Wave Report 0129 (14-June-01)
The WAVE Report on Digital Media
3D --- Media Creation --- Shared Space
---Published by 4th Wave, Inc.---
The WAVE Report is Searchable on
0129.1 Hot Topics
Robert Sachs Opens Cable 2001
A Short Warning by FCC Commissioner Powell
The Path of Big Returns: We're Making Broadband
0129.2 Story of the Issue
Passive Optical Network (PON) Products Expected to Gain
3D ModelWORKS Debuts a Web Site for Marketing/Selling 3D
Cambridge's Animo 4.0 Provides New Features
Fakespace Announces Sale of Immersive Display Systems
for Energy Resource Exploration
0129.4 Federal Communications Commission
FCC Proposes Amendment to Rules to Facilitate Deployment
of High Speed Wireless Devices
Wi-LAN Gets Green Light From FCC To Sell W-OFDM Products
Cirronet to Deliver Commercial Wireless Last-mile
Product Utilizing FCC Regulation Changes
GSM Reaches Half Billion Landmark
Socket Trials Bluetooth with Japanese Telecom Operator
0129.1 Hot Topics
by Amanda Rogos
***Robert Sachs Opens Cable 2001
The year 2001 marks the NCTA's (National Cable Television
Association) 50th annual convention - the first taking place in
Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1952. Since that time, the industry
has grown to a $48 billion industry and encompasses more than
just television - offering 80 channels of analog video, growing
digital options, movies on demand, and high-speed Internet
service. Recently the networks have also begun to offer
interactive services and telephony.
Robert Sachs, the NCTA's CEO and President estimated that over
the past five years the industry has invested nearly $50 billion
to upgrade more than three-quarters of a million miles of plant
with fiber optics. Sachs claims that this has resulted in more
than 12 million consumer subscriptions to digital cable services.
This is more than 135,000 digital customer installations every
Other initiatives mentioned include Cable in the Classroom, a
service that provides free high-speed Internet to schools and
libraries as well as child, parent and teacher education. And the
industry's cable modem service, which is available to almost 60
million U.S. households. The service has over five million
subscribers and 70,000 more are signing up each week. Lastly
cable's phone services provide one million residential phone
customers with telephony.
The result of these service deployments? According to Sachs it
is, "Fierce competition and rapid growth in this critical sector
of our economy." And citing the success of the 1996
Telecommunications Act, Sachs boasted that rate deregulation has
enabled the industry to invest billions in technology,
programming and customer care, bringing competitive choices to
In light of the fact that the NCTA show features a host of public
policy sessions and is attended by many government
representatives, he finished on a hopeful note, saying that in
his view, "Public policy makers understand that cable is very
different than it was a decade ago. And most understand that we
face strong competition in every facet of our business. As
importantly, there is a growing recognition that our industry is
the leader in making broadband happen."
By John Latta
Put in another way - we invested a lot of money in an uncertain
business, please help us protect it. And as the FCC Commissioner
stated (A Short Warning by FCC Commissioner Powell), put in
another way - do not expect to get any help from me and there are
areas where you need to clean up you act. These are the dynamics
of regulated telecommunications. Each side jockeying for favor
with the other in a continually changing technology and political
landscape. In the end the cable industry cannot rely on politics
and it must deliver value to consumers. Hard lesson for them to
***A Short Warning by FCC Commissioner Powell
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Michael Powell spoke briefly (very
briefly) at Cable 2001's keynote session. During his presentation
he seemed to have two goals - one to issue a warning to the cable
industry about possible regulatory retaliation if they did not
preserve choice, partner with, not fight programmers and service
partner initiatives, and keep prices reasonable. And two, to
disguise the fact that his presentation held a warning.
To this effect he compared the history of the cable industry to a
fairy tale. Early in its history the industry was widely
perceived as the toad of the communications sector - regulatory
policy was hostile due to its view that cable was a dangerous
upstart that threatened the broadcast industry, Wall street was
not enamored by the heavy debt funding, and consumers were less
than satisfied due to rising prices and decreasing quality.
Recently though, a "digital kiss" was placed on this toad - IP
networks and digitization began to move cable to center stage.
