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Ihug develops MPE gateways

Ihug develops MPE gateways

IHUG has reaffirmed its position as the leading innovator among Australasian ISPs, by again breaking new ground - this time in the Broadband arena.

The company has designed and built its own MPE gateways to handle high-speed digital data and TV transmissions. Traditionally, Ihug has relied on 3rd party equipment from suppliers (eg Sagem) to handle the transportation and Multi Protocol Encapsulation, known as MPE.

The new Ihug designed boxes have been built to handle a variety of the company’s burgeoning technologies, including the new and exciting Multicast streams destined to reshape the Internet over the coming year. The new equipment is already in use, and will soon deliver high-speed news feeds into the South Pacific/Asia region. Transmissions begin to Ihug’s existing downstream wholesale ISP customers this week.


MPE gateways are an integral component in a transmission network. Not only do they have to perform well – they must be seen to perform well. Ideally, the equipment should be able to provide a number of key features including:

 Statistics on its utilisation
 Logging of any errors that may occur
 Alarms when unexpected conditions arise
 Easy operation and maintenance, even when installed in a remote/isolated location

The 3rd party gateways previously deployed by Ihug could not meet all the above criteria. After feasibility work in mid-1999, the company set about building its own.

The new Ihug device is based on the increasingly popular Linux operating system. Software engineers spent time perfecting the device in the Ihug lab. Then they began writing the programmes that will convert a customer’s Internet data into an MPE transport stream for distribution to the transmission network. This was no easy feat, but the move resulted in significant savings. The total cost of the new equipment was 50% cheaper than the best retail price from Ihug suppliers.

The gateway is now in test mode on the Auckland SkyTower service. Results have far exceeded expectations. Test users report download speeds in excess of 4 Mbits/sec on standard dialup return paths. Ihug will move the gateway into production over the next week, and then begin deploying similar machines at our USA satellite uplink sites.


Multicast is similar to a broadcast and requires less bandwidth to hit more people. The technology is really only suitable for wireless networks, so Ihug will have major advantages over cable and DSL services.

Typical households will soon require up to 20-25mbps of bandwidth simultaneously to receive their TV, news, e-mail, phone and other services. This is well out of the reach of traditional wire based services.

But 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 up to (and beyond) 45mbps of bandwidth to a household.

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