AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says it plans on offering a high definition video on demand service on its U-verse network but would not reveal its timetable for when it plans to make it available. "Our network supports it and we have all the content deals in place," said AT&T spokesperson Destiny Belknap.

Recall that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) had already revealed similar plans of offering an HD VOD service on its FiOS network at NXTcomm when CTO Mark Wegleitner remarked that the company was debating an internal timetable for launch and that its FTTH network could handle it as is. (See Verizon: HD VOD Is Coming.)

In the end, the race for HD content may end up testing the different technology approaches. AT&T feels its fiber-to-the-node architecture, which still has a heavy reliance on copper, can also handle HD VOD, even if it might be slower.

"They're betting heavily on compression," says Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin. Perrin notes that today, AT&T uses MPEG4 formatting to compress HD to 8.5 Mbit/s and will continue to rely on advances in compression technology rather than network speed to deliver more HD content.

Since AT&T has already defied the skeptics by offering competitive amounts of HD content on U-verse, it has proven that bandwidth speed should not be an issue when offering HD VOD. "As far as the size of the pipe goes, as long as they can do HD format, the physical layer should be enough to support an on demand version of that," says Perrin.

AT&T's IPTV-based network also gives it an advantage for rolling out VOD versus cable providers and Verizon since VOD is a form of IPTV, whereas cable and Verizon have separate broadcast and VOD networks.

You can weigh in on HD VOD by taking our latest reader poll. (See HD VOD & Beyond.) — Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

MorningWd 12/5/2012 | 3:05:41 PM
re: AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too FTTN or FTTH is irrelevant for VOD. If the FTTN architecture already supports HD, there will be no new bandwidth requirement in the last mile. The question will be the backhaul from the DSLAM. An IP-based FTTN architecture and an IP-based GPON architecture would be the same once you leave the DSLAM or OLT chassis. The only impacting difference between the two access strategies would be VZ's implementation of RF broadcast as the IP-based VOD would be using a different backbone. There would be a legitimate concern about the IP backbone bandwidth as VOD will place immense pressure on that part of the network.
bored_lurker 12/5/2012 | 3:05:40 PM
re: AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too What about scalability? I understand that they are running HD now but how scalable is it? If I have 3 TVs, 1 with HD VoD and 2 running HDTV channels is that an issue? As a FIOS customer I am not to worried about that, but will FTTN scale with multiple clients? It seems to me that as HDTVs come down in cost and more services are available this becomes more likely every day.

No statements here, I really am curious.
mgardner750 12/5/2012 | 3:05:40 PM
re: AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too Uverse is currently limited to 1 HD channel and 4 SD channels at any time ... even in the FTTP installs.
Raymond McConville 12/5/2012 | 3:05:35 PM
re: AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too Hence why advances in compression technology will be critical for them
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