Cavalier Telephone: Pioneering MPEG-4 broadband TV with IBM

Published on 05-Dec-2006

" IBM System x servers are large enough to allow us to add redundant power supplies and resources, but they’re not so large that they are cost-prohibitive." - Rick Gambriel, director of IT, Cavalier Telephone

Customer:
Cavalier Telephone

Industry:
Telecommunications

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Digital Media, Innovation that matters, Next Generation Networks

IBM Business Partner:
Kasenna

Overview

Telecommunications providersare facing increasing customer demands as well as intense competition from cable service providers. To remain competitive and retain customers, telecommunications providers have found that they need to offer customers compelling new services – rapidly bringing these new services to market as cost-effectively and flexibly as possible. Cavalier Telephone is well positioned to meet these challenges.

Business need:
Remain competitive, reduce customer churn and enhance revenues by bringing compelling new services to market rapidly, cost-effectively and flexibly

Solution:
An interactive broadband TV solution from IBM and Kasenna, featuring MPEG-4 technology providing a “triple play” bundle of voice, video and Internet services for consumers; and leveraging IBM System x servers running Linux®

Benefits:
Ability to grow the customer base and reduce churn, increase revenues, enhance customer satisfaction, achieve rapid ROI, and easily add new revenue-generating services to keep pace with the evolving IP television (IPTV) environment

Case Study


“ Discussions about tools that IBM Digital Media Solutions are exploring and using helped us configure some of our services and, even more importantly, prepare for the future.”

Rick Gambriel, director of IT, Cavalier Telephone


Lead Image
Innovative broadband services
Telecommunications providers today face ever-increasing customer demands coupled with intense competition from cable service providers, which are now offering voice over IP (VoIP) services as well as TV and video on demand (VoD). To remain competitive and retain customers, telecommunications providers have found that they need to offer customers compelling new services – rapidly bringing these new services to market as cost-effectively and flexibly as possible.

Telecommunications providers such as Cavalier Telephone are well equipped to meet these industry challenges. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Cavalier operates throughout several states in the mid-Atlantic region, providing the latest in sophisticated telecommunications products – including advanced telephone features and high-speed Internet access – to more than 35,000 business and 220,000 residential customers.

In step with its goal of offering customers the ability to choose from innovative services, Cavalier decided to add IPTV and VoD to its repertoire of new service offerings. It recognized that IPTV – which uses a digital broadcast signal sent through a telephone network via a broadband connection – could help the company reduce customer churn, increase revenues and gain new subscribers.


IBM and Kasenna: Rolling out an integrated IPTV solution
Cavalier was looking for an integrated IPTV and VoD solution enabling a fast, scalable implementation that would easily accommodate new subscribers. The solution also had to be cost-effective to enable competitive pricing for service bundles consisting of Internet, phone and VoD services, as well as access to 150 TV channels. After conducting research into IPTV system suppliers, Cavalier selected IBM and its Business Partner Kasenna – a leading provider of VoD content and MPEG-4-ready IPTV applications – to supply an integrated solution.

“IBM was desirable because of its experience within the Linux environment,” says Rick Gambriel, director of IT, Cavalier Telephone. “All of our IPTV middleware, encryp­tion and other components run on Linux. IBM System x servers fell into that environment very naturally.”


Notes Gambriel, “We already knew what we wanted, but didn’t know how we could include other products. IBM played an extremely important role, brokering information and help­ing us understand how the whole solution would fit together.”

In early January 2006, IBM began working on the project, bringing in skills and resources from the IBM Linux Technology Center to understand why Cavalier’s existing storage configuration wasn’t allow-ing failover in a timely manner. Failover, an automatic and transparent backup to a standby server should the primary system fail, is especially important to meet the high-availability and redundancy requirements for Cavalier’s IPTV installation. “Although our original storage device met our requirements for speed, we upgraded to a larger storage device to meet our expectations for high availability,” says Gambriel. “In helping us comprehend this, IBM was always available and extremely responsive to our needs.”

Before rolling out its solution, Cavalier tested 50 in-house users on the system for approximately three months. Kasenna had also carried out testing previously, certifying the system at its own facilities. In May 2006, after only four months, Cavalier rolled out its broadband TV solution and its newly built “triple play” bundle of voice, video and Internet services to more than 2,000 customers.

