SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Nov. 17 -- SBC Communications Inc. announced today it will use a Microsoft software platform to transmit television over high-speed Internet connections like the ones SBC will offer after replacing the local arteries of its copper telephone network with fiber optic cables.
The deal with Microsoft, valued in excess of $400 million over 10 years, is the first of its kind for any US-based telecommunications provider, SBC said.
SBC Labs has been testing an IP-based television service built on the Microsoft IPTV (internet protocol television) Edition platform since June. SBC companies and Microsoft will begin field trials in mid-2005 and plan commercial availability of the platform in late 2005. In the first quarter of 2005, construction is expected to begin on the SBC Project Lightspeed, the company's initiative to deploy fiber closer to customer locations to provide IP-based services, including IP television, voice-over-IP (VoIP), and ultrafast Internet access. Project Lightspeed is expected to reach 18 million households by year end 2007.
The IP-based TV service would include instant channel changing, customizable channel lineups, video on demand, digital video recording, multimedia interactive program guides, event notifications and content protection features, as well as new features such as Caller ID and instant messaging on the TV screen or alerts when desired programs are about to air.
To enable optimal use of bandwidth, SBC companies plan to use a switched video distribution system, which streams only the content the customer requests instead of broadcasting all channels to everybody at once. The company said this technology frees up large amounts of bandwidth for other applications.
"Our service will change the way people experience TV," said Edward Whitacre Jr., SBC's chairman and CEO. "Finally, customers will watch what they want, when they want, from a virtually unlimited and interactive content selection."
For more information, visit: www.sbc.com/lightspeed