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AT&T U-verse HDTV - Page 2

post #31 of 4208
Thread Starter 
February 1, 2006
By James S. Granelli, Times Staff Writer

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle broke with mayors nationwide Tuesday by proposing to abolish local pay TV fees and to allow phone companies to sidestep the rules that cable companies currently must follow.

In his state of the city address, Pringle said the typical cable franchise agreements and "other restrictive policies" built into old laws were "standing in the way" of creating a more competitive pay TV market. He wants to allow AT&T Inc. to work on upgrading its network to carry video, even without a written agreement with the city.

Pringle's proposal puts the city in the middle of a heated war between regional phone companies and cable TV operators over rules governing the delivery of television programming.

In siding with AT&T, Pringle parted ways with state and national mayoral and municipal groups including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and its California chapter and the National Assn. of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, a group of local government telecom officials and consultants.

Those groups have insisted that phone carriers play by the same local rules as cable companies in an attempt to ensure, among other things, that all of a city's residents get service.

"Throwing away local franchising is not the solution that will bring competition or rapid entry by competitive providers," Lori Panzino-Tillery, president of the telecom officials' group, wrote in testimony prepared for a U.S. Senate hearing on the issue this month.

As Congress considers making changes to the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, Panzino-Tillery said, it should be careful not to "deprive local governments of the tools necessary to ensure the timely deployment of services within our communities."

Phone carriers have been drumming up political support to get around local bargaining over rights of way, franchise agreements and other issues that the companies say are delaying their pay TV rollout.

Texas, for instance, has adopted legislation to let phone companies obtain statewide video franchises, removing the issue from local control.

AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., California's two major local phone companies, have not begun delivering pay TV here. Nationally, they serve only a few cities, using a technology called Internet protocol television, or IPTV.

Pringle's stance could ease the way for AT&T to put Anaheim on the fast track for getting an IPTV network. He said the city and the carrier were in talks.

"Whether it is through cable, satellites or new concepts like Wi-Fi or this IPTV system, the more choices to the consumer, the better," Pringle said. "Let these various systems compete in price, quality and quantity, and let consumers decide."

However, satellite TV isn't bound by cable rules, and Wi-Fi wireless broadband networks sprouting up in Anaheim and hundreds of cities nationwide aren't yet robust enough to carry pay television.

Through a 5% franchise fee, which is passed on to cable subscribers, Anaheim raises $1.4 million a year in revenue. Pringle said in an interview that the money was important, but he predicted that residents would probably approve eliminating the fee, given their recent vote to drop a city utility tax.

He said that if he had his way, the city would have some kind of simple agreement with AT&T. But he couldn't say whether Time Warner Inc.'s cable unit, which is taking over cable service in the city, would be afforded the same loosening of its obligations.

Dennis Mangers, president of the California Cable & Telecommunications Assn., a cable industry group, said he would welcome any rollback of franchise fees, but he said Pringle needed to clarify what other changes he sought.

AT&T already has begun upgrading its network, said Mark Leslie, a local AT&T executive. But he would not give a date for starting service or completing work.

As for reaching all residents, he said: "We will start out with a small footprint and, over time, expand on it."

post #32 of 4208
Thread Starter 
$20 Billion Question
By Karen Brown 2/6/2006

AT&T Inc. continues to glow about its plan to beam television programming and other services as pulses of light on glass fibers feeding into neighborhoods around the country, this time telling a group of analysts at a New York conference last week that the technology will force cable operators to pony up $20 billion or more in network upgrades to keep pace.

Through AT&T's Project Lightspeed, customers will be able to receive three streams of regular TV programming, one high-definition signal and high-speed Internet service, all at once, said John Stankey, AT&T's senior executive vice president and chief technology officer. Connections will operate at 20 Megabits per second or more, he said.

Other technology improvements, such as better video compression, will free up even more bandwidth to deliver multiple HD streams, which we expect to deliver in mid to late 2007 as well as additional headroom for bandwidth in those circumstances where it is needed, Stankey said.

By contrast, Stankey said cable operators will face a constrained cable plant because of their dependence on coaxial cabling, which has less capacity, he said. Cable also faces limited prospects for improvement in quadrature amplitude modulation, the core transmission technology that packs data bits onto signals sent through cables, he said.

Cable operators can fit more data within the signal by varying the height and the length of the carrier waves.

To keep up with what AT&T is doing, Stankey said, cable operators will still be forced to either cut analog channels or switch to new compression technologies such as MPEG-4, which can deliver an HD signal at half of the bandwidth of the current 19.8 Megabit-per-second MPEG-2 stream. MPEG-4 broadcast, though, will require costly new set-top boxes and network-transmission gear, Stankey said.

Consequently, the reality is they are going to be faced with significant spending at the low end probably around $20 billion in the coming years, he told the analysts.

But Lightspeed won't come cheap for AT&T, either. It expects to spend $1.4 billion this year, $1.7 billion in 2007 and $1.3 billion in 2008 for construction. That will buy Lightspeed a growing network that reaches 3 million homes passed now to 9 million homes by the end of 2007 and 18 million homes by the end of 2008.

Project Lightspeed is expected to expand from a controlled deployment in San Antonio, starting some time this summer. AT&T plans to roll out a Lightspeed-powered video service known as U-verse to more than 20 markets by the end of this year, Stankey said.

At $4.4 billion total for the next three years, the capital expense is a little higher than we thought, due to our desire to build a more robust core video infrastructure, Stankey said.

For that, AT&T will build two Internet Protocol superhub offices one of which is already built and operational. AT&T won't say where they're located, but the superhubs will receive and process video content, sending it in a compressed format to regional video hub offices in each metropolitan market served. From there, the video go to local offices, serving an area a little larger than a traditional local office now supplying digital connections to customers.

