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Technology suppliers rev up compatibility for IPTV gear

Telecom equipment maker Alcatel is teaming up with Amdocs, a maker of software that handles billing and service provisioning, to help telcos speed up the introduction of Internet protocol-based TV.

They will pre-test and pre-certify that their products will work together, so that carriers don’t have to integrate those products themselves, CNET News reported. The goal is to fast track technology development and help carriers reduce the time and cost associated with installing an IPTV network.

Earlier this year, Amdocs signed a similar agreement with Microsoft, another IPTV supplier and a close partner of Alcatel. Those companies also plan to engage in joint sales and marketing efforts, and they’ve begun development of an interoperability lab that will simulate real-world production environments. Alcatel, Amdocs and Microsoft have already worked on several accounts together including SBC Communications’ Project LightSpeed.

Wired said the cable industry is watching developments closely. Cable operators have spent about $100 billion since the mid-1990s upgrading their networks and they face a conundrum of sorts.

During a panel on IPTV at a recent cable-marketing conference in Philadelphia, Dallas Clement, senior vice president of Cox Communications, said cable operators are struggling to determine where IP fits into their strategies, with proper prioritization being one of the company’s biggest challenges.

Because of their existing investments, Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications in Bethesda, Maryland, told Wired that it could be a decade or more before the cable industry widely adopts IP-based video delivery. But as telephone companies look to launch IPTV in various markets by next year, cable operators may eventually have no choice but to upgrade their networks all over again.

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