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SBC and Microsoft to Provide HDTV Over IP 267

Chroniton writes "SBC Communications (The #1 DSL provider in the US) is announcing new plans for broadband deployment, including internet, HDTV, and VOIP service: "With today's announcement, SBC will significantly accelerate its previously planned deployment pace and now plans to reach 18 million homes by year-end 2007. Through Project Lightspeed, the company will deploy 38,800 miles of fiber - double the amount used to build out the company's DSL network - at a cost of $4 billion to $6 billion."

This comes in response to an FCC ruling which shields IP-based networks from traditional telecom regulation. Speeds are expected to reach 15-25 Mbps, enough for HDTV: "To take advantage of this new network, SBC companies and Microsoft have begun testing an IP-based switched television service based on the Microsoft TV IPTV platform. This infrastructure would enable features such as standard and high-definition programming, customizable channel lineups, video on demand, digital video recording, multimedia interactive program guides and event notifications. IP-based television services will also allow TVs to interact with other devices in the home, including computers and PDAs." More details available here and here"

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SBC and Microsoft to Provide HDTV Over IP

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  • by elid ( 672471 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:02PM (#10581803) much will something like this cost to the consumer?
  • Not to mention... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Izago909 ( 637084 ) * <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:03PM (#10581807)
    I wonder how the broadcast flag, Microsoft, HD-TV, and DRM are going to play out.
  • by Yaa 101 ( 664725 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:04PM (#10581812) Journal
    Time proves over and over again that things can get worse, and they do... I can't wait for the first stale DRM'ed virus stuck in their systems...
  • Ahh, I see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l33t-gu3lph1t3 ( 567059 ) <`arch_angel16' `at' `'> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:05PM (#10581817) Homepage
    So this is how they're getting around the godforsaken regulatory hell that is telecommunincations in the USA. Clever. And by partnering like this, Microsoft begins its battle to take over the digital TV distribution industry.
    • Gates owns a large portion of Cox Communications if I recall correctly. They are a large cable provider. I've always assumed that "Digital" cable was probably just an IP based network for some time now. I know nothing of this, of course, but I would assume that it would be possible to just constantly stream multicast packets for each channel, each channel being an address. Then the cable box itself is just a router and when you point it at a channel you are only pulling in those packets to be decoded into v
      • In fact, thinking about it some more, to resolve the sync issue, they'd use NTP to sync the clock in the box with the clock at the main server. Then you could stream ahead like 10 seconds which would be enough to buffer but still allow you to "flip" reasonably well. Really though, the FLIP on digital is much much slower than regular cable and is one thing I HATE about digital. I can check out 100 channels in 30 seconds ;)
        • In fact, sorry about this, you could theoretically buffer 10 seconds ahead on all the channels immediately around the channel you're currently on (if you're on 10, buffer 8,9,10,11,12), then you could flip just like regular TV.
  • Already /. (Score:5, Funny)

    by thammoud ( 193905 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:05PM (#10581818)
    Maybe they should string a fiber or two to their own servers.
  • Too much TV (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FiReaNGeL ( 312636 ) <fireang3l@hGAUSS ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:06PM (#10581825) Homepage
    For me HDTV isn't too exciting. Higher resolution. Ok. I never noticed my TV's resolution was not adequate. Don't we have too much TV anyway? With the added possibility to record (Tivo) 40 hours / week of shows that I don't have time to listen to... TV is a productivity and social interaction sink.

    Hurray for the 'turn all TVs off' device!
    • It is your duty to consume, want more, but more etc

      I don't watch any TV (no reception :-)), but I can see a similarity to those people who said "But why would I want CD quality? Tape or LP is fine!". I guess after watching HDTV for a while, going back to old NTSC/PAL will be hard on the eyes.

    • by bujoojoo ( 161227 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:38PM (#10582022)
      TV is a productivity and social interaction sink

      Posted on /.

      'Nuff said...
    • "TV is a productivity and social interaction sink."

