SBC Does IPTV

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SBC Does IPTV

SBC seems to be moving along with their Project Lightspeed rollout but some are saying the project is much further behind than planned. A trial of the technology is set for Texas and 40 SBC employees will be able to get this triple-play service which includes VDSL in the range of 20-25 Mbps.

This level of bandwidth is sufficient for one HDTV channel and three regular channels. Expect 18 million households to be reached by the first half of 2008.

The question I have is why the bandwidth limitation? One HDTV channel shouldn’t be enough for most households. I would think the company should be deploying technology to allow 50 Mbps of bandwidth. I also wonder what happens when consumers get the bandwidth and if they decide to stream TV from other sources such as perhaps Google or Yahoo! Even the movie studios are exploring their options in bypassing cable companies and others.

I get the feeling the IPTV market won’t play out the way we expect it to. That of course is why I love this business. Who would have thought VoIP would be the world’s savior from 1998-2001, cast aside from 2002-2003 and then the world’s savior once again in 2004?

So one has to wonder how SBC CEO Ed Whitacre will make his
statement come true. If you recall he recently told a reporter that he wasn’t going to let companies such as Yahoo! or Vonage use his pipes for free.

One wonders how if you have 25 Mbps DSL being rolled out to customers, how do you stop this from happening? Aren’t customers paying for these pipes so they can use them for applications in the “cloud?” Federal regulators are forcing SBC to sell naked or unbundled DSL for exactly this reason.

The company has to be concerned about these issues as there are about a dozen video-Vonages waiting in the wings; Companies that can do for video what Vonage did for voice. NetFlix, Walmart, Apple and Blockbuster are just three such companies that could make this a reality.

So the unknowns are the movie studios as well as the regulatory environment. Indeed, the only thing certain in telecom these days is tremendous uncertainly as evidenced by the recent
Senate bill S. 1063 that alters the short window of E911 compliance among other things.

The video blogging market while intriguing still occupies a niche market. Internet radio was another concept that was supposed to change the world by allowing a slew of new stations to come online and gain major traction. I suppose the Internet radio market may foretell the challenges independent film makers may face but by the same token I think video streaming online could possibly dent traditional distribution methods such as Cable TV. In my opinion something about video allows it to be more viral than radio. Radio is about a few very popular personalities while TV has tens of thousands or more personalities than can be hired for Internet TV movies or series.

So TV if we can even call it that in the future may be very different tomorrow than it is today. If VoIP revolutionized communications what will IPTV or other technologies do for the future of video distribution? I imagine
p2p video networks will become more and more popular in the future.

So in such a world where voice and TV can be provided by others, how do ILECs maintain control? I don’t have the answers but I see LECs getting squeezed by VoIP providers,
VoIP peering and now competition in the TV market that could be much tougher than even the cable companies. Then again the LECs own the pipes. What will they do to make sure customers use their services? As they say in the TV business… Stay tuned to see the conclusion of this exciting episode.



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