By replacing copper with more fiber links reaching closer to the customer premise could save the telco as much as $700 million in annual operational costs by 2011, Stankey said. Stankey noted replacing copper with fiber optic line in the segments between the central office and a digital multiplexer the telco equivalent of a cable headend will cut out 99% of the maintenance costs for that segment. Likewise, replacing the segment from the multiplexer to the neighborhood drop connecting to customers will cut maintenance costs 47%.

It also can ramp average revenue per user, particularly when it comes to video now delivered under AT&T's co-marketing agreement with EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network direct-broadcast service.

For just video, AT&T estimates its average revenue per U-verse IPTV user will be at least $60, in line with the typical monthly revenue for existing AT&T DISH customers, and there is no reason Lightspeed can't match or exceed these levels, Stankey said.

AT&T also expects U-verse to claim 30 percent of the television homes in markets it serves, by 2010.

By the time AT&T extends Lightspeed at mid-year, it also aims to increase its lineups of cable networks and on-demand title s, including more HD channels. It also plans to have in place a digital video recorder service that can ship around content to multiple sets in the home, Stankey said.

We're working with some of the best in the business to make this technology and network a reality, and we fully expect to launch our service by mid-2006, Stankey said.

post #33 of 4208
Thread Starter 
San Francisco Chronicle
TV, Web move closer yet, using a telephone line
Ellen Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, February 6, 2006

A few years ago, a team of Microsoft engineers invited some SBC executives to a small Mountain View apartment. The engineers had jury-rigged an Xbox gaming console into a set-top box to control the television set.

The SBC executives were getting their first glimpse of IPTV, or Internet Protocol Television, which uses your phone line to deliver programming to your television. Much like cable or satellite television, IPTV uses a set-top box that allows customers to cruise hundreds of channels such as HBO, MTV and ESPN, and order movies and other shows anytime through video-on-demand.

"It looked really good," said Peter Barrett, chief technology officer of Microsoft TV. "The hair on the back of everybody's neck stood up, and they said, 'Wow, we really have something here.' "

Now SBC, which has since changed its name to AT&T, plans to roll out IPTV in the Bay Area, possibly as early as this year. Once it does, IPTV will offer another alternative for television service in the Bay Area and an entirely new way of delivering it to your home.

IPTV uses the same kind of technology that delivers high-speed Internet service to the computer. That opens the door to a host of new, untapped features, such as more interactivity and the potential for thousands, as opposed to hundreds, of channels.

"There are a lot of future applications," said Michelle Abraham, principal analyst at In-Stat, a technology research firm. "Videoconferencing through your television is one of the things they're talking about, or being able to chat with friends as the television program is going on."

Note: IPTV isn't the same as getting television programs through the Internet. Google, Yahoo, Apple and others are doing that -- offering television shows through their Web sites, from episodes of "Survivor" to amateur video produced by everyday Internet users.

With television through the Internet, the shows aren't live, and consumers have to stream or download them from the Internet to their personal computers.

IPTV, on the other hand, is managed by a telecommunications company like AT&T and is transmitted through a private, closed network to your living room. AT&T, like cable and satellite television providers, also controls the television programming it offers.

IPTV "is what we're used to today, but better," said Christine Heckart, general manager of marketing for Microsoft TV. "We're not in the same market (as Google, Yahoo and Apple)."

Big expenditures

AT&T is spending between $4.2 billion and $4.8 billion to upgrade and ready its network for IPTV.

In November 2004, it struck a $400 million partnership with Microsoft to develop IPTV software. It also made a $1.7 billion deal with Alcatel, the French telecommunications equipment-maker, to put together the necessary equipment.

That's quite an investment. But telecommunications companies, facing competition from cell phone, cable and other companies, are trying to move into new areas to compensate for their declining landline telephone business.

If all goes as scheduled, AT&T plans to have IPTV in as many as 3 million homes this year, with the goal of reaching 18 million homes by 2008. Despite speculation about delays, including problems with Microsoft's software, AT&T said it is on track, beginning with a test run in San Antonio in December.

"We've been pretty true to the schedule," said Jeff Weber, AT&T vice president of product and strategy. "There are things we work through every day, but no delays and no slips in the path we're on."

Weber declined to specify when it will offer the service in the Bay Area, but last year, AT&T Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre, speaking at an event in San Francisco, said he expects customers here to start seeing it during the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, what threatens to slow it down is the regulatory battle that AT&T is wrestling with on both on a national and local level as it seeks to deploy "Project Lightspeed" to improve its network.

Walnut Creek, for one, is requiring AT&T, like its main competitor, cable provider Comcast Corp., to pay the city a fee to offer IPTV in the area. AT&T, which has sued the city, contending that the network upgrade isn't all about television, but other services as well.

AT&T needs to update its network because for IPTV to work, high-speed Internet has to reach about 20 to 25 Mbps. Currently, AT&T offers 1.5 to 6 Mbps high-speed Internet service.

How it works

IPTV works by breaking the latest "Lost" episode into packets and sending them to your television, in much the way e-mail is sent to your computer.

That technology gives IPTV a degree of flexibility that cable and satellite providers don't have, said Tim Krause, Alcatel's North America chief marketing officer. Unlike traditional television, the IPTV set-top box does not store the hundred or so channels; instead, there is a constant two-way communication between the customer and AT&T. Select a channel, and the set-top box will retrieve the television show from AT&T's servers.

That means IPTV could theoretically offer an infinite number of channels, limited just by cost, including more high-definition and niche programming, from foreign-language soap operas to games of cricket to old episodes of "Howdy Doody."

"On the Hollywood studio side, they can dust off all this content that's been sitting on the shelves because no one was willing to offer it," Krause said.

IPTV could even potentially allow subscribers to have their own television channel where they could share their photos and video with their friends and neighbors or even the rest of the world.

Simultaneous viewing

With IPTV, couch potatoes will also be able to watch a lot more television at the same time: Microsoft's software allows users to keep an eye on six sports games at the same time, on the same screen, or study one game from multiple camera angles, or even channel surf at the bottom of the screen while the regular television show is still playing.

