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Video Over IP slow to take in America

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Video Over IP infrastructures that allow television programs to be distributed as digital files, like email, using the Internet or other low-cost transmission method (like CAT-5 telephone cable).

Beyond The Headlines discussed this “new” trend with Carl Furgusson, TANDBERG Television’s newly named director of business development for the Americas, and what it could mean for his company’s broadcast business. A U.K. company with offices in Orlando, Fla., TANDBERG Television develops and markets a full line of encoders, multiplexers and other related products that facilitate “Video Over IP” delivery of video and audio signals.

BTH: Where is IP technology making the most strides in terms of technical development and deployment in the “broadcast” business?

Furgusson: Based on homes served, the biggest technical developments and deployments have been in Europe, with the U.S. definitely close on its tail. Some of these developments in Europe have been government driven. Sweden is especially advanced in Video Over IP delivery because of the government's push toward creating an infrastructure that will establish almost every home as broadband-enabled over the next few years.

In other European countries, Video Over IP deployments have been moving forward due to the non-existence of alternative delivery platforms, while in others little is happening due to regulatory issues.

BTH: How is the U.S. market different from Europe?

Furgusson: One of the more interesting markets for Video over IP is the U.S. Domestically, there is a wide range of telecommunications suppliers. There are of course the regional telephone companies, but a significant number of independent telcos also exist; particularly in the rural markets. This creates a potentially large dynamic in the U.S. market. The U.S. market also has very high cable penetration, in comparison to most European countries, and these cable companies are now starting to encroach on the traditional telco company business of telephone delivery.

Within Europe we find fewer telephony providers in each country and because of this we are seeing many European cable companies offering telephony service. Most of these developments were established by European governments in an effort to create competition in the telephony business. Now the telcos are pushing their respective regulators to allow them to offer video services to the home. Ultimately there will be competitive platforms offering the "triple play" of telephony, video and high-speed Internet delivery.

I think we are going to see an intriguing competition develop between cable and telephony companies in the U.S. Some cable companies in the states are beginning to offer telephony, and many more are thinking about going this route. Competition between the cable company and the local telephony provider might be the factor that really kick-starts Video Over IP delivery in the U.S.

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