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SCTE Expo: MSOs Prep IPTV Push

Jeff Baumgartner
10/28/2009
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DENVER -- SCTE Cable-Tec Expo -- The cable industry is hard at work preparing a major IP video push, allowing that service to converge with their established VoIP and Docsis Internet services.

In a keynote speech here, John Schanz, executive VP of national engineering and technical operations for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), stressed that cable's next move is to further develop its IP core and to put all of its services onto IP, including video, to take advantage of the mass of IP-connected devices on the market.

"Imagine anyone building a consumer gadget without IP. It would be like building a home without plumbing. IP has made its way into every industry, and ours is no different."

For IP video in particular, Schanz said Comcast's content distribution network (CDN) strategy is key. The strategy has the most popular content residing near the edges of the network, to keep transport costs in check.

IPTV might be important to the cable industry, but executives on this morning's opening panel session said they're still wrestling with how to get there while still managing a massive RF video network.

Some MSOs, for example, are interested in using do-it-all gateways that can speak IP and QAM and then transcode and shuttle video to cheap IPTV boxes in homes. But those gateways won't be cheap, likely selling for around $600 per unit until operators start buying them en masse.

"We are looking at all the alternatives," said Charter CTO Marwan Fawaz.

Even so, MSOs agree that IPTV can offer big benefits. Using IPTV and MPEG-4, for example, would boost bandwidth by as much as 50 percent, said Pragash Pillai, VP of engineering and technology at Bresnan Communications LLC .

But Dermot O'Carroll, senior VP of engineering and network operations at Canada's Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), thinks the payback extends well beyond transport efficiencies, because IPTV would let MSOs deliver video to multiple devices, including smartphones.

And that value grows clearer when one remembers that Rogers operates its own cable and mobile services, and is ramping up its own flavor of "TV Everywhere," starting off by delivering premium on-demand fare to home PCs. Rogers took some complexity out of that service by authenticating customers for TV Everywhere content via the cable modem, rather than through the billing system, O'Carroll said.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.


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