In the future, because the same kind of technology will join telephone, Internet and television services, it could allow consumers to program their recorders through the Internet or their cell phones, instant message during a television show, video conference through their television sets and see the image of the person who is calling during a show.

And it creates new opportunities to make television more interactive, such as ordering a product online that's been featured on a television show. "IPTV takes it to a new level," said Sam Pemberton, CEO of Softel-USA, which develops interactive television technology. "The technology enables greater imagination."

Not all of these features are novel. Comcast said it is already deploying many of the same features, such as caller ID on your television screen.

"AT&T is spending years and billions of dollars to imitate a network that Comcast has already built," Comcast spokesman Andrew Johnson said in a statement. "We've seen nothing ... that we can't exceed."

The threat of AT&T could lead to more competition and lower prices. AT&T declined to detail how much it plans to charge subscribers for IPTV, though it said it would be competitive with cable and satellite prices.

In parts of Europe and Asia, as well as just north in Sacramento, IPTV has already been installed. By 2009, the IPTV industry is projected to hit $3.4 billion in revenue with 8.8 million subscribers, according to the Multimedia Research Group. That's still a small dent in the cable television industry, which draws about 70 million to 75 million subscribers today.

"Cable and satellite services are already very good," said Bob Larribeau, a program director at Multimedia Research Group. "It's going to be tough to pull subscribers away."

SureWest Communications started IPTV in the Sacramento region about two years ago and now has about 11,000 IPTV customers.

One of them is Michael Marando, an information officer with the state's Office of Traffic Safety, who switched over a few years ago after being offered a deal he couldn't resist: 10 Mbps Internet service, as well as television and telephone service, for $100 a month. He had been paying $160 to buy each service separately.

A satellite subscriber before, he noticed that he's able to change channels faster on IPTV.

But the real highlight for him hasn't really been IPTV. Instead, it came after SureWest introduced more than a dozen high-definition channels on IPTV last fall.

"You can see the beads of sweat on (Sacramento Kings basketball player) Ron Artest's eyes," he said about the picture quality. "You can't get that on regular television."
IPTV at a glance

What is it? IPTV is the acronym for Internet Protocol Television, which is live television service delivered through a telephone line. Similar to subscribing to cable and satellite television, it offers hundreds of channels and features like video-on-demand.

What is it not? IPTV is not to be confused with watching television through the Internet. Google, Apple, Yahoo and others have begun to offer that service, in which users stream or download a show onto their computer.

Who's behind it? Telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon are in the process of rolling out IPTV throughout the United States. In the Bay Area, AT&T is in the process of getting the necessary permits to upgrade its network to provide IPTV.

E-mail Ellen Lee at elee@sfchronicle.com.
post #34 of 4208
Nice IPTV overview article from the Chronicle. Thanks for the post. Only a few 'fuzzy' points, such as STBs don't 'store' hundreds of channels, but instead now have all the channels accessible at the STB input, all the time, thus requiring large bandwidths for cable delivery. IPTV, not necessarily just for telephone-line delivery, may be indirectly switched by a IPTV center's servers, but unlike cable VOD (video on demand), the programs aren't stored on servers but are instead switched broadcasts (switched video). So all the channels in the world, and more, could be accessible. Here's a somewhat more technical summary of three switched-video techniques, including IPTV. -- John
post #35 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Lightspeed Lights Up New Nev. Neighborhood
By Karen Brown 2/13/2006 1:02:00 PM

fiber-to-the-premises service, announcing an agreement to extend the network to a new 800-acre development in Kiley Ranch, a community in northern Nevada.

Located in the Spanish Springs Valley in northern Sparks, Nev., Kiley Ranch will be one of the first new-home developments for Project Lightspeed.

AT&T struck the deal with developer Kiley Ranch Communities to offer service through the fiber network, including broadband Internet connections ranging between 1.5 megabits per second and 6 mbps downstream.

It also plans to seek a cable-TV franchise to offer its U-verse video service, which provides 200-plus channels of TV, on-demand video and picture-in-picture features delivered via a digital-video-recorder box.

But at this point, U-verse is only available in portions of San Antonio, as part of a controlled launch. AT&T plans to expand the U-verse universe to other markets starting sometime this summer.

post #36 of 4208
Hmm the SF Chronicle article is comparing SureWest to Lightspeed. Not really a fair comparison as Surewest is FTTH so they aren't going to have the bandwidth problems that at&t is going to face.
post #37 of 4208
Hasn't SBC, (ATT), stated that new construction, (sub-divisions), would be FTTP, but that existing neighbourhoods would be FTTN?
I believe that they are making a huge and costly mistake by only going FTTN for the majority of their potential subscribers, as in the relatively near future, I can see households demanding 3 HD streams concurrently as routine +/- a couple of SD streams. Where's the bandwidth coming from?
post #38 of 4208
Unless it's fiber all the way to the house, it will be inferior to Fios. Wavelength multiplexing to the house means virtually unlimited bandwidth.
post #39 of 4208
Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Unless it's fiber all the way to the house, it will be inferior to Fios. Wavelength multiplexing to the house means virtually unlimited bandwidth.

Horse puckey.
post #40 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Posted on Tue, Feb. 14, 2006

By Scott Marshall

.... The proposal became contentious when an AT&T representative gave the City Council a presentation on IPTV on Jan. 24 -- which was immediately blasted by a cable trade group representative.

The city is negotiating with AT&T to begin offering the new service, called Project Lightspeed, which would offer video, high-speed Internet access and voice service 25 times faster than what's available now on DSL. It would allow customers to select their own programming.

Jeffrey Sinsheimer, vice president for law and public policy for the California Cable and Telecommunications Association trade group, insisted to the council that Project Lightspeed is a cable system, which would require a franchise agreement under federal law.

San Ramon already has a franchise agreement with Comcast, a member of the trade group.

Shiyama Clunie, an AT&T manager, said Project Lightspeed is not a cable service as defined under San Ramon municipal code, state law or federal law. It would deliver video programming over a switched, two-way interactive IP-based network, which is different than a cable system, Clunie told council members.

