Convergence is finally here. For what else is triple play, the delivery of Internet, phone and TV over the same connection? Providers can deliver all three at lowered costs, but deployment has been slower than expected. If you h
ave ever watched a video on YouTube, you can say you have experienced IPTV (Internet Protocol Television). But IPTV more specifically refers to the delivery of traditional TV channels directly on the television screen. While one can forgive a YouTube video for being grainy and jerky, watching TV delivered over the Internet must be of the highest quality. IPTV promises channel zapping, interactivity, picture-in-picture, digital video recording, and High-Definition capabilities. Another promise of IPTV is to deliver content to the user whichever screen is using at the time by connecting TV, PC and other IP devices.
Comcast, for one, is promoting a triple play subscription for $99 a month for the first year. The on-demand portion of the package includes TV shows, movies, music and documentaries. Verizon’s Triple Freedom offer also flirts with the $100 mark. AT&T’s Quad Pack is the most expensive at $134 a month. For comparison, the leading Internet service providers in France offer triple play for around 29 euros a month ($39 a month).
The number of IPTV subscribers in North America is projected to more than double in 2007, reaching 1 million homes, according to Strategy Analytics. In four years, it will be 11 million. But according to a report from Telephony Online, telcos deploying the new technology have suffered significant headaches and AT&T’s CTO Chris Rice told BusinessWeek that rolling out IPTV was “a lot more complex than people thought it would be.” Many of the problems stemmed from the middleware, some of it developed by Microsoft. As a result, 2006 saw slower adoption than expected and 2007 is now touted as the year IPTV will take over in North America.
Joost, the P2P player
Joost, the latest project from the founders of the Voice over IP service Skype, is not officially available yet, but it is generating lots of interest including from venture capitalists who have poured $45 million into the project. Because Joost is based on peer-to-peer technology, every viewer both downloads and uploads data, contributing to the bandwidth available.
Available in beta, Joost lets viewers watch high-quality TV programs and promises the interactivity that Internet users have come to expect. Searching, chatting and instant messaging with other views are part of the experience. Viacom, Warner Music, Endemol ad the NHL are among the content providers who have signed contracts with Joost. Isabelle Boucq for Atelier
FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org