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IPTV Catching On and Challenging Corporate Users

Oct 27, 2005 8:00 AM


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“Most corporate people don’t even realize it’s possible,” says Rich Mavrogeanes, founder and chief technology officer at VBrick Systems. He’s referring to broadcast video over IP networks or IPTV, a new twist on TV that many observers expect will take off in the next year or two.

At first, IPTV sounds like plain old video streaming, only in place of the familiar little windows filled with jittery low-res images, the viewer gets the full high-def experience and extensive control over what and when to watch.

Mavrogeanes says IPTV is a new approach to winning the business “triple play” of delivering voice, data, and video to users through the same network and wires. Whoever can do that stands to reap enormous rewards, and plenty of industry bigwigs are moving into the field. Indeed, anyone who has been persuaded to obtain high speed Internet access from a cable TV provider or telco shouldn’t be surprised to hear the telcos would like to put Desperate Housewives at your fingertips as well.

SBC Communications, for example, a major telco and part owner of Cingular Wireless, has announced a deal with Microsoft in which SBC will use the Microsoft TV IPTV edition to roll out next generation television services.

Microsoft terms IPTV "better TV, not me too TV." The company says its TV media software package is designed to support broadcast-quality video and new, integrated TV services over broadband networks by combining such features as instant channel change (ICC) and multiple picture-in-picture (PIP) with traditional TV services such as broadcast programming, VOD, and DVR. “The software is developed to integrate seamlessly and economically with other IP-based communications and media services for PCs, phones, and other consumer devices,” the company states.

"Our service will change the way people experience TV. Finally, customers will watch what they want, when they want, from a virtually unlimited and interactive content selection," says Edward E. Whitacre Jr., SBC chairman and CEO.

Mavrogeanes says part of the interest in IPTV springs from the fact that so many people have higher-quality video displays for their computers than for their TVs. In addition, broadband connections are becoming ubiquitous. Many other traditional pro AV markets are also adopting IPTV.

“Universities are putting it in to deliver TV to all dorm rooms. They can also make lectures and the like available for people to watch any time,” Mavrogeanes says.

Corporate users should find extensive uses for IPTV in delivering training, conferencing, and an infinite availability of both live and archived video; yet, the corporate world is lagging. One reason: Many corporations are still relying on analog television services, paralleled by a data network, over which they do limited video distribution. Moreover, many companies display a silo mentality. There may be many video creators and users in different parts of the company, but each thinks his or her little slice is all the video the company does or needs.

“They don’t understand that it’s all the same,” Mavrogeanes says.

IPTV may be poised for rapid growth. Insight Media recently cited a report by Informa Telecoms & Media that states the number of IPTV subscribers will jump tenfold by 2010. The report covered 50 countries and found, despite the 2.5 million IPTV global subscribers today, there will be 25 million subscribers in five years.

As the consumer TV markets hurries to catch up with IPTV, where will corporate users stand? According to Mavrogeanes, it’s largely up to their integrators. “Integrators have to live up to their reputations," he says. "They have to learn more about IP integration, not just AV integration. They have to learn to deliver more IPAV.”



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