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We've Got Our IPTV

CHICAGO – Supercomm 2005 – What got the most play on the banks of Lake Michigan? Clearly, it was IPTV.

In journalism school, they tell you not to make yourselves part of the story. Well, toss that. Because Light Reading last month launched the first-ever broadcast-quality television channel on the Internet covering the telecommunications industry: Light Reading TV.

This week LRTV interviewed dozens of industry luminaries. Broadband, IPTV, and fixed-mobile convergence were the topics du jour.

Interviewees included, among many others, Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the United States Telecom Association(USTA); Bill Smith, CTO of BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS); Mike Volpi, senior vice president at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Mike Quigley, COO of Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA); and Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Group plc's (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) wholesale division.

In this series of TV interviews, it became clear that the industry is rallying around the next set of technologies, including IPTV and IMS, which are capable of delivering an explosion of new communications applications over the next few years.

”I believe we are going to see IP-everything over our networks,” said the USTA’s McCormick in an LRTV exclusive. "IP voice, IP data, and IP video.” McCormick believes this evolution of networks will require the government to be more flexible in regulation. “I think it’s time for government to not manage competition, but to turn to the free market."

Mike Quigley, Alcatel’s COO and possible CEO in waiting, also sees a big future in IP technologies and IPTV in particular, saying, “The biggest trend we see at Alcatel is the explosion of IPTV."

Of course, Alcatel is wrapped up in one of the industry's most high-profile projects, the IPTV deployment at SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), itself the topic of some debate.

(For those wondering about the fate of the Aussie at Alcatel, whom many think could be the company’s next CEO, Quigley confessed to Light Reading in an interview with LRTV that he doesn’t speak any French. Even though he’s soon taking an “intensive” French course, he notes that “English is the official language of Alcatel.”)

There is significant speculation that IPTV will flop, or somehow, just not work. That's nuts. It's already here – in many cases it's already working.

Will there be delays and engineering challenges in rolling it out to the mass market? Most certainly. I continue to think that some folks continue to be fixated on the wrong approach – copying cable with the channel-changing paradigm (see Video Is the Internet). Yes, it will require substantial investment and deployment by the telcos, and other communications providers, to make it work over existing fixed-line and mobile networks.

The best thing about our own IPTV project? Well, it worked. It’s clearly a demonstration that the technology is evolving and is ready to permanently change the future of broadband – and media. Three years ago, we certainly could not have done this. But advances in technology and bandwidth have made it possible. Think of where we can go in another three years.

LRTV’s Supercomm coverage can be seen here: Supercomm 2005: Monday, Supercomm 2005: Tuesday, and Supercomm 2005: Wednesday. The rest of our interviews from Supercomm will air on LRTV over the course of the next month.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:11:23 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV We are doing it. It will be a successful business for us.

Not sure why people continue to getted bogged down in the idea of "large service providers have to do this and eumulate cable channels in order for us to say it works."

That's not how the Internet took off, at all. If we had waited for Verizon to launch the Internet we would have been waiting a while.

The Internet is going to become the world's largest repository of specialized video content, streaming, channelized, cached, or otherwise.

--Scott
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:11:23 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV
You wrote that IPTV works and works today.

Well, it certainly depends upon what you mean by works.

If you mean you can stream video over the Internet at some rate with variable quality. That has worked for some number of years.

If you mean switched digital video over DSL. This has worked, but may face some interesting challenges as you try to run multiple HDTV streams over a single DSL line. I would not call that working yet. Even if it works in a one off environment, working broadly over a mass base will be yet another challenge.

If you mean there is a channelless model working and making money, I disagree strongly. There is no such model in service today. All (at least all I am aware of) carrier IPTV models today emulate cable.

seven
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:20 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV As Scott says, there will be thousands of TV narrowcasters on the Internet over time. It's a totally different market to the one that established mass market broadcasters go after.

While I agree, I also wonder who will pay for the common infrastructure that these narrowcasters of modest means cannot afford? Some may see them as getting a free ride, or at least not paying their fair share. If that is the belief, why won't they be knocked off the air?
Peter Heywood 12/5/2012 | 3:11:20 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV Exactly!

The main thing that we're demonstrating is that the Internet opens up the business of TV broadcasting to folk with modest means, like Light Reading.

Actually, I guess I should call it narrowcasting, because we're talking about audiences measured in thousands, not millions.

As Scott says, there will be thousands of TV narrowcasters on the Internet over time. It's a totally different market to the one that established mass market broadcasters go after.

Peter



rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:19 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV Well, as I said video over the Internet is years old. At least 5 years that I am aware of.

Agreed. The rise and fall of the streaming industry was as dramatic as what happened to the optical industry.

And yet, little of that generates revenue....hmmmm

It's never been given a chance. Access oligarchs aren't interested in unicast video. It upsets their business models.

Netflix is the closest thing the US offers for quality internet video. It shows how the model can work.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:11:19 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV
Well, as I said video over the Internet is years old. At least 5 years that I am aware of.

And yet, little of that generates revenue....hmmmm

seven
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:18 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV So, to me it is about creating and marketing good content.

Agreed. One man's treasure is another man's trash. Just because the masses like Kramer's Mad Money doesn't make it any good to me.

Theoretically, this has nothing to do with the access provider. They are not blocking it.

Of course it does. They are blocking it by not building real access networks which use modern technology.

The telcos account for approximately 4% of the US GDP. What's their real output? Not much. Looks like another accounting game where the US is attributing taxes as economic activity.

There is just a lot of crap content.

Too many telco lawyers taxing society and not enough engineers building things and that's all our industry can enable ;-)
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:11:18 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV
rj,

My view is a bit different. Nobody will sign up to buy crap content. Sorry LR, but if you charged for your video - I would not subscribe. So, to me it is about creating and marketing good content. Theoretically, this has nothing to do with the access provider. They are not blocking it. There is just a lot of crap content.

seven
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:11:17 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV That's not how the Internet took off, at all. If we had waited for Verizon to launch the Internet we would have been waiting a while.

I'm not sure this comparison is complete. VZ may not have built the internet but they ultimately were forced to enable open (public) access to it. In turn that enabled a lot of independent ISPs. Today, we're on a path to take that away.

Now some think allowing the public access was not a good idea in the first place. I think that's a different topic worth examining.
desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 3:11:15 AM
re: We've Got Our IPTV Scott: As Scott says, there will be thousands of TV narrowcasters on the Internet over time. It's a totally different market to the one that established mass market broadcasters go after.

RJ: While I agree, I also wonder who will pay for the common infrastructure that these narrowcasters of modest means cannot afford? Some may see them as getting a free ride, or at least not paying their fair share. If that is the belief, why won't they be knocked off the air?

It's like indie labels. A little raw, and a lot disorganized, but still kicking. Hosting services, with VoD streaming just like the big RBOCs, but on a smaller scale, may be the answer?

Time will tell. I was just buying some stuff off the Internet, and who'd-a thunk some completely non-technical used auto parts dealer has pulldown menus with all those car parts of so many models, years, etc., Verisign'd SSL, and so on? There's a whole secondary industry providing the e-shopping carts, databases, etc. So why not IPTV services?

-desi
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