Euros dialing up IP-TV


In the penultimate issue of Red Herring, I had written a long piece about IP-TV, and pointed out that Europeans and Asians would whole heartedly adopt the IP-TV, but it will be a bit of a slow starter in the United States. A story in Reuters
says that IP-TV is taking hold in Europe.

A new breed of TV — featuring on-demand programs and choose-your-own music video channels — is delivered over phones lines that are equipped with a high speed Internet connection. TV over phone lines, also known as TV over Internet protocol (TVIP), is already taking root in Europe, with offerings from France Telecom, Italy’s FastWeb, Britain’s HomeChoice and others. There are many more on the way, with Britain’s top fixed-line phone company BT Group in talks with content companies as it prepares to launch its own service. In Washington, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said on Sept. 15 that almost every major U.S. phone company he has talked with is working to develop TVIP offering. Consultancy Multimedia Research Group estimates there will be 15.6 million TVIP viewers by 2007, up from a few hundred thousand today.

IP-TV in US might be a slowstarter for two reasons – first being that today’s technologies allow only one set-top box to be powered by a IP-TV line, i.e. you can use one television with one line and one set-top box. However, most Americans have two or more televisions. Ergo, we need technology to scale up a tad more stateside. The other problem is not that easily fixed – most Americans live too far from the phone company central offices, which means that the phone companies’ would need to pump more data at higher speeds to overcome loss due to distance. I think 2007 might be too optimistic, but 2010 could be a more realistic target for IP-TV in the US.

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