Project Lightspeed is an upgrade, but it also would require installation of more than 41 above-ground cabinets throughout the city, Clunie said. It wouldn't be available to most residents for up to five years, Clunie said.

The cable association wants like services regulated similarly, and not differently from one another simply because their technologies are different.

SBC, which is now AT&T, sued the city of Walnut Creek last year over this same issue. The Walnut Creek City Council refused to permit video services as part of the upgrade of phone and Internet services without a written franchise agreement. The Lodi City Council made a similar finding Dec. 21.

The San Ramon council voted 3-0 to authorize an agreement with AT&T. The city is negotiating with AT&T but is not near an agreement, said City Attorney Byron Athan.

The council is holding a public hearing to consider several aspects of the proposal, including whether any agreement would have any impact on the city's involvement in universal cable service.

Scott Marshall covers the San Ramon area. Reach him at 925-743-2216 or smarshall2@cctimes.com.

Information: 925-973-2500 or visit www.ci.san-ramon.ca.us

post #41 of 4208
Thread Starter 
By Ted Hearn 2/13/2006 5:33:00 PM

Senate Commerce Committee leaders are developing a plan that would empower a federal-state panel to propose changes to cable-franchising laws in an effort to bring uniformity and predictability to the process.

The federal-state joint board would be created by a new law this year, and its recommendations would be codified in another law next year, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens said Monday, two days prior to a cable-franchising hearing before his panel that is to include testimony by Cablevision Systems Corp. chief operating officer Thomas Rutledge.

The idea would be that some of the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and some of the state [public-utility regulatory] people would come up with some recommendations and we next year could enact a solution that would deal with that problem of franchising, Stevens told reporters after an address to state regulators in which he said demands by local governments on new cable entrants border on extortion and ought not to be permitted in the franchising process.

I understand one demanded a new football field, Stevens said, adding that he was also concerned about burdens on cable incumbents seeking renewals.

Stevens said he borrowed the idea from the joint board Congress created in 1996 to keep the local-phone-subsidy program, which was designed to bring affordable communications to rural America.

post #42 of 4208
Speaking as a resident of the Bay Area . . .

Originally Posted by San Francisco Chronicle View Post

Weber declined to specify when it will offer the service in the Bay Area, but last year, AT&T Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre, speaking at an event in San Francisco, said he expects customers here to start seeing it during the first half of this year.

Yay! Happy warm fuzzies all around!

Originally Posted by Contra Costa Times View Post

Project Lightspeed is an upgrade, but it also would require installation of more than 41 above-ground cabinets throughout the city, (AT & T Manager Shiyama) Clunie said. It wouldn't be available to most residents for up to five years . . .

Boo! Five fricking years?!?
post #43 of 4208
Thread Starter 
By NICK SLOAN, Special to The Kansan

The Video Competition Act, Kansas Senate Bill No. 449, has seen and will continue to see heavyweight corporations go at it.

The bill is supported by AT&T and opposed by cable companies such as Time Warner Inc. and Cox Communications Inc. Cox and Time Warner believe that the bill would give AT&T special treatment in the video market. The bill would allow the amending of laws covering cable franchises, making it easier for AT&T and other firms to offer alternative video services.

While the battle is primarily focused between the corporations, Time Warner's Director of Public Affairs Damon Porter believes that the main losers of the bill could be the consumers of Wyandotte County, and other counties in the state of Kansas.

Wyandotte County residents should be the most concerned, Porter told The Kansan.

Porter charged that the bill would allow AT&T to cherry-pick its customers based on how much money each consumer spends on the different services. He added that the company would get to decide, not the public, on who would be serviced, and that it's a bad bill all around.

Porter believes that if customers just want the basic, simple package from AT&T, the company may have the right to not serve them. He also said that customers would have to spend between $250 and $350 to receive service from AT&T.

It [the bill] does not have the consumer's interest at heart, Porter said. There is no consumer protection with this bill. He also stated that the wording of the bill might create the scenario where entire neighborhoods fail to get service.

The bill would be similar to one passed in Texas recently. Due to this bill, the introduction of one in Missouri, another bill introduced in Detroit and one in Lenexa, Porter and Time Warner were ready for the bill to be introduced in Kansas.

We had the Texas model to look at, Porter said. Along with being prepared for the bill, Porter and Time Warner were prepared for the fight that has started, and will continue for the foreseeable future.

As long as the bill stands as it is, there will be a fight, Porter said.

Along with the consumer's interest, Porter also charges that the bill would give AT&T a significant advantage over its competitors and that it would not be a level playing field.

Porter noted that in the Lenexa case, AT&T rejected an expedited franchise, passed by Lenexa's city council. Porter said that the franchise offered would have maintained a level playing field, requiring SBC/AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Everest to operate under the same set of rules.

However, President of AT&T Kansas David Kerr defends the bill and said that residents in Kansas will benefit with the bill's passing.

The bottom line is that it provides competition, said Kerr late last week to The Kansan. There is a need for competitive alternates. Kerr also said that the bill is consumer friendly and that AT&T is not the first carrier to attempt what the bill is doing.

Kerr also stated that AT&T has been aggressive to provide consumers as quickly as the company can. The company announced Project Lightspeed, which Kerr, and AT&T, believes that can reach 18 million nationally over the next three years. He also said that AT&T has spent $4 billion to lay fiber-optic cables deeper into individual neighborhoods, in order to provide service faster. The company plans to enter the TV market and Internet market this year.

However, Porter maintains that the bill would allow cherry-picking of customers and he has his supporters. He said that many organizations regarding civil rights are concerned with the bill, and other consumer groups.

However, like Porter, Kerr and AT&T has their share of supporters with the bill.

Several consumer groups support the bill, he said. Kerr said that the NAACP supports the bill as well.

Porter also had meetings with members of the Unified Government.