Powell claimed that due to technological advances video has risen
to new levels; offering expanded programming channels, increased
choice, VOD, and interactive television. In addition advanced
broadband services are being rolled as we speak. Powell even
stated that some industry observers believe these broadband
services may be as significant to the economy as were electricity
and the telephone system.
To back up these claims Powell gave the following statistics:
Spending on Infrastructure
$2.2billion $12.4bil 2000
Growth of national cable networks
The Commissioner then moved on to the task at hand stating,
"Sadly with the history of this industry we must ask. Will it
In his eyes, the answer will depend on the industry's "ability to
manage change and address the anxieties that arise when a market
has a clear competitive edge." Clearly a warning, especially when
followed with a numbered list of items "to watch for."
Digital television transition
Powell urged the cable industry to become a productive partner
not an obstacle to the broadcasters' transition. (Editorial
comment: A hint at the recent must carry debate?)
Program access/vertical market power
Cable should be a digital gateway and not misuse their power to
prevent programmers from getting to consumers. (Editorial
comment: This is the same old common carriage argument put in a
different way - Powell is using it to support customers, very
Preserving variety and choice will be essential to this market
Powell suggested that consumer value must remain high, warning
that price, the amount of choice and quality are problems that
call for government action. (Editorial comment: A not very veiled
threat about rising prices?)
Powell ended by claiming that for the industry to succeed without
government "help," choice in telephone service, diversity of
information, news and entertainment are needed. And reverting
back to his fairy tale beginning, he concluded by saying, "It is
a challenge worthy of a prince." Nice cover.
***The Path of Big Returns: We're Making Broadband Happen
During a panel session at the Cable show, representatives from
the cable, network and enterprise markets discussed investments,
the future of interactive television, VOD and the fate of
advertising in this new market. Since the discussion was so wide-
ranging we have organized this article by topic.
CEO Lifetime Entertainment Services - Carole Black
President A&E Television Networks - Nickolas Davatzes
President & CEO AT&T Broadband - Dan Somers
Senior VP Microsoft TV Division - Jon DeVaan
President & CEO Wink Communication - Maggie Wilderotter
President Insight Communications - Michael Willner
Microsoft Investment in AT&T and Broadband
According to Jon DeVaan, Microsoft is a software company and does
not want to own wires or content. Instead, the company will use
their investment ability to help foster this part of the economy
due to the fact that as broadband networks expand, software will
be needed to drive the services. Toward this goal, the company is
a strategic partner with several companies providing interactive
TV and set-top box products - AT&T being one of them.
When asked about AT&T's recent announcement about downsizing to a
simpler version of the interactive-television service it has been
developing with Microsoft, DeVaan claimed that although progress
has been slow the company is not rethinking their investment
decisions. On the other hand, the company believes that because
these initiatives are on the forefront of the industry, some
things go right and some go wrong - and that is normal.
As background, AT&T and Microsoft had reached a deal under which
Microsoft invested $5 billion to provide software for TV set-top
boxes that would deliver high-speed Internet access, digital TV
and telephone service. AT&T market research recently indicated,
though, that consumers weren't ready for many of the planned
advanced features. Analysts believe that the move could also be a
cost-saving measure to prepare for the company's restructuring
effort (to split AT&T Broadband into a stand-alone company).
Wink Communication's Maggie Wilderotter stated that she believes
the technology is often too far ahead of the consumer, which has
slowed the industry down. Today set-top boxes offer 200-300
channels, an electronic program guide, some interactive
television, and modem/Internet access, and she believes that
consumers may need to get comfortable with those services before
more are introduced.
Another panelist mentioned that behavior modification will take
some time - the mouse and touch screen were invented over 25
years ago and although the mouse has become an integral part of
computer use, the touch screen still has not been readily
adopted. The industry's big hope lies in the changing demographic
of the country, the panelist said, the younger generation, which
is more adaptable.
Nick Davatzes said the A&E Network is moderately invested in
interactive services. Specifically, their History IQ show offers
an interactive version in which viewers can play along. Davatzes
estimates that 50,000 viewers have participated at any one time
by logging onto their computers to watch/play along with the show
online. At this point the game is free and A&E has not plans for
a service fee at this time.
