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SBC Details Aggressive DTV Strategy

SBC Communications says it plans to invest $4-6 billion over the next three years to build an advanced, IP-based network to deliver voice, video and data services to its more than 18 million U.S. subscribers.

Network lab and field trials are underway for "Project Lightspeed" and construction is expected to begin in early 2005, the telecom company announced this week. The launch of IP-based TV services over the network is planned for the fourth quarter of 2005.

Project Lightspeed will use both FTTP (fiber to the premises) and FTTN (fiber to the node) technologies. In existing neighborhoods, or (overbuild) situations, SBC plans to use an FTTN architecture, which on average take fiber to within 3,000 feet to homes being served and uses advanced compression technologies along with IP switching to deliver broadband. FTTN can deliver 20-25 Mbps downstream, enough to send four simultaneous video streams, including HDTV, Internet access and VoIP.

FTTP architecture will be used in new housing developments, as well as in some apartment buildings. SBC expects that FTTN will be deployed in one-fourth the time required for an FTTP overbuild and at about one-fifth the capital investment.

"Project Lightspeed provides a number of important advantages--including superior speed to market with exciting, market-changing services, and it allows us to leap-frog today's U.S. telephone and cable TV networks," said Lea Ann Champion, SBC IP operations and services senior executive vice president.

SBC is one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies providing services to more than one-third of the U.S.