There are concerns from them, he said. However, he also said that he's not in the position to say whether they are for or against the bill.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 25, and it was referred to Commerce the next day. The Senate hearing took place on Feb. 7. There have not been any actions since the meeting and both sides believe that there will be a long fight.

post #44 of 4208
Originally Posted by thebishman View Post

Hasn't SBC, (ATT), stated that new construction, (sub-divisions), would be FTTP, but that existing neighbourhoods would be FTTN?
I believe that they are making a huge and costly mistake by only going FTTN for the majority of their potential subscribers, as in the relatively near future, I can see households demanding 3 HD streams concurrently as routine +/- a couple of SD streams. Where's the bandwidth coming from?

Wouldn't that depend on the bit rates, compression, etc. of the streams? I hafta believe AT&T won't be sending standard MPEG2 streams.
post #45 of 4208
Originally Posted by thebishman View Post

Hasn't SBC, (ATT), stated that new construction, (sub-divisions), would be FTTP, but that existing neighbourhoods would be FTTN?
I believe that they are making a huge and costly mistake by only going FTTN for the majority of their potential subscribers, as in the relatively near future, I can see households demanding 3 HD streams concurrently as routine +/- a couple of SD streams. Where's the bandwidth coming from?

It was my understanding that new construction would be FTTH, and FTTN for existing homes.
post #46 of 4208
Originally Posted by bgooch View Post

Lightspeed Lights Up New Nev. Neighborhood
By Karen Brown 2/13/2006 1:02:00 PM

AT&T struck the deal with developer Kiley Ranch Communities to offer service through the fiber network, including broadband Internet connections ranging between 1.5 megabits per second and 6 mbps downstream.


I thought the internet speeds were going to be much higher with lightspeed.
post #47 of 4208
Originally Posted by rollerfink View Post

I thought the internet speeds were going to be much higher with lightspeed.

When you're trying to get data, voice, and video service over 20-25Mbps ... you gotta be judicious.

Although, I am surprised they aren't offering a higher data speed that only gets dynamically throttled when you are also using video and / or voice.
post #48 of 4208
Thread Starter 
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/15/2006 10:12:00 AM

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre pledged to the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday that their companies were prepared to pay the same franchise fees cable pays" if the government streamlines the franchise process.

At a hearing on video franchising, Seidenberg also promised to "carry public, educational and government (PEG) channels; supports preserving local governments' authority over rights-of-way; and expects to be subject to federal redlining rules that apply to cable" for its FiOS video service.

The committee is rewriting the 1996 Communications Act to reflect the advent of broadband. A number of bills have been introduced to create a state or national video franchise process to speed telco and other competition to cable.

Whitacre argued that without state or national franchising, AT&T will have to strike 1,600 local franchising deals to roll out its video service. If we completed one deal a week, he said, that would take 30 years.

The committee appeared to be unanimous in its commitment to do something to ease entry so that neither new entrants nor incumbents are competitively disadvantaged, but also to protect the interests of municipalities and consumers, which Senator John Kerry (D- Mass.) called a vital but difficult balancing act.

post #49 of 4208
Thread Starter 
McCain Proposing A La Carte Bill

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/15/2006 10:43:00 AM

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) a frequent critic of cable rates, used a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on video franchising Wednesday to say he would introduce a bill encouraging a la carte cable offerings.

After again laying into the cable industry over rising rates and saying consumers have few competitive options, McCain said he planned to introduce a bill that would free new cable competitors from local franchising regs if they, in turn, would agree to offer their video channels a la carte.

That bill would be one of a growing number of proposed bills to streamline the video franchising process to encourage broadband roll-out and price and service competition to cable.

McCain's goal is at least twofold: Lower cable bills and give parents more control over cable indecency, which is beyond the reach of the FCC.

post #50 of 4208
Originally Posted by oktoberrust11 View Post

It was my understanding that new construction would be FTTH, and FTTN for existing homes.

FTTP = Fibre To The Premises, i.e. FTTH, (Fibre To The House).
post #51 of 4208
Originally Posted by thebishman View Post

FTTP = Fibre To The Premises, i.e. FTTH, (Fibre To The House).

FTTN= Fiber to the Node.
post #52 of 4208
Originally Posted by rollerfink View Post

I thought the internet speeds were going to be much higher with lightspeed.

The bulk of the bandwidth is reserved for video. My guess is that AT&T doesn't want competition for its higher-end data services, and doesn't want to give anyone any ideas of sharing one 25Mbps data line between 4 - 5 neighbors over wifi.
post #53 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Armey Praises Senators' Competition Commitment

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/15/2006 4:27:00 PM

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, now co-chairman of conservate group Freedomworks (lower taxes, smaller government), Wednesday praised six Senate Commerce Commitee members for their support of video franchise regulation reform.

The John-heavy list comprised Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)

In advance of a Wednesday hearing on video franchising, the six signed a statement of principles supporting competition and some revision of current franchising regs, saying: Federal, state, and local policies regulating the offering of video services were developed in a different period. Laws, rules, and regulations that were once desirable now serve as barriers to competitive entry and disincentives to network investment, according to Armey.

post #54 of 4208
Caught part of Wednesday's senate hearing where Verizon/AT&T claimed they would pay franchise fees just like cable companies, followed by a Cablecast executive testifying that telcos weren't actually signing up to pay local franchise fees but were instead campaigning against them.

Then I set my DVR, which failed to capture the Q&A portion, and viewed "Lost." Did these obviously conflicting cable/telco claims ever get resolved? -- John
post #55 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Posted on Wed, Feb. 15, 2006
By Scott Marshall and Bonita Brewer

San Ramon is moving to embrace a proposal by AT&T to introduce Internet Protocol Television service -- the same plan being resisted in Walnut Creek and Livermore.

Though Walnut Creek and Livermore have stopped similar proposals, San Ramon appears likely to authorize it.

