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TelcoTV: AT&T previews IPTV’s future

ATLANTA--Based on Peter Hill’s preview of what AT&T Labs has in store for IPTV, most of its new content draws heavily on the ‘IP’ part of the product.

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Hill, vice president of voice and converged services at AT&T, showed about a dozen projects that are being developed in the labs, cautioning the audience that these aren’t necessarily features or services that AT&T will be introducing. Virtually all of what he showed drew heavily on existing Internet content, including Google Maps, airline flight tracking, weather forecasting and video uploading.

A Family Finder service, for example, enables a customer to log on and choose a family member from a list and immediately see where that person is on a map or satellite map, based on the global positioning signal of their cell phone.

“We didn’t create the map--that’s Google, or the GPS,” Hill said. “But that ease of integration when everything is on an IP platform is what is going to differentiate IPTV. We are not having to go out and create a lot of new things. We are reaching out to decades of innovation on the Web and incorporating that into IPTV.”

Hill did say that whole-home digital video recorder service, which enables consumers to record a show on a set-top box and watch it from any other STB in the home, is on the near-term road map, as is more high-definition streams and an AT&T U-verse VoIP service.

He also said improvements in encoding are keeping up with the demand for more bandwidth to deliver HD--a critical issue for AT&T, since it is limited to about 25 Mb/s of bandwidth on its U-verse fiber-to-the-node network.

“The big bear is HDTV,” Hill admitted. “HD content required 8.5 Mb/s until recently. Encoder vendors are doing great, exceeding our expectations, really, and that’s down to 6 Mb/s. The reduction in bandwidth that is required is going much faster than we projected. Encoder vendors are keeping up with the increase in bandwidth demand.”

Among the other applications Hill previewed were:

  • Caller ID and voicemail on the TV screen
  • Video sharing from a cell phone to the TV screen
  • IPTV Webcams
  • Flight tracker, by airline and flight name
  • Sharing of family videos, downloaded to the Web and then displayed on the TV screen
  • Weather on the TV, including static and video forecasts
  • Downloading of podcasts
  • Shopping from a list of available movies, to order DVDs or related content
  • Personalized content portals, with individual favorites of available and recorded content listed for each user in the home

“I don’t know how these are going to come to market,” Hill admitted. “But I’m really excited about it. There is all sorts of potential to create great value for society and our customers.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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