Ruckus Wireless IPTV in OK Homes

By Eric Griffith

March 21, 2006

The company's 802.11g-based IPTV transport tech is in play with its first US customer, the Midwest provider Pioneer.

The move Ruckus Wireless is making from technology just for home networks — it provided the high-speed guts of the first Netgear RangeMax equipment, for example —  to covering the triple-play (video, voice and data) in homes seems to be paying off.

After signing big deals with IPTV providers in China (with PCCW of Hong Kong, one of the largest IPTV providers in the world) and Ireland (with Magnet Entertainment), the company finally has its first customers in the United States — a company looking to save money on truck rolls and man-hours.

Pioneer Telephone Cooperative is billed as the third largest U.S. telephone cooperative, with about 140,000 customers across the state of Oklahoma. 20,000 of those customers get broadband DSL service from Pioneer. However, the growth in its 165-channel digital TV service launched in 2004 has been slow because every deployment has required not only a visit to provision the line outside a customer residence, but also a second truck roll with two people who then run Cat5 Ethernet cable throughout a house for use by the IPTV service.

David Callisch, Communications Director at Ruckus, says that kind of deployment "takes time — the average installation was three and a half to four hours... this was a big problem for them." He says the home Ethernet also was subject to interference from things like overhead power lines.

With the Ruckus products — an access point connected to the DSL gateway, plus an adapter with each set-top box (connected via Ethernet cable) in the home — the install time drops to 45 minutes and only requires one person.

"They can do four times as many subscriber deployments in a day, for less cost," says Callisch. Even just moving a TV from spot to spot in the house used to require a truck roll from Pioneer, but now customers can move the TV with set-top box wherever they want, and adding new TVs is as simple as getting a new box with a Ruckus adapter.

The Ruckus hardware doesn't just handle the IPTV traffic, but also provides full support for Internet access and VoIP services. "Instead of having coaxial cable, POTS [plain old telephone system] lines and Wi-Fi, you can have just one network," says Callisch.

Supposedly, Pioneer tested the Ruckus equipment at one point by putting an access point upside down in a filing cabinet in a metal building and using it to send a streaming video signal to a receiver in a moving pickup truck outside, and had a clear signal until the truck got a block away.

Last year, the company launched  Ruckus Interoperability and Open Testing (RIOT) for checking on the wireless interoperability of products like digital video recorders and set-top boxes. Since that time, Callisch says, the company has been talking with more and more companies about integrating the Ruckus smart antenna system into their products so no adapter would be needed.

Infonetics Research says IPTV users in North America will number 13 million by 2009.

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