June 5, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

IPTV prepares for prime time

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The challenge for carriers is finding enough bandwidth on their network to deliver not just one but multiple HD channels into a single home. Unlike Verizon Communications, which is spending billions of dollars to build a fiber network directly to people's houses, AT&T has only extended its fiber into neighborhoods. It is using existing copper DSL infrastructure to deliver IPTV the rest of the way into homes.

While Verizon's network is costing about five times more to build than AT&T's, it will offer almost limitless bandwidth. AT&T's network, on the other hand will initially offer about 15Mbps to 20Mbps. And even though advances in DSL technology will allow it to push up these speeds, it will always be more limited than Verizon's fiber network.

"Verizon is using a big pipe to deliver service," said Matthew Flanigan, president of the Telecommunications Industry Association. "But AT&T has to be a bit more clever in how it uses technology, since the pipe it's using isn't ever going to be as fat. This is where companies like Microsoft, Alcatel and Cisco Systems can help deliver more content through skinnier pipes."

One of the first enhancements that will help AT&T deliver HDTV is a new compression codec known as MPEG-4, which gets bandwidth usage for the high-definition signals down to about 8Mbps per channel.

MPEG-4 technology is available today, and many vendors will be showing off their gear at the GlobalComm show. Tut Systems, for instance, will launch a MPEG-4 transcoder for high-definition content, which converts signals from the MPEG-2 standard in real time. Optibase, a provider of advanced digital video products, will demonstrate its live encoding of MPEG-4 high-definition technology, as well.

But Kishore said that AT&T and other IPTV providers will need to do more than just rely on MPEG-4 compression technology. Those companies may have to look at technologies such as channel bonding, which combines multiple downstream channels to increase the overall throughput that can be received in the home. The technology, which is used in cable networks, has the potential to more than quadruple currently available speeds.

"HDTV may not be a big concern for AT&T right now," said Kishore. "But it will definitely need to do something to increase bandwidth and use the bandwidth it has more efficiently. And I don't see MPEG-4 being enough."

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5 comments

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IPTV - Quality of Service
There is no question that IPTV is in our future. IP networks are being deployed in an effort to more efficiently utilize network resources such as flexible bandwidth, soft switching and enhanced services. But there is also problem in our IP future. Packet loss and latency issues will result in a poor Quality of Service (QOS). The initial offerings of IPTV will work fine as the network bandwidth will be very under utilized. As more customers are added to the network, high bandwidth video flows will begin causing Router buffering, packet loss and high latency. Some will say MPLS networks will fix the problem via traffic management and prioritization. Will they? MPLS will have little impact on QOS. What should be the high priority on an IP network? Video? Voice? Bottom line all services will be high priority and real-time in the future.
Posted by lynch_vt (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
IPtv
The service and the price had best be better than what we get now with sat tv.I pay to much for the few channels that I actually watch.Pay per channel would be grand.I can see a use for a pc tv connection on a small scale but I would not sit and watch my monitor I spend to much time there at the job.news may be alright.thanks Terry
Posted by curioone (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IPTV isn't quite what you sugggest
IPTV isn't meant so much for use with a PC hooked to a TV, or for a PC at all, for that matter. It's largest potential is for use with set top boxes similar to cable and satellite boxes.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Pay per channel would be grand
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/nakamichi/nakamichi_zx9_service_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/nakamichi/nakamichi_zx9_service_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ipod Apple (152 comments )
Link Flag
AT&T Not much of a leader vs Verizon/FIOS
AT&#38;T is surenNot much of a leader vs Verizon/FIOS -- they should
offer the customer the option to pay extra to get the fiber
extended all the way to the home.
Posted by libertyforall1776 (650 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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