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January 23, 2008

The Rise of IPTV and What It Means

By Brian Solomon, TMCnet Web Editor

Over the past decade, things like satellite service, digital cable and HDTV have altered the TV landscape. But a new delivery method is threatening to shake things up more than ever before. Internet Protocol Television, otherwise known as IPTV, has arrived. Backed by the telecommunications industry, IPTV (News - Alert) has the potential to offer more interactivity, as well as add greater competition to the business of selling TV.
IPTV refers to a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream that is encoded as a series of IP packets. If you've ever watched a video clip on your computer, then you've used an IPTV system. But usually, IPTV refers to watching traditional television channels, where users demand a smooth, high-res, lag-free picture. Now the telecomss are jumping into this market. Once known strictly as phone companies, the telecoms are now offering a "triple play" of voice, data, and video.
Though IP can be used to deliver video over many different networks, telecoms are the most aggressive players at this time, pumping billions of dollars into new fiber rollouts and backend infrastructure. AT&T (News - Alert) alone signed a $400 million deal for Microsoft's IPTV Edition software, for example, as well as a $1.7 billion deal with hardware maker Alcatel. The sudden enthusiasm for the TV business can be attributed to the telecoms’ recognition that the stakes are higher than just TV. Companies offering the triple play are seeking to become the household's only communications link. IPTV is a large part of that strategy.
Brian Solomon is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To see more of his articles, please visit Brian Solomon’s columnist page
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