Video-on-Demand or Video-on-Delay
Michael Willner, President of Insight Communications believes
(contrary to the moderator) that Hollywood has concerns about
their business model, but are still very interested in VOD. He
claims that there are negotiations in progress due to the fact
that at the end of the day if a customer has the choice between
buying a movie on cable vs. driving to Blockbuster they will
choose television - and Hollywood will benefit.
AT&T Broadband's President & CEO, Dan Somers claimed that they
have a very big PPV business yet they lag video stores by 3-6
months for releases. Therefore in his mind VOD will be a huge
success because it will not only give more control to the viewer
with movies, it will also allow them to purchase missed episodes
and tournaments from regular television. He also suggests that
when the cable industry has 12-15 million homes connected it will
only be a matter of time until Hollywood studios are negotiating
with the industry.
According to Davatzes, A&E is in negotiations with several MSOs
(Multiple System Operator) to make their biography programs (a
library of about 900) available for specialized
products/services. He predicts that the network will release
these services in second half of 2001 with at least one MSO.
PVRs (Personal Video Recorders) and Advertising
Carole Black, CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services believes
that advertisers are going to have to be more creative to succeed
with the advent of PVRs. For example, Coke has placed cans of
Diet Coke in scenes of the cable show "The Sopranos" - on a
noncommercial network - to get viewers. Lifetime has pledged to
work more closely with their advertisers to give them the
environment they need to sell their products creatively - to
increase product revenues and to sustain advertising support.
@Home - Trouble?
Dan Somers claimed that although the site has gone through a
difficult time, it is due to the explosion of the dot come arena
and the reduction is capital that has resulted. @Home has secured
$100 million in financing, and AT&T has been discussing
outsourcing or backbone agreements with the company to help it
Recently their leadership has changed (8 weeks old) and since
then they have begun to strategically look at their focus to see
if a change is needed. Somers estimated that AtHome currently has
1.3 million customers of high-speed service.
0129.2 Story of the Issue
***Passive Optical Network (PON) Products Expected to Gain Market
A report by telecom market research firm RHK shows the North
American optical access market for broadband digital loop
carriers (BB-DLCs), business passive optical networks (PONs), and
residential fiber in the loop (FITL) will reach $3.8 billion by
2004, climbing from $2.65 billion in 2000. Driving this growth
will be the PON business market, projected to grow at a CAGR of
380% during the 2000-2004 forecast period.
This growth is attributed to service providers looking to replace
copper-based T1 services and provide fiber-based value-added
network services to the business market using IP technologies. As
PON/FITL technologies are deployed, RHK expects the market for
current BB-DLC offerings to diminish.
The report shows that while the market for BB-DLC products is
expected to grow at a CAGR of 5%, from $2.6 billion in 2000 to
$3.2 billion in 2004, this growth rate has been, and will
continue to be, impacted by the increasing deployment of access
fiber in service provider networks.
RHK's "DLC and PON Technology and Market Report," published in
June 2001, is part of the company's Access Network Systems North
American service, which explores the technologies, market forces,
and emerging factors that drive the access network market.
***3D ModelWORKS Debuts a Web Site for Marketing/Selling 3D
3D ModelWORKS introduces a secure forum on the Internet, for 3D
modelers to market and sell their models. Modelers are not forced
to sign exclusivity agreements, own all intellectual property
rights to their models and pay a monthly fee.
Visitors can view models in 3D before purchasing through the use
of 3D ModelWORKS secure 3D viewer. The 3D ModelWORKS viewer
allows customers to rotate, zoom in and control any moving or
articulated parts of the models. Customers can search the library
of models by category or keyword search and may also post a
request for a custom model not found in the library. All requests
are available to member modelers who may then contact the
customer through the form provided.
Modelers register and begin to use 3D ModelWORKS for an initial
set-up fee of $29.00 and then pay a monthly fee of $11.00. They
can choose to have customers contact them directly to arrange
payment, or they can use the 3D ModelWORKS Financial Transaction
Service (FTS) program for a percentage of each sale. The FTS
handles all online sales, including credit card validation,
delivery of the model to the buyer and forwarding payment to the
***Cambridge's Animo 4.0 Provides New Features
Cambridge Animation Systems has introduced Animo 4.0 with
Macromedia Flash output, extra features and improved performance.