Project Lightspeed, which AT&T wants to begin introducing this year, would bring television to residential customers through DSL phone connections and super-high speed broadband. Instead of offering one-way video through a cable box, AT&T's service will enable customers to choose programs they want through two-way communication. The company says this would increase competition for television service, thereby benefiting consumers.

AT&T says it does not need a cable franchise to do this because it is a regulated telephone company.

Cable industry officials, meanwhile say AT&T's plan would create an unfair advantage for phone companies. Cable officials add that such "IPTV"-type service should be regulated under existing law to ensure it wouldn't hurt consumers in poor communities.

San Ramon agrees with AT&T, and Tuesday night authorized City Attorney Byron Athan to draft a resolution supporting it. It ultimately will be marketed as AT&T U-Verse, said AT&T spokesman Gordon Diamond.

The council held Tuesday's hearing as a precaution. Federal law requires a public hearing when a city wants to grant an additional cable franchise, and the city has a franchise with Comcast.

The City Council authorized the agreement last month, although negotiations are still in progress.

A cable industry representative blasted the proposal at the Jan. 24 San Ramon council meeting when the panel authorized the agreement with AT&T.

In Walnut Creek and Livermore, officials have resisted over concerns of the ultimate definition of IPTV under state and federal law.

In Walnut Creek, SBC began upgrading above-ground copper wires as part of a service upgrade. But the city concluded the lines would complement Project Lightspeed, and that a franchise agreement was needed, said AT&T spokesman Gordon Diamond. SBC, now AT&T, sued Walnut Creek over the disagreement last year.

Meanwhile, Livermore leaders have similar concerns and also have stopped installations of such cabinets. Livermore officials said that in August, SBC representatives came to city officials to discuss Project Lightspeed and equipment installation. The city wanted discussions about a franchise agreement, but none was held.

In early December, SBC applied for a number of encroachment permits for what the city thought was routine work on its regular phone service.

"There was no reference to a system upgrade for Project Lightspeed; our perspective was that it was for routine kind of work commonly done for phone service," said Assistant City Manager Jim Piper.

IPTV in San Ramon and elsewhere would require installation of cabinets that are five feet tall and 31/2 feet wide and other upgrades to AT&T equipment.

"It came to our attention they were in fact installing Lightspeed cabinets and equipment. When we determined that was the case, we sent a letter revoking the permits and telling them to stop work without talking to us first and getting our permission."

At Monday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Marshall Kamena cited "a rather deceiving incident" in which AT&T was issued a permit under what he thinks were "false pretenses."

Further discussions between Livermore and AT&T are planned.

AT&T says it hopes its IPTV will reach 18 million homes by 2008. A majority of San Ramon customers could have it within a few years, according to an AT&T presentation last month.
Staff writer Theresa Harrington contributed to this story. Reach Scott Marshall at 925-743-2216 or smarshall2@cctimes.com. Reach Bonita Brewer at 925-847-2120 or bbrewer@cctimes.com.

post #56 of 4208
Thread Starter 

AT&T Preps for IPTV

by Craig Johnston

SAN ANTONIO: IPTV began coursing through its fiber-optic veins in San Antonio in December, as "the new AT&T" (formerly SBC) rolled out what it terms a "controlled launch" of Lightspeed, the company's telco video-based service.

"It is precisely what we wanted it to be in terms of easy to use, simple, pretty intuitive for customers," said Jeff Weber, vice president of product and strategy at AT&T. "So that is a huge step in the right direction as we think about this product going forward."

Weber's comments were a vote of confidence for the software and user interface from Microsoft, which shipped Version 1.0 of its IPTV platform in October.

Besides IPTV's sing-song, catchy sounding name and the cutting-edge cache of having "IT" integrated into the name, Ed Graczyk, Microsoft TV director of marketing and communications said IPTV changes the very nature of video delivery to the home.

"Fundamentally, all the advantages are really enabled by the fact that all of the services are delivered over this two-way broadband network," he said. "Because it's a two-way network, you can do a lot of the so-called heavy lifting on servers."

In a broadcast environment the "heavy lifting" has to be done in the set-top box.

This speaks to the basic difference between IPTV and the QAM system that has dominated cable and satellite TV to date. With QAM, all channels are sent into the home, where the set-top box or boxes decide which channel to watch.

If 250 channels are being broadcast into your home, Graczyk said, "the set-top ignores the 249 you're not watching and displays the one you are. But those extra 249 take up a huge amount of bandwidth."

With IPTV, each set-top box in the home sends a request to a server located at the service provider, and the server sends back just the channel requested. Regardless of the number of channels available, even if many are HD, the amount of capacity into the home need only be enough to handle one channel per set-top box plus enough for data and voice.

"Twenty to 25 megabytes is in the ballpark as far as a couple TVs and the phone, Internet service, a couple of hi-def channels," said Charlie Guyer, spokesman for Alcatel, the French system integrator for Lightspeed, as well as the provider of critical hardware such as the edge servers.


The 20 to 25 Mbps into the house requirement allows AT&T to use existing copper wiring from a neighborhood-serving node into the home. From that node, up through the network, everything is fiber. Servers at the service provider send individual IP video streams down the network through the serving node and into the house via the copper wire.

Guyer noted that for connecting from a serving node to new construction, "people by and large aren't putting new copper in the ground. If they're opening up the ground they're going to put fiber in."

While some day AT&T may find new services require replacing the copper wire with fiber into the house, "we're always having advances in how we can compress through compression technologies," said Guyer. He noted that IPTV already uses higher compression MPEG-4 or VC-1 rather than the older technology MPEG-2 used by broadcasters and digital cable.

Graczyk said that the ability to use existing copper wiring into homes served is only one of the advantages of IPTV. Another is that the channel switching is done in software on the server rather than in the set-top box.

"Channel tuning time for the consumer is significantly faster than in digital broadcast," he said. "So cable and satellite take one to two seconds to tune a channel; we do it in about 300 milliseconds."

In a demonstration on Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. campus, Graczyk showed a Major League Baseball application where the viewer can watch and listen to one game occupying most of the screen, with three smaller pictures of games taking place at the same time.

