Ihug builds its own Multicast-capable boxes

Ihug has designed and built its own Linux-based MPE gateways, which seem set to be a key element of its strategy for its high-speed wireless services to the home.

Ihug has designed and built its own Linux-based gateways for use in its high-speed wireless services.

Using its own gear will not only mean a 50% saving compared to equipment from third-party suppliers, but has given Ihug access to the Multicast functionality likely to underpin many of its network plans.

The company has been testing Multicast, which can be used to send data to many points at once, with Usenet newsfeeds, in a service targeted mainly at its wholesale ISP customers, for whom service begins this week - but its ultimate aim is to deploy it to the consumer market.

One likely application of the technology is to use it to deliver video to hard drive-equipped digital decoders for playback later in so-called Impulse Pay-Per-View services.

Ihug further contends that "typical households" - and particularly those that take Ihug's three-tier Internet, phone and TV services - will soon require up to 25 Mbit/s of bandwidth.

With Multicast, customers can receive multiple feeds, all at once, through the same receiver. The new technology will allow Ihug to stack stream on top of stream, delivering more than 45Mbit/s of bandwidth.

The MPE (Multi Protocol Encapsulation) boxes themselves allow protocols from one network to be carried over another - in Ihug's case customers' Internet data is converted into an MPE transport stream.

Ihug's own boxes offer logging and maintenance features not available in the equipment it has been buying from third-party suppliers like the French company Sagem.

Ihug says the gateway being tested on its Auckland SkyTower service has delivered download speeeds of up to 2Mbit/s to indiviodual Satnet users. The company will move the gateway into production over the next week, and then begin deploying similar machines at its US satellite uplink sites.

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