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Comcast Unit May Toss Lifeline to ViP-TV Affiliates

IPTV service providers thrown for a loop upon receiving word that EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS) is shutting down its ViP-TV service this fall may get some help from an unlikely source: the cable industry.

Engineers at the Colorado-based Comcast Media Center (CMC) are working on some alternatives to help about 26 ViP-TV affiliates migrate off their existing system to video signals supplied by the CMC's Headend In The Sky (HITS) service, says Leslie Russell, the vice president and general manager of HITS. EchoStar's expected to terminate the ViP-TV service in late September, so its affiliates need to get cracking on a plan right away. (See EchoStar to Shut Down ViP-TV .)

One technical hurdle to overcome is the fact that all of ViP-TV's customers use MPEG-4, while HITS delivers video in MPEG-2. Russell says HITS already delivers signals to a few IPTV customers, enlisting headend-based transcoders to convert incoming MPEG-2 video signals into MPEG-4 format before they're relayed to customers.

That's one way HITS might serve EchoStar's current stable of IPTV customers, but "our engineers are taking a look at what options we might have," Russell says.

Avail-TVN , which has the advantage of already delivering signals in MPEG-4, is also developing a program to help ViP-TV customers make the switch before EchoStar pulls the plug. It's conducting a webinar about its approach on Monday (Aug. 15) afternoon.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 4:56:17 PM
re: Comcast Unit May Toss Lifeline to ViP-TV Affiliates

This should make for interesting discussion at the upcoming TelcoTV event.

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