When the viewer switches to another game, the two pictures switch places with a DVE-ish move. And though the viewer is watching video from four games at once, they are combined upstream on the network and sent to the viewer as a single channel.

Because the network is truly two-way, a customer can request billing details or order an upgrade without phoning the service provider. "And every call costs around $7.50," Graczyk said.

He cited one cable provider who estimated they got 9 million calls per month. "You can do the math, 9 million times $7.50... if we can offload some little percentage just by giving people the ability to view it online, that's potentially a huge savings."

Because the IPTV infrastructure is computer-friendly, Graczyk said video-on-demand systems can be fully integrated in the service.

"The way VOD evolved in cable, it was kind of like a 'second class citizen,' because you were either in live TV, where you got the guide and you can navigate and change channels, but if you wanted to go to video-on-demand, it's kind of this whole different world."

This makes searching live channels and VOD libraries seamless from the user standpoint.

Because most of the functionality of IPTV is not in the set-top, the boxes themselves will require relatively little updating as incremental changes are made to an IPTV system. The servers will receive most of the upgrades.

With cable TV, "the challenge is, any time the software on the set-top box changes, it has to go through this big, long, expensive certification process with Motorola that's called 'Acadia,'" Graczyk said.

"With IPTV we don't have that restriction, in fact we can roll out these incremental updates very easily," he said.

Guyer said the newness of IPTV has required his company and other partners in AT&T's project to learn and invent as they've gone along. He said of the 30-plus IPTV projects Alcatel is leading or participating in around the world, AT&T is the largest.

"Lightspeed is the one that's under the microscope and everyone is using this as the barometer as far as the future of IPTV," he said.

One of the biggest questions he's seen the network's builder ask is if it will scale. "Will it support 18 million people? That's been a challenge but I think it's being addressed very well. AT&T is hitting all its milestones."

AT&T's Weber echoes that optimism.

"We're in the middle of massive network build, in the middle of, in our case, a complete system build, a new suite of systems that we're implementing, obviously a pretty complicated new technology around the IPTV platform, new set-tops, everything was new and new and new."

In spite of all the pioneering technical effort, he said "all came together in a way that's pretty simple for customers. So there's lot's of interesting technology behind the scenes, but from your perspective, sitting in your living room... turn it on, it's really good quality and it's easy to use."

post #57 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - February 27, 2006
February 24, 2006
Andrew F. Hamm

A battle over how to create a level playing field between television service providers could stall AT&T's move into Silicon Valley living rooms, even as the state Legislature, the Federal Communications Commission and even Congress threaten to intervene.

The company formally known as SBC Communications Inc. does not want to negotiate franchise agreements with individual cities where it plans to provide television service. Instead, it is seeking a statewide or even national franchise agreement that would allow it to quickly move into the television market.

AT&T officials say they have no problems paying a "fee" to local governments -- as long as it isn't labeled a "franchise" or "utility" fee -- but they would prefer to avoid the time-consuming process of negotiating individual agreements with each city.

"Even if we do one city a day, it would take us seven years to gain all the approvals," says AT&T spokesman H. Gordon Diamond. " The city by city process is outdated. We're looking to streamline the process."

San Antonio-based AT&T is upgrading and expanding its fiber optic lines so that it can carry television channels as well as faster broadband Internet and improved voice-over-the-Internet service. The $4.4 billion project is known as "Project Lightspeed."

AT&T contends Project Lightspeed is merely an upgrade of its existing network and therefore it is exempted from any new franchise fee obligations.

Most cities disagree, contending they have a right to a franchise fee as well as regulatory authority because AT&T is using local rights of way to deliver a new service, i.e. television. They also contend a franchise agreement will make sure AT&T follows the same rules cable companies do, namely providing its service citywide and contributing to public access television programming.

The 5 percent fee usually goes into a city's general fund. For instance, Santa Clara collected $890,000 from Comcast Corp. in 2004-05. Santa Clara's general fund budget is $120 million.

AT&T has sued Walnut Creek and Lodi in federal court after those cities refused to issue work permits to AT&T.

AT&T officials would not say how far along its fiber optic upgrade and expansion is in Silicon Valley. However, a random check of six cities showed no permits have been requested by the telecom giant. Mr. Diamond says AT&T has held discussions with virtually every Silicon Valley city on the topic.

The AT&T television service, which will go by the trademark name "U-Verse," could be available to most AT&T customers by mid-year, Mr. Diamond says, but only if the cities get out of the way.

The increased competition in the television-delivery market has many in the state Legislature, FCC and Congress sympathetic to the telecom giant's needs, but there is concern over taking away local community oversight.

Three bills are being introduced in the state Legislature seeking a framework for a statewide franchise agreement. Texas and Virginia currently have statewide franchise agreements with AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., respectfully. The FCC is investigating how to quicken AT&T, Verizon and other telephone companies' entrance into the television market. Both houses of Congress have held hearings on developing a framework for a national uniformed franchise agreement.

However, Comcast, the dominant cable provider in Silicon Valley, and other cable companies are lobbying against statewide and national franchise regulations, claiming it would give AT&T an unfair advantage.

"We didn't have problems getting franchise agreements," says Comcast spokesman Andrew Johnson. "We've invested money in the cities. (AT&T) will be competing with us... Making them follow the same rules makes for a level playing field."

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, understands the problem.

"AT&T wants a level playing field, which from some perspectives looks like it rolls right into their cash register," Mr. Simitian says. "These issues are so complex I'm not sure we are ready to handle it."

However, there is concern in the state Legislature that if it doesn't act quickly, Congress or the FCC will take away any state say in the matter. Mr. Simitian says an "interim solution" to get something on the books may be in the offing, although he admits he isn't sure what that might be right now.

"Neither the market nor the technology is going to wait on the California state Legislature to make up its mind," Mr. Simitian says. "My concern is that among all the pushing and shoving going on, the consumer gets forgotten."

