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[November 4, 2005]

Time Warner Cable Turns to RAD Data for TDM over IP in Texas

By ROBERT LIU
TMCnet Wireless and Technology Columnist


While the cable industry was eager to showcase its next-generation consumer convergence services earlier this week in Manhattan, executives also made no secrets about their need to build out the IP backhaul side of their networks.

And one of cable giants that participated with Sprint in their so-called "Quadruple Play" joint venture, Time Warner Cable, wasted no time to do just that.

The cable operator division of Time Warner has deployed RAD Data Communications' TDMoIP pseudowire technology as part of its growing metro Ethernet service offering in the Houston market. Time Warner Cable serves approximately 730,000 customers in the Houston metro area and has invested approximately $350 million in its Houston-area network to offer digital cable, high-speed Internet service and HDTV.

In a press release, RAD said it is currently serving Time Warner Cable with its IPmux family of TDMoIP gateways, which supports TDMoIP pseudowires -- the ability to transparently transport TDM circuits such as T1 and T3 across Ethernet, IP or MPLS networks.

Time Warner Cable executives in Houston explained the market is uniquely fragmented for them to take advantage of economies of scale and capture greater market share. Time Warner Cable has deployed thousands of miles of fiber within its own private network in Texas, providing customers with an attractive alternative to incumbent local access service providers.

"We likely have the largest contiguous and completely independent fiber network in the metro space servicing enterprise and carrier customers -- we're completely independent of Bell facilities and span the geography currently served by at least five separate ILECs here in the Houston metropolitan area," said Chuck Sweeney, VP of Business Solutions for Time Warner Cable-Houston.

But the huge demand for Ethernet to support existing and emerging IP applications, many customers still require T1 and T3 interfaces to support legacy TDM equipment. As a result, Time Warner Cable undertook a formal process to evaluate various pseudowire solutions and to select a provider to support TDM-over-Ethernet across the Time Warner Cable Metro Ethernet network.

Time Warner Cable's Sweeney said "we decided we needed to do a vendor bake-off and to perform a formal network trial. We had to make sure the vendor we buy from is financially stable, that they have adequate support capabilities, and that we could count on them to support our customer applications over the long term. We also wanted a provider that can service other Time Warner Cable technology needs."

The cable operator chose RAD after exhaustive laboratory testing with multiple vendor solutions and a subsequent three-month, live, on-network trial.

One of Time Warner Cable's first customers for integrated Ethernet and TDM access was a large, nationwide cellular telephone provider. Since the costs for backhauling traffic from cell towers to Mobile Switching Centers (MSCs) accounts for a large percentage of operators' ongoing costs, there is a high demand for efficient, cost-effective solutions. The majority of existing cellular towers use "2G" technology that typically require T1 circuits for backhaul.

Time Warner Cable saw the potential of offering low-cost Ethernet connections to the cellular operators in their region. With the Time Warner Cable service, operators have access to high bandwidth, low latency Ethernet connections for tower-to-MSC connectivity and use RAD's IPmux pseudowire solution to transport the TDM traffic across the same Ethernet link. Cellular traffic is extremely sensitive to latency and packet loss. RAD's IPmux leads the industry with ASIC-based performance ensuring very low latency with jitter buffers starting at 0.5ms and adaptive clock recovery accurate to within 16 parts per billion. The link redundancy feature helps provide Time Warner Cable's customers with rapid failover and reliable TDM transport.

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Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet.Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg.For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.


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