Archive for July, 2009

You down with OTT?

July 31, 2009

Less than $20 on Blu-Ray!Brian Mahony is and thinks there is plenty of room in the pipe for everyone to play nicely. A few weeks ago, during the IP&TV Forum North America event, he blogged about it. Want to read it? Here is goes:

Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse at IPTV Forum: Over the Top Video Threat is Overblown – Trender Research™: “Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse at IPTV Forum: Over the Top Video Threat is Overblown”

However, it seems like the Subscription television providers, IPTV, satellite, and cable, are using time as their ally, not technology. Relying on a format war may work, or they may get swept up by the undercurrent once something new takes the world by storm. Remember, we are talking about IP. For those that don’t recall, the I stands for internet, and it has happened before in these waters.

For those who just walked in, OTT refers to a service that delivers programing using the internet Over the Top of the same carrier’s traditional TV service. For example, you have a bundled cable and internet package. You then use the internet service to surf over to and watch one of their shows. You are going over the top of traditional internet services, such as email or web surfing, to watch TV that could be viewed using the traditional means. Good for you!

Cable Multi System Operators (MSO) are no doubt keeping an eye on OTT service closely. Today’s interactivity is underutilized, but at least the system supports the technology fairly well. Great examples are the interactive weather and traffic. The majority of the Cable MSO bundle internet services and if there is a way to monetize their bandwidth, you can rest assured they are looking at how find it.
Alex Limberis, from Popcorn Hour (Thanks, Karen) writes how Cable MSO are combating in their own way, such as the YES Network streaming games on the web. You can read the latest post here:

Connected and Digital Media
Over the top or into the snare? Will true over the top take off?

Satellite, by way of the DVB organization, is considering getting into the IPTV game for themselves. They published a questionnaire a while back. This would appear to be a business move to leverage economies of scale and tap into third party applications. Or it may simply be survival mechanism of getting the most of the current infrastructure. Perhaps a move to IP alleviates capacity issues, along the lines of switched cable.
Today, satellite companies have a number of home cooked interactive features, notably on YES (them again) for sport statistics. The biggest problem, and it is not apparent how, or even if IPTV solves it, is the in-band lag time. If out-of-band means are used, for example calling up to order Video on Demand, the lag is acceptable. Interactivity between the viewer and the satellite system, today, falls short of terrestrial offerings.
Will IPTV improve this? It may take an asynchronous back channel to round out the puzzle. Not with out precedent. Back in the day, DirectPC was an Internet service offered by a satellite company. It used a fast satellite down link and requests were made using a dial-up connection, no worse than any other service at the time. State of the art or ahead of its time? Many STB vendors (TiVo, Moxi, etc.) operate with both these connections: coax for TV and Ethernet/USB for Wi-Fi. A similar service may open up even more possibilities beyond OTT. Social Networking widgets, anyone?
FIOS and U-verse already see the handwriting on the wall. As Mahony writes, they have the scalable network to catapult OTT and not get caught in the undercurrent. The key, as always, is how to get paid. They appear to also have the advantage of trying out and re-using models from their cellular systems. And if you believe the internet, AT&T may have a leg up. Stay tuned.


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