Whats NEXT?

Its been a terrific week here in Las Vegas, with lots of informative, and often entertaining, speeches, sessions and show floor discussions and demos. But all good things must end. This marks the final day for the TELECOM 05 exhibit floor, and the shows conference programs conclude tomorrow.

While working on this current show and well before we all converged at TELECOM 05, the folks at USTelecom were readying for the groups next event TelecomNEXT, which will run from March 19 – 23, 2006, at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

While TELECOM 05 has 50,000 net square feet exhibit space and a pre-show estimate of 7,000 attendees, the TelecomNEXT exhibit floor is expected to be about three times that size.

USTelecom says TelecomNEXT is a new kind of trade show that will bring together the various technologies, services and applications that define the telecommunications marketplace both here and abroad of the 21st century. TelecomNEXT will include

separate, special programs by technical industry group ATIS and investment firm Legg Mason. It also will include an IP video track to focus on the hot area of IPTV, as well as various events addressing content and new applications.

Speaking of video, I think its going to be particularly interesting to watch how telcos are going to position themselves in light of the popularity of streaming video over the Internet. PC-based video might not seem a very attractive offer today, given that most people choose to watch TV, movies and other video entertainment on their TVs. Downloading or streaming video from the Internet to a PC takes more time and technical know-how, and typically has a lower picture quality and screen size.

But as bandwidth to consumer homes increases, Internet-based streaming video becomes more viable. And that means anyone can offer video to end users no more walled garden for video services. How will that affect the cablecos and telcos not to mention the TV/movie studios?

BellSouth Corp., among others, already offers a PC-based video service with Movielink. And Starz Entertainment Group LLC whose president and CEO, Robert B. Clasen, was a keynote speaker this week at TELECOM 05 distributes video programming direct to PC users via the Internet.

But what happens when a third-party company wants to offer streaming video services to consumers via the PC and maybe even provides the means to transfer that video from the PC to the TV? Internet-based delivery of video content also creates a challenge for Hollywood studios, which are no longer able to rule the world of video and now face a challenge by anyone else that wants to create programming.

Some believe the best move for telcos to get ahead of the curve on this is to jump on the bandwagon and start providing improved and competitive products on their Web sites.

Bob Greene, Starz senior vice president of advanced services, recently told me that the company has been in discussions with the telcos and cablecos about allowing them to offer its PC-based video services through a shared-revenue model. Thats a good start.

Paula Bernier

Editor in Chief

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