SBC Says Its on Track to Deliver Video Services

SBC Communications Inc. at TELECOM 05 yesterday let the industry know its on track with plans to deliver video services as part of its Project Lightspeed strategy, which aims to reach 18 million households by mid-2008.

The company just completed a field trial of video, will make its early market entries with the service late this year or early next, and in mid-2006 expects to scale to more markets. Thats the word from Lee Ann Champion, senior executive vice president of IP operations and services at SBC, who spoke with USTelecoms Walter B. McCormick Jr. at the top of yesterdays keynote lineup.

SBC Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, who had a last-minute schedule change, appeared via video for an abbreviated keynote speech preceding Champions appearance. To tell you the truth, Im in San Diego today trying to get some of Jim Robbins customers to switch to DSL, Whitacre joked, referring to the Cox Communications president and CEO, who gave a keynote speech later that morning.

IPTV is truly whats next for SBC and its customers, said Whitacre. We will change the way people watch television, he added, noting that telcos will get there faster under the correct regulatory conditions.

Switched video gives customers more control by outfitting them with faster channel changing, the ability to deliver more programming options since the system sends only the content customers want to their televisions, whole-house DVR, split-screen TV viewing and more, said Champion. This is unique, she said. This is unique to IPTV.

On the technology front, Champion indicated that all the stars have aligned to make now the right time to launch its IP-based triple-play strategy. That includes new bandwidth available due to compression advancements and dropping costs for next-generation access network equipment. If you look across the world, its happening everywhere all across the globe, Champion said, referring to IPTV deployments. That means economies of scale and a drive toward standards for the industry as a whole, she added.

Integration really is the next big thing, Champion continued. Because SBC has chosen IPTV, it will be able to integrate with broadband video and IP-based wireless services, thus giving customers the ability to connect to their world whether theyre at home, at the office or on the go, she said.

That integration could, for example, enable subscribers to store TV programming on their digital phones for viewing later on. It would allow them to set their DVRs and parental controls remotely from a cell phone. Integration also would mean people could have a single, centrally located e-mail and phone number address book for all their communications needs.

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