AT&T: We'll Have HD VOD Too
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