Today I was perusing a press release from AT&T touting the new HD channels they will be offering in Fairfield County, Connecticut as part of their U-verse offering. This release was of special interest since this county is where TMC headquarters are located.
What struck me in the release however is not the new HD channels which for the record are WPIX HD (CW-NYC), WTXX HD (CW-Hartford/New Haven), WNET HD (PBS), WWOR HD (My Network-NYC), and WCTX HD (My Network-Hartford/New Haven) but instead one paragraph of the release that would have seemed unheard of ten years ago.
AT&T is the only national provider to offer a 100 percent Internet Protocol-based television (IPTV) service, making AT&T U-verse TV one of the most advanced television offerings available anywhere. AT&T is deploying next-generation video services, including AT&T U-verse TV, as part of its mission to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.
It is this reference to 100% Internet protocol that got me because when the first issue of Internet Telephony Magazine was launched back in 1998, service providers immediately shot down the whole concept of IP telephony and said it was bad... They stated a whole list of reasons why it didn't make sense. A number of prestigious analysts and major hardware vendors did the same in fact.
It is funny that IP has now become the weapon of the underdog in some senses.
in other words, when large telcos were competing with IP communications, it was bad... Now that they are using it to compete with cable companies, it is good and better than cable in fact.
But history aside, it is great to see that IP communications is enabling competition, where there was none. The concern of course is now that consumers have high-speed broadband, will they buy their TV service from phone or cable cable companies in ten years or will it be Google and Apple supplying television service? I would have to think that service providers are going to lose a lot of business to "broadband TV" companies that don't have the same infrastructure costs they do.
This has obvious ramifications for service providers who are spending fortunes to roll out IPTV networks today. We will see how this battle shapes up over this time period but if you have to bet on a winner in the race to build the TV network of the future, one imagines the company with the biggest advertising network has a serious advantage. Of course today, this company is Google and part of the reason for the Yahoo acquisition by Microsoft is to increase the size of their advertiser network.
Again, this will be fun to watch and as always, increased competition is good for consumers.