The Animo cartoon animation system has an installed base of 3,000
seats in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Cambridge's implementation of Flash output allows users to take
advantage of the power of Animo's scene graph, exposure sheet,
drawing window, filters and effects to create quality animations.
Controls such as disabling filter nodes and disabling animation
of any bitmap image will be available to reduce the sizes of
Flash files for the low bandwidth of the Internet.
Users of Animo 4.0's Flash output will have independent control
of ink lines and painted regions, as well as control over the
color, width and generation of ink lines.
Animo 4.0 also optimizes Flash files so that playback can begin
as soon as possible.
Other features in Animo 4.0 include:
VectorEditor - This module edits vectorized drawings that are
used for Flash output, but can also be applied in traditional
scenes to achieve a different line style.
Off-peg scanning - Registration of scanned drawings with support
for flatbed scanning without the use of a pegbar.
TWAIN scanning - Animo scanning applications (ScanLevel,
ScanBackground and PencilTester) will support TWAIN scanner
drivers as well as ISIS.
Color line scanning - Drawings can be scanned in color to provide
line-color information for ink-and-paint applications.
Lip-syncing in SoundBreakdown - interactive replay of phonetic
breakdowns for animators to use their own head and mouth
Animo 4.0 will be available in June.
***Fakespace Announces Sale of Immersive Display Systems for
Energy Resource Exploration
Fakespace Systems has announced four contracts to provide
immersive displays to organizations involved in energy resource
exploration. The sales, to commercial oil and gas companies and
universities, mark an increased acceptance of the value of
visualization for seismic data analysis and subsurface
Fakespace Systems signed on to provide visualization systems to
Phillips Petroleum, Petrobras, Norwegian University of Science
and Technology, and the University of Oklahoma. These include a
range of displays that are used by geologists, geophysicists, and
engineers to promote collaboration and better understanding of
data, ranging from fully-immersive room environments to depth-
enhanced displays that fit in an average size conference room.
Since January 2001, Phillips Petroleum has taken delivery of five
conCAVE displays from Fakespace Systems for use at its facilities
in Bellaire, Texas, Stavanger and Tananger, Norway, and
Anchorage, Alaska. The conCAVE, which enables multidisciplinary
teams to work with spatially correct, "standing in the tunnel"
visualizations, was originally developed by Phillips and is
licensed to Fakespace Systems. The company was also contracted by
Phillips to develop a volumetric mapping and interaction software
API for the conCAVE environment. The API, called Avignon, has
been made available to selected oil/gas software developers for
integration into their applications later this year.
The University of Oklahoma, which has strong research and
educational programs in the earth sciences, has also purchased a
conCAVE display and CubicMouse interaction device for its School
of Geology and Geophysics. The conCAVE will be used for 3D
seismic interpretation, 3D geologic and petrophysical modeling,
and other applications in the earth sciences.
Petrobras, headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, also took
delivery of a Fakespace Systems visualization system earlier this
year. The company purchased an ImmersaDesk R2 stereoscopic
display driven by a Silicon Graphics Onyx2 for use in the
development of exploration technology that reduces risk and
optimizes exploitation. This transportable system offers a four-
ft. by five-ft. rear-projected screen that can be adjusted from
horizontal to nearly vertical.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is a center
for technological education and research located in Trondheim,
Norway. One area of focus for research at the university is data
visualization and numerical analysis for the localization and
recovery of petroleum resources. The university boasts a digital
laboratory with geodata and production data from the Gullfaks
field in the North Sea, which is used for both teaching and
research. Projects often include commercial partners such as
Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Shell, TotalFinaElf, BP and Enterprise.
To better leverage the value of the software and data stored at
the digital laboratory the university contracted with Fakespace
Systems to custom design and install a RAVE(tm) (Reconfigurable
Advanced Visualization Environment). The RAVE is a large-scale
modular system that supports multiple viewing modalities
including immersive room environments, flat wall displays, angled
theaters, and a variety of other configurations. In June,
Fakespace Systems completed the installation of three RAVE
modules at NTNU, each with an eight-ft. by eight-ft. rear-
projected viewing surface..
