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Feature Article
November 2004

Coleman County Co-op Converts Triple Play

Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (CCTC) recently embarked on a project to cost-effectively deliver new-generation broadband services over great distances using traditional copper telephone lines.

CCTC set out with the objective to offer the same digitized voice, enhanced video and multiple high-speed data services as competing metropolitan-based carriers, with the goal of positioning the cooperative to generate additional revenue opportunities while delivering the promise of today’s digital home — with the Quality of Service (QoS) and reliability of yesterday’s PSTN — to a predominantly rural subscriber base. In addition, CCTC wanted its network technologically poised to respond to the next wave of interactive communication as it emerges.

Customer: Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
215 North 2nd Street
Santa Anna, TX

Service Area: 280 square miles including Santa Anna, Mozelle, Burkett, Lake Coleman, Rockwood, and Valera

Co-op Membership Base: 2,300

Exchanges: 6

Revenue Impact: Average subscriber rate is expected to increase from $40 per subscriber/month for basic telephone and dial-up access to over $100 per subscriber/month to include digitized voice, enhanced video, and multiple high-speed data services

Operational Impact: Single IP-based broadband network to operate and maintain. New remote provisioning and management capabilities will promote the reduction of truck rolls and the ease of new feature and second line provisioning.

When CCTC installed its first fiber optic cable in 1993 (from Brownwood to Valera), the new technology enabled rural customers to catapult into a modern era of new services. Basic telephony was augmented by an ‘a la carte’ menu of advanced features such as caller ID, three-way calling, and voice mail, providing additional revenue streams for the cooperative.

CCTC also offered dial-up Internet access, mobile communications, and satellite TV through lease agreements with third-party vendors. However, this model proved restrictive to CCTC’s ongoing revenue potential, plus it impeded the cooperative’s control in the areas of billing and converged broadband network serviceability. In fact, the co-op had been losing money by providing local television channels at minimal cost as a supplement to its satellite offering.

Through extensive industry research and a careful forward looking revenue forecast it became evident that the careful deployment of an IP-based network would yield numerous cost, feature, and “single network” serviceability benefits both to the cooperative and its rural subscribers. However, in order to leverage the many advantages offered by IP, CCTC’s legacy ATM-based access platform would require a cost-prohibitive and highly disruptive forklift upgrade. While functional and reliable, the existing PSTN limited CCTC to only those services that could be rendered from a CLASS 5 switch, making emerging services such as high-speed data transmission and Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony virtually inaccessible.

In addition, the newly-deployed IP platform would need to be carefully re-architected to support essential features such as Lifeline POTS, ensuring that if power in a customer’s premise is lost or if Internet access is disrupted, telephone service will continue to operate in standalone mode. Lack of Lifeline POTS support, as is the case in nearly every other vendor’s IP solution, makes most VoIP implementations acceptable only for providing secondary line service.

CCTC sought to deploy an end-to-end IP solution for secure converged broadband transport services. This newly deployed network would need to interoperate seamlessly with CCTC’s existing PSTN to provide a full set of CLASS features that subscribers have come to expect, along with advanced next-generation calling features, packetized voice, and Lifeline POTS service.

CCTC turned to Pannaway Technologies ( and TRC Engineering Services ( to design and implement a cost-effective IP-based network that would optimize its existing “pipeline to the premise” for a profitable Triple Play of next-generation services.

The architectural model focused on the Pannaway Service Convergence Network (SCN), an end-to-end IP solution designed for deploying converged broadband services over ADSL2+ networks. With SCN, CCTC can manage the delivery of innovative IP-based broadband services, such as multicast video and easy-to-use parental control features, in combination with advanced and legacy telephony features that include digitized voice with Lifeline POTS support.

CCTC’s proof of concept involved the installation of the Pannaway Personal Branch Gateway (PBG) at several trial locations. The PBG provides a single point of access for any existing telephone device, cost-effectively replacing an ADSL2+ Internet modem and premise switch/router. IP-based local and toll traffic was successfully routed over CCTC’s existing copper wire in conjunction with the co-op’s legacy DMS-10. Regional test sites for data services also successfully transmitted over the Internet backbone at wire speeds exceeding 10 Gbps.

To avoid costly infrastructure upgrades and ensure a smooth migration to IP, other components of the SCN continue to be integrated throughout the CCTC network. For example, the Pannaway Broadband Access Switch (BAS) is being mounted to existing Remote Terminals (RT) enabling the delivery of toll-quality voice calls, broadcast-quality video, and high-speed Internet access in tandem with CCTC’s legacy ATM-based equipment.

Pannaway BAS is an Ethernet-in-the-first-mile 802.3ah-compliant network access and internetworking switch that cost-effectively replaces a DSLAM, DLC, and ATM to IP gateway to manage the converged traffic of up to 32 subscribers.

In order to be positioned for a true Triple Play roll-out that will support current and emerging applications, CCTC has successfully migrated to the highly scalable Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for IP-based telecommunications. Just as the PC broke the centralized intelligence architecture of the mainframe, SIP breaks the centralized control architecture of the PSTN and MGCP through the use of intelligent endpoints that allow for the rapid deployment of new features. Services such as Web-based call feature configuration; call forwarding based on calling number, time, or day; distinctive ringing based on calling number; and inbound and outbound call logs are features that CCTC will soon be able to offer its subscribers. These options would not have been achievable in the traditional PSTN and MGCP model.

Through numerous engineering design sessions and an in-depth product evaluation, Pannaway and TRC were able to successfully demonstrate that all components of the SIP-based SCN solution would integrate and deploy seamlessly, while providing both traditional CLASS features and advanced, next-generation calling features.

Converged services represent a giant leap beyond the PSTN for Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs). CCTC now has a financially viable way to leverage its existing infrastructure to deliver a true Triple Play over the IP platform. And, with the assistance of Pannaway SCN, the cooperative was able to accomplish this without a forklift upgrade to its existing network. CCTC is now able to link PSTN traffic to the Internet backbone, manage that traffic remotely, and guarantee Lifeline support for its rural subscriber-base.

Because SCN efficiently routes voice and data over diverse paths while providing ILECs with the ability to remotely troubleshoot and manage a single converged IP network, feature and second line provisioning time as well as service truck rolls are greatly reduced. These benefits quickly decrease CCTC’s operational costs while increasing billable service revenues. With the Pannaway solution, CCTC’s average monthly subscriber rate is predicted to reach $57 for voice, $92 for voice and data, over $100 when all three services — voice, video and data — are rolled out, and upwards of $150 when advanced video services such as video-on-demand (VOD) are made available. Comparatively, average subscriber fees prior to the SCN installation were limited to approximately $20 for voice services and $19 for dial-up Internet.

Finally, the success of the CCTC trial paved the way for Pannaway SCN to be included in the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) program’s Access Equipment Category. This important endorsement opens the door for telcos of all sizes to expand and keep their technology up to date, resulting in billions of dollars in rural infrastructure development and creating thousands of jobs for the American economy.

As a bridge between yesterday’s infrastructure and the next generation of interactive communications, SCN is the obvious platform for converged broadband service delivery.

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