Andrew F. Hamm covers Internet services for the Business Journal. He can be reached at 408-299-1841.

post #58 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Cisco Moves Into the IP Home With Scientific-Atlanta Buy
By Charlotte Wolter
Posted on: 03/01/2006

The Cisco Systems Inc. $7 billion ($5.1 billion net of Scientific Atlanta's cash balance) acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta is billed by Cisco as bringing video into IP, but is as significant because it unites for the first time in one company a strong entertainment video heritage with an IP communications heritage.

Although video has long been incorporated into IP data and communication services, mostly as video conferencing and training video, there has been relatively little crossover between entertainment video and communication services. What video there is on the Internet has been of lower quality than the entertainment video distributed mostly via broadcast, cable or satellite.

Therefore, Cisco's acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, a company with strong entertainment video experience and nearly $2 billion in yearly revenue, positions the company to be as important a player in home entertainment services as it has been in home data services. Some analysts have suggested that Cisco retain the Scientific-Atlanta brand to increase its credibility in the entertainment video world where it has little presence today.

The combination of the two companies also raises the potential for Cisco to take advantage of making IP communications generally more dominant within the home as whole-house systems rather than the separate capabilities of high-speed data, IP voice, and digital and analog video that we see today.

Cisco has the potential to be at the forefront as those worlds move closer together, trumping Microsoft Corp., which has long yearned to be a major player in home entertainment, but has concentrated on the human interface and the set-top middleware rather than the network. A customer may see a program guide by Microsoft, but the services will be delivered and managed over a network system that is powered by Cisco gear.

Further, Scientific-Atlanta already combines IP communication with video in its home products. Many of its set-tops incorporate cable modems or DSL modems, features that can be exploited as the two communication systems start to combine.

At a basic technological level there is already a rapprochement going on between data and entertainment technologies. For more than a decade MPEG-2 has been the gold standard of video compression. When it first appeared, MPEG-4, which came out of the computer world, was considered inferior for serious providers of entertainment video, although the savings in bandwidth were significant. Today, with more powerful chips available to do the compression, MPEG-4 is widely accepted by entertainment video engineers, whose standards of quality are exacting.

MPEG-4 will be a key technology in AT&T Inc.'s Project LightSpeed, where Scientific-Atlanta has a $200 million contract. Scientific-Atlanta (Cisco) will provide a video distribution system that will transport multiplexes of video encoded in MPEG-4 to city headends, where local content will be added.

AT&T generally will combine IP on-demand video with traditional broadcast video (usually digital), with the capability to move individual channels dynamically from on-demand IP to broadcast as consumer demand increases.

MPEG-4 also is being used more and more in IP video communication, such as IP video conferencing and videophones. Therefore, that basic capability in an IP endpoint could support both video communication and video entertainment. This opens a range of new home devices and services beyond today's separate worlds of IP voice and data and video entertainment.

The challenge for Cisco will be to pick its spots in home networks and devices. Today, its major presence in communication in the home is routers, where the company has a dominant position with its Linksys division. It will add TV set-tops with the Scientific-Atlanta acquisition. The question is how Cisco will use those two capabilities, and whether it makes sense to combine those capabilities in one box, such as adding router functionality to a TV set-top.

Another question is what Cisco will do in home-networking. Today, video is moved around homes on coaxial cable while data moves on CAT-5 cabling. Many homes today have both kinds of wires snaking around the household to feed both TVs and computers. Both systems have very high bandwidth capabilities, but Cisco's natural preference likely would be for what it knows best, Ethernet networks. Possibly the future is set-tops and TVs with RJ-45s on the back rather than cable connectors and places to plug in IP phones and computers as well as TVs.

post #59 of 4208
Thread Starter 
Article Last Updated: 03/02/2006 2:50 AM PST
'Lightspeed' resolution seeks to provide level playing field
By Paul Burgarino, STAFF WRITER

SAN RAMON Representatives from the city's current cable provider weighed in on a proposal to bring Internet-protocol television to San Ramon.

Marty Robinson of Comcast and Jeffrey Sinsheimer of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association addressed the council during Tuesday's meeting, challenging claims made by AT&T California that their proposed service upgrade "Project Lightspeed" was not cable television.

City Attorney Byron Athan prepared findings based on a presentation by AT&T representative Richard Parr and a public hearing that was held at the Feb. 14 council meeting.

The council approved the resolution to assist the city staff in negotiations with AT&T.

"It is not the province of the City Council to decide if it is a cable provider." Athan said, adding that will be decided in the courts.

The city attorney also spoke about whether AT&T was getting an unfair advantage.

"As far as a level playing field, I don't think you can have it any more level than proposed in the negotiations that are going on," Athan said. "Every step of the way weare requiring them to give the level of service and every obligation that we could to cable."

Robinson assured the council that Comcast is not fearful of AT&T, but he wanted the city to consider the incumbent company when entering negotiations about Project Lightspeed.

"The level playing field issue is important to us," he said. "We are not asking anything special of you, we are asking you hold AT&T to the standards we are held to and nothing more."

Comcast has a project similar to AT&T's proposal in the works, Robinson said.

"The interesting thing is that Comcast has the ability to provide greater bandwidth," Councilman Jim Livingstone said. "Competition may force them to do that and that's good for the citizens of San Ramon."

Sinsheimer said that he is concerned that the city is relying on AT&T to come to closure on the resolution, saying it's like letting the "fox guard the henhouse."

He said he was there to try to give the council a complete picture of the situation so they could determine of the resolution is "arbitrary and capricious" and contrary to the law.

"The presentation that was made by AT&T is replete with legal and factual errors with respect to the kind of service that they intend to provide," Sinshemier said.

post #60 of 4208
bgooch, thanks for posting these articles, Comcast and the City of Santa Rosa are currently in a 3 year long dispute and I'm hoping ATT will eventually come to town and provide some competition as Comcast is basically dragging their feet with upgrading an old 550Mhz system.
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