0129.4 Federal Communications Commission
***FCC Proposes Amendment to Rules to Facilitate Deployment of
High Speed Wireless Devices
In May the FCC proposed to revise its rules for spread spectrum
systems to reduce the amount of spectrum that must be used for
frequency hopping spread spectrum systems operating in the 2.4
GHz band (2400-2483.5 MHz), and to eliminate the processing gain
requirement for direct sequence spread spectrum systems (FCC 01-
158). It also proposed to allow new digital transmission
technologies to operate pursuant to the same rules as spread
spectrum systems. With these actions, the Commission hopes to
facilitate the continued development and deployment of wireless
devices for businesses and consumers.
Two types of spread spectrum are permitted to operate on a non-
licensed basis under Part 15 of the rules. Frequency hopping
spread spectrum systems spread their energy by changing, or
"hopping," the center frequency of the modulated signal. In
direct sequence spread spectrum systems, the information data
stream is combined with a high-speed digital spreading code to
produce a signal with a relatively wide bandwidth. In both cases,
the spreading reduces the power density of the signal at any
frequency over the transmitted bandwidth, thereby reducing the
probability of causing interference to other signals occupying
Other digital technologies have been developed that have spectrum
characteristics similar to spread spectrum systems, but cannot be
authorized under the current rules because the rules limit
operation only to spread spectrum systems. The Commission
proposed to remove this restriction. This proposal would provide
the flexibility needed to promote the introduction of non-
interfering products, without the need for frequent rules changes
to address each specific technology that may be developed.
In conjunction with the above proposal, the Commission also
granted a blanket interim waiver to allow digital technologies
that meet the existing rules for direct sequence spread spectrum
systems to obtain FCC equipment certification prior to the
adoption of final rules in this proceeding, with a maximum peak
power limit of 100 mW. At the same time, it affirmed a staff
decision denying the application for equipment certification for
a Wideband Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing system
filed by Wi-LAN, but directed the staff to consider the
application pursuant to the provisions of the interim waiver.
The commission did however, grant an interim waiver to allow Wi-
LAN's equipment and similar devices from other manufacturers to
be certified at reduced power levels during the pendency of the
***Wi-LAN Gets Green Light From FCC To Sell W-OFDM Products in
Wi-LAN Inc, a provider of high-speed wireless data/Internet
communications, announced that at an open commission meeting, the
FCC ruled that Wi-LAN's W-OFDM technology will be authorized for
use in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band.
This interim waiver has been granted to Wi-LAN to permit the sale
and use of W-OFDM products in the United States while the FCC
reviews proposed changes to the rules affecting spread spectrum
devices in the 2.4 GHz band.
This waiver sets aside previous rulings by the FCC Office of
Engineering and Technology denying certification to Wi-LAN of the
W-OFDM technology. The original certification application by Wi-
LAN in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band had been denied by
the FCC on the basis that OFDM technology did not meet the
specified definitions of a "spread spectrum system" or a "direct
sequence system" and therefore did not meet the intent of the FCC
rules. The current ruling will give Wi-LAN approval to sell and
distribute the product in the 50 U.S. states, the District of
Columbia and all U.S. territories regulated by the FCC.
By increasing spectral efficiency, W-OFDM technology uses less
bandwidth and thus alleviates congestion in the increasingly
crowded 2.4 GHz band. Wi-LAN's W-OFDM products have already been
certified for use in the 2.4 GHz band by the relevant regulatory
bodies in both Europe and Canada.
***Cirronet to Deliver Commercial Wireless Last-mile Product
Utilizing FCC Regulation Changes
Cirronet, a broadband wireless Internet access equipment company,
has introduced a last-mile broadband wireless product to take
advantage of the FCC regulation channel width changes in the 2.4
GHz band. The FCC Part 15 regulation amendment, dated August 31,
2000, increased the accessible channel size from 1 MHz to 5 MHz
for frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technologies in the
license-free 2.4 GHz band.
This amendment enabled Cirronet to apply value engineering to its
broadband wireless equipment for enhanced near-line-of-sight
(NLOS) connections and improved throughput speeds. Cirronet's
WaveBolt product family is designed for deployment in the
residential and small business Internet access market.
