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The 7300 Advanced Services Access Manager (ASAM) supports IP multicasting, technology that could make it easier for providers to offer streaming media content such as video to their DSL customers.
IP multicasting is a way to handle bandwidth-hungry content more efficiently. "With IP multicasting you don't have to send every customer a separate video stream," said Dan Berninger, an analyst at Pulver.com. "It is a way to put more intelligence into the network."
Matt Davis, senior broadband analyst at The Yankee Group, said the fact that Alcatel is the leading supplier of DSLAM equipment to carriers such as Verizon and SBC makes the introduction of this product significant.
" Alcatel has about a 35% to 40% share of the DSLAM market worldwide, more than anyone else," Davis said. "And Alcatel listens to its customers, so it looks like the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) are getting more serious about offering things like video services."
Briana Gowing, a spokeswoman for Verizon, said the company is actively looking at ways to provide advanced services such as video over DSL. "We want to compete more directly with the cable companies," Gowing said. "We are working with content providers and trying to determine what the best architecture will be for doing this."
The architectural debate is far from settled, according to Berninger. "One side says just increase bandwidth, and, up to now, that camp has won. But the other option is to use technologies like the IP multicasting in Alcatel's new DSLAM to build more intelligence into the network."
Berninger said that carriers such as Verizon tend to favour the second option. "This gives them more control," he explained. "With smarter equipment the carriers can manage the flow of content and charge more for value-added services like video."
The 7300 ASAM also has a new Web-based management tool. "This is primarily aimed at our smaller carrier customers," said Jay Fausch, senior director of marketing at Alcatel. "But large carriers can also use it to access and manage the DSLAM equipment from a remote site outside the central office."
Mitch Strobin, vice-president of marketing at Alcatel, said the new DSLAM helped win another three-year contract with France Telecom. "France Telecom is looking for ways to offer new entertainment services," Strobin said.