The next generation of digital video compression
Thanks to its new solution, Cavalier Telephone became the first telecommunications provider in the United States to offer MPEG-4 digital format television over a broadband network. The MPEG-4 technology converts video into a digital stream of content that’s delivered over a broadband network from Cavalier’s headend facility in Richmond. The solution uses Cavalier’s existing fiber-based broadband DSL network.

The IBM solution features IBM System x336 servers running Linux, providing Cavalier with a cost-effective, scalable, open-source single platform for high availability. IBM DS4000TM and DS4300 storage servers provide storage for video content and to support the customer database.


Several partners joined IBM to help create the overall solution, including:

  • Kasenna PortalTV – middleware offering easy-to-use customization features running on IBM System x servers
  • Kasenna LivingRoom and Kasenna MediaBase – VoD servers
  • SecureMedia – content security and encryption
  • Amino – set-top boxes programmed with software that can handle viewer requests to access media sources
  • Tut Systems – head-end configuration

Built on open standards, the solution enables Cavalier to easily customize services and viewers’ experiences. The broadband TV solution delivers over 150 digital channels, including all local network affiliates. It uses a full-featured interactive electronic program guide that allows viewers to navigate seamlessly through various service menus, including setting up parental controls for safe family viewing. The on-screen caller ID feature gives customers the flexibility to monitor incoming telephone calls, while the digital set-top box provides the portal, enabling smooth access to interactive services such as video on demand and pay-per-view.

Enhancing scalability and supporting growth with IBM System x servers
The IBM System x servers provided the right platform for the solution’s IPTV modular middleware. Says Gambriel, “We found that we could add them to our overall system without a substantial increase in cost, and we could avoid extensive upfront investments, building as we went along.”

He continues, “IBM System x servers are large enough to allow us to add redundant power supplies and resources, but they’re not so large that they are cost-prohibitive.


“This is very important because as we grow in other markets, we’ll be using more of these servers to distribute the VoD middleware package with all the channel lineups. We don’t want to have to go into each market and spend inordinately. We can run most of this from the headend at our Richmond location and put the pieces that we need out into new markets. This technology allows us that flexibility.”

Unparalleled levels of interactivity
Cavalier can now move thousands of video streams simultaneously to deliver premium, customized and interactive IPTV services to its customers. The telecommunications provider currently has more than 2,000 customers using its broadband solution – a number that is growing steadily. With its new solution, Cavalier expects to increase revenues, enhance customer satisfaction, grow its customer base, reduce customer churn, achieve a rapid return on investment (ROI) and – perhaps most importantly – remain competitive.

By engaging with IBM for its IPTV solution, Cavalier has tapped into IBM digital media expertise and its partnership with key application providers. Says Gambriel, “Discussions about tools that IBM Digital Media Solutions are exploring and using helped us configure some of our services and, even more importantly, prepare for the future.”

The company is well positioned to offer its customers additional advanced IP services such as TV mail, interactive programming and online games. Cavalier is also considering plans to package, commercialize and resell its solution to potential clients, including other exchange carriers and smaller-sized telecommunications providers – helping them to avoid the prohibitive costs associated with headends by taking advantage of the feed from Cavalier. It also plans to offer its solution to local educational institutions, enabling schools to enhance classroom-based learning.

Cavalier can now easily add new revenue-generating services that keep pace with evolving IPTV and its growing video content delivery network, reaping the advantages of value-add, new rich-media services as they develop.

Cavalier customers, in turn, can enjoy enhanced levels of interactivity between the Internet, telephone and video, enabling them to access services currently unavailable to them through current TV providers.

For more information
To learn more about IBM solutions and services for the telecommunications industry, contact your IBM sales representative, or visit:
ibm.com/industries/telecom

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Storage: DS4000, Storage: DS4300 Express, System x

Operating system:
Linux

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2006 IBM CorporationNew Orchard RoadArmonk, NY 10504U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America12-06All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, DS4000 and System x are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. Many factors contributed to the results and benefits achieved by the IBM customer described in this document. IBM does not guarantee comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.