WaveBolt was developed based on ISPs' requests for an affordable,
robust and high-speed wireless access product priced under $400
per subscriber, including installation and amortized base
station. Cirronet's media access controller (MAC) layer increases
WaveBolt's robustness. It is engineered with flexibility to work
with the wider hopping channels approved by the FCC. Cirronet,
applying these regulation changes, will increase WaveBolt's
bandwidth to 1.8MHz--balancing the higher throughput with
improved receive sensitivity.
Cirronet uses FHSS technology as the foundation for its wireless
data products. FHSS is a technology utilized in license-free
frequency bands to overcome interference issues. Known for its
range, immunity to jamming and multipath fading, bandwidth,
networking features and ease of use, FHSS allows the data to work
around noise or interference. The network "hops" randomly and
quickly through channels. Transmission interference on one
channel is eliminated within milliseconds with a `hop' onto the
next channel. These features make the technology ideal for near-
line-of-sight wireless Internet access in the residential and
small business markets.
The WaveBolt product family is a point-to-multipoint fixed
broadband wireless system. The WaveBolt subscriber unit-
integrating a microwave antenna, radio and modem--is packaged as
a small, hand-size device and is designed for easy mounting and
connection, without opening a PC. Avoiding complicated in-home
installations, the WaveBolt system uses the dial-up networking
routines that are part of Microsoft Windows to establish an
always-on subscriber connection, eliminating the need for truck
roll. Designed for adverse industrial conditions, the CPE
maintains a NLOS connection with the ISP access point. Operating
in the license-free 2.4 GHz band and approved by the FCC and
ETSI, the system's FHSS technology also provides immunity from
potential jamming sources as well as security from eavesdropping.
***GSM Reaches Half Billion Landmark
More than half a billion GSM mobile phones are now in use
worldwide, according to figures released by the GSM Association.
GSM technology, which allows mobile users to roam to more than
168 countries making and receiving calls on one handset and with
one global number, now accounts for more than 70% of the world's
digital mobile phones. The three other digital technologies
combined account for the remaining 30%. This market share is
expected to grow with 3G systems, as more than 85% are expected
to be 3GSM/ W-CDMA.
Nearly 40% of all GSM customers are outside of Europe, reflecting
the increasing globalisation of GSM. In fact, the largest single
country GSM population is China with some 82.4 million customers.
GSM in the Americas is also expanding. There are more than 10
million GSM phones in North America. AT&T Wireless, Rogers
Wireless' and other operators' recent decision to overlay digital
TDMA network with GSM services is expected to lead to a surge in
GSM usage across the USA. Meanwhile in Latin America, decisions
by countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Mexico to adopt
GSM are predicted to see a tenfold increase in GSM users in Latin
America during the next 12-18 months.
The GSM Association is a wireless industry representative body,
consisting of more than 535 second and third generation wireless
network operators, manufacturers and suppliers. The Association
is responsible for the deployment and evolution of the GSM family
of technologies (GSM, GPRS, EDGE and 3GSM) for digital wireless
The Association recently announced the creation of a Mobile
Services Initiative (M-Services), an industry movement to enhance
benefits to consumers using GSM handsets by delivering a set of
services, globally available through the mobile Internet.
Manufacturers such as Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Sagem,
Samsung and Siemens have announced support of the M-Services
***Socket Trials Bluetooth with Japanese Telecom Operator
Socket Communications has announced that its Bluetooth
CompactFlash Cards were used as part of a trial of Bluetooth
wireless technology by NTT, Japan's largest telecom operator, in
partnership with Sumitomo. The cards were a component of a
location-based system, including navigation that was tested in an
Osaka shopping arcade. This trial was designed to demonstrate
Bluetooth connectivity between handheld devices and LAN Access
Points. NTT West is planning to implement similar networks based
on Bluetooth in other locations in Japan.
The Socket Bluetooth Card is a plug-in card that fits in a
CompactFlash slot or, via an adapter, the PC Card slot of a
mobile computer, offering a way to add wireless connectivity to
other Bluetooth-enabled devices within a range of 10 meters (30
feet). Socket's card is currently available to application
developers as part of Socket's Bluetooth Card Evaluation Kit.
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