and access networks this year to provide it with more bandwidth and the means to deliver triple play services to its business and residential subscribers. The far-reaching upgrade of its fixed infrastructure will allow the monopoly to offer integrated video, voice and data services across a single network by early 2005. It is also aiming to offer an open interface to application developers to enable them to take advantage of the converged network, which will be capable of delivering IP-based TV broadcasting as well as legacy applications such as high-speed internet and telephony. “We are currently delivering services over different, overlaid networks,” says Saood Al Jenaibi, manager, engineering, cable transmission networks, Etisalat. “Internet access is being delivered over dedicated IP network infrastructure, voice is [being sent] over the public switched telephony network (PSTN), and we have broadcast TV. The next generation IP network will allow us to deliver all of these services in a triple play format over common network infrastructure,” he adds. According to Al Jenabi, Etisalat will start evaluating suppliers for its IP core network this summer. It has been trialling metro Ethernet solutions with various suppliers, including Huawei, for the last six months. While the operator could provide triple play services over its existing DSL and cable access infrastructure, Etisalat may also expand its deployment of fibre optic cables to customer premises, to link up to commercial and housing developments. “We have been deploying more fibre in the access network where there is potential need for high end services,” Al Jenaibi adds. Etisalat has also pledged to open the network to content providers, a move it hopes will foster development of the services that will generate returns on the investment. As reported previously, this would also support the creation of services for the operator's 3G mobile infrastructure, launched in December. “We don’t yet have a control mechanism to deliver or integrate third party services with our network. We currently do that through peer-to-peer connections,” says Al Jenaibi. “Through the service delivery platform (SDP), we plan to implement a managed control platform to connect our partners to our infrastructure, whether to the next generation network (NGN) or 3G. This will support the volume of services required,” he adds. Etisalat is aiming to have the different elements of the SDP ready by the end of this year. It is planning to develop a policy management system for third-parties in-house, to deploy a digital rights management (DRM) system over the next few months, and to have a content management system completed by Q304. Next generation gateways will also be put in place this year to simplify the process of connecting to its network. “We’ve tried to eliminate the complexities of the network and the need to understand different protocols, and plan to provide common application programming interfaces (APIs). The partners will have an online facility where they can define their services and have them validated internally,” Al Jenaibi adds. Etisalat says it has also recruited US communications equipment vendor, Cisco, to provide it with technology to seamlessly integrate the SDP's different components.

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