Wednesday, August 17, 2005

SBC Selects Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta for IPTV Set-top Boxes

SBC Communications has awarded IPTV set-top box contracts to both Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola. The contracts, awarded by SBC Services Inc., give equal market opportunity to both vendors and continue through the end of 2008. SBC provided a common set of specifications to both vendors to build the set-top boxes. At this time, SBC said it expects to use Motorola set-top boxes initially when it scales the service, with Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes soon thereafter. Financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

The planned IPTV set-top boxes, which will operate the new Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software, allow multiple video streams to be sent to one set-top box. Additionally, because the boxes will operate next-generation compression technology - either MPEG4 or VC1- the Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are expected to store content approximately twice as efficiently as DVRs provided by other video distributors' DVRs.

Project Lightspeed is the SBC initiative to expand its fiber-optics network deeper into neighborhoods to deliver SBC U-verse TV, voice and high-speed Internet access services. SBC is planning an initial controlled market entry in late 2005 or early 2006. The company plans to add more features and functionality, including whole-home DVR and high-definition functionality, to the SBC U-verse TV offering and enter more markets beginning in mid-2006.

"This is a major technology milestone for IPTV," said Lea Ann Champion, senior executive vice president, SBC IP Operations and Services. "A number of different technology components have come together to ensure the set-top boxes can efficiently support the features and functionality we plan to deliver to our customers."

  • In March 2005, SBC awarded a contract to Scientific-Atlanta to provide IP video network equipment that would enable SBC to acquire, process, encode, and distribute digital media content to subscribers. SBC is currently testing this video network equipment as part of an SBC technical trial. Instead of using a traditional broadcast video system, in which all content is continuously sent to every customer's home, SBC companies will use a switched IP-video distribution system. In the switched IP-video network, only the content the customer requests is provided to the customer, freeing up bandwidth to be used for other applications.

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