Focus on delivery

Forum set to unveil plans to move global broadband forward

Global interconnectivity and commercial opportunities in high-speed data transmission are central issues in first-round recommendations expected to be unveiled this week at the Broadband Content Delivery Forum's fall meeting in Nice, France.

Three major committees-Infrastructure, Content Applications and Market Development-have spent three months drafting the proposals in preparation for the Oct. 17-19 gathering.

The Forum (BCDF) evolved from an exploratory initiative by Nortel Networks earlier this year. Nortel executives were interested in speeding the adoption of global standards and agreements on the use of international broadband technology.

The effort has attracted leading Internet technology companies, infrastructure and architecture experts, and telecommunications providers, as well as content and applications creators.

BCDF members say their goal is to promote an understanding of the needs-and the vision-of both systems builders and content providers and to find profitable markets that will lead to shared economic opportunities from a worldwide consumer base.

The BCDF held its initial meeting in April in Las Vegas and met again in July in Boston. Working groups within the committees were assigned issues, and committee heads set. Currently, 115 firms are involved.

3NO Systems Inc.'s Bryan Bain, chairman of the Market Awareness group, said in Boston that the biggest challenge is finding a balance between corporate self-interest and the companies'shared goals. "As with any forum activity, the membership early on is more concerned with proprietary interests. Most of the discussion in Boston was focused on trying to narrow down those proprietary interests, to set quantifiable industry objectives, which was a difficult task."

It became clear at the Boston meeting, he said, that introducing a range of "skill sets" into the discussions would broaden the perspectives of all the participants. "Being able to define objectives that span or have a common language associated with them was one of the goals."

Another priority was to set objectives for the committees and their working groups.

The Infrastructure Committee will map ways to meet the service needs identified by the Content and Applications Committee and the business models as outlined by the Marketing Development group.

The Content and Applications Committee is charged with exploring improvement in the end user's broadband experience and studying how the infrastructure and technical industries can address concerns of content providers. The committee will also handle legal and regulatory issues.

The Market Development Committee has been asked to chart ways to "fast-track" industry consensus on business models.

Technological advances are driving a sense of urgency for the Forum, said BT's Nick Rose. "With the availability of the new DSL services becoming a reality for the mass market, the entire content-delivery industry will undergo massive technological change as new multimedia, feature-rich content is developed. [And] with the breakdown in geographical boundaries that comes with the Internet, there is the greatest-ever need for people in the industry to develop common approaches [internationally] to content delivery."