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IPTV Spreads Its Wings

The “IPTV — Market Outlook 2010” Super Session Tuesday offered an interesting combination of IPTV providers, content aggregators, mobile TV providers and traditional broadcasters discussing the new methods of content distribution.

This session explored the potential and the challenges awaiting those attempting new methods of content distribution.

Schaeffler referred to IPTV as “a killer app ... like DBS was 10 years ago.” He said the other killer app on the horizon is mobile television.

The panel consisted of Ed Horowitz of SES Americom, Alan Guggenheim of OpenTV, James Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting, Shawn Strickland of Verizon FiOS TV and Omar Javaid of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO.

CONTENT AGGREGATION IN PLACE

Horowitz described SES Americom’s IP-Prime aggregation service, which offers a seamless platform of more than 300 video channels and 103 music channels. He portrayed this service as an “add water and stir solution” for the distribution of content to IPTV providers. Horowitz said the Americom service is scalable to over 600 video channels with much HD content using MEPG-4 compression.

Alan Guggenheim of OpenTV said, “Hybrid technology is the key.” Guggenheim was referring to the use of hybird set-top boxes and hybrid networks that offer both IPTV and traditional video distribution technology to provide consistent services and experiences across all environments.

LOCAL TV STREAMED OVER THE NET

James Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting, which owns WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., proposed an interesting application for traditional local broadcasters. Goodmon proposed that local broadcasters use the Internet as a distribution medium.

“We need to come up with a way of being sure that a computer receiving our stream is in our DMA (Designated Market Area),” Goodmon said.

Goodmon proposed using credit cards with address verification as well as a USB dongle that would receive two or three local FM radio stations to verify that a computer receiving streaming video from a local TV station is indeed in that DMA.

Goodmon said he regarded the Internet as simply one more distribution platform for his station, and indicated he was happy to use any available platform.

Questioned late in the program, Goodmon rejected the idea that it is appropriate in any way for a viewer to receive a local station outside of its DMA via a service such as Slingbox.

CREATION OF AN IPTV SYSTEM

Sean Strickland of Verizon’s FiOS TV described FiOS TV as the “foundation for receiving any content on any screen at any time. It’s not just TV but audio and video as well as weather and traffic info that is distributed over FiOS TV.”

FiOS TV is not a pure IPTV application but a hybrid of IPTV and traditional cable TV-style RF distribution. Strickland referred to this architecture as RF IPTV and indicated at the time Verizon planned its deployment of FiOS TV, IPTV was not yet a sufficiently robust or proven technology. As a result, on-demand and interactive content are delivered using IPTV technology while broadcast of video channels uses traditional cable TV broadband technology.

Omar Javaid of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO explained that MediaFLO acquired nationwide spectrum on UHF Channel 55 and created a service provider for the distribution of content to mobile users over that spectrum.

MediaFLO does not have end users as customers but currently works with telephone companies. It is the telcos that deliver the content to the end user. MediaFLO has already launched with Verizon Wireless and plans to launch an additional service with AT&T Wireless (formerly Cingular) later this year.

IPTV and Internet technology seem to be enabling technologies with the ability to advanced services to viewers. As these technologies evolve and carve out their niche in the marketplace, these technologies and the business plans that embrace them are sure to be topics of discussion at NAB2010 and beyond.

The session was moderated by Jimmy Schaeffler of The Carmel Group.

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