      Re: Productivity- Uh, doesn't just about any form of entertainment fall in here?

      Re: Social Interaction- TV is part of social interaction. Don't tell me you've never had a face to face discussion about last week's Star Trek.
    • Agreed, I can't keep up with the 2 shows my wife tapes for us each week. With work, playing with the kids and watching the daily show (natch), we never get around to watching the tapes (yeah, we're still using a VCR, get over it).

  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:07PM (#10581828) Journal
    Is there some sort of regulatory problem in America that restricts users to such low (25Mbps) DSL speeds?
    • More like the current infastructure. There are still a lot of old copper lines floating around, plus a lot of homes are too far from the CO to get DSL period (unless it's slow IDSL). The sheer cost of upgrading it all is what's stopping higher speed services from appearing.
      • So there couldn't be a slow buildout from high-population centers like NY or LA? I'd think that in those areas you'd be on par with cities like Seoul or Tokyo.

        But it doesn't seem to be the case.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      We don't pack 150 million people into an area the size of california. Regulations and infrastructure reflect this.
    • As someone who lives in Korea (and enjoys the fine speeds u talk about ;) I think you will find that the reason you have lower speeds there is because of the geography of the states. I know that the reason why BB is so crap in Australia... there simply isnt enough ppl per square Km to justify lighting billions in fibre. Here i live in the pockets of another 5000 people, so its a bit more viable to have the 100+Mbit connections.

      -- Fuck the grammar police.
  • Since IP based networks are exempt from regulation, does it follow that SBC made this announcement because of that? Sadly, if this is true, it's not really commonplace. In any case, 15-25mbps is more than enough for anyone, unless you want to run your own Web host. :)
  • All I can say:

    1. Yay! Now SBC will have another reason to call me at home 5 times a week and ask me if I'd like fries with my telephone service.

    2. Yay! Is Microsoft in control of fucking everything now?

    • Here, here!

      Greeeeeaaaat. Nimda and CodeRed meet reruns of Seinfeld and Friends. Just what we all need.

    • As an expert on "YAY!" (using the term many times a day) I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about.

      I don't think SBC is bigger in the DSL area than Verizon (who also partners with MS) and it (SBC)is a smaller company as well.

      Remember the Dot-Com Bust? Well just before that companies layed fiber all over the damned place. It's all sitting down there with the earthworms being sold off for pennies on the dollar, so everyone in the "Comm" industry had "big plans" for how to use it. Remember w
  • by DeepFried ( 644194 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:08PM (#10581843) Homepage
    think about how exciting this would be if you replace the word Microsoft in that article with any number of other companies..Sony, Apple, Viacom.

    While no corporation is altrusitic, I wouldn't immediately jump to the "how are they going to screw me on this one" conclusion.
    Sad state of affairs.
    • Out of that list, I would be equally sceptical of all of them... I like Apple and all, but if they were running this you could only watch HDTV on their new $5500 iTV, and if it were Sony you could replace iTV with AtracTV.

      Now, if they replaced MS in the article with, say, EFF or the Mozilla Dev Team, I would get excited. ;-)

    • "think about how exciting this would be if you replace the word Microsoft in that article with any number of other companies..Sony, Apple, Viacom."

      Why people think Sony is any better than Microsoft in terms of greed and desire for control is really beyond me.
  • HDTV over IP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:12PM (#10581875) Homepage Journal
    Already happening, here [] and here [].
  • I dont mean the the TV acting as a router (although in the situation above that would make sense)

    I mean IP on your CELL / Mobile phone and TV images streamed to that

    jack it in to watch on a normal screen... simple

    in order to make money from this you need custom channels

    not like they cell/mobile phone networks are doing now e.g. Orange just putting a digital TV reciver in the phone you need to stream custom content


    John Jones
  • by mrgreen4242 ( 759594 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:16PM (#10581896)
    because today I was wondering wether or not there is a cell phone that has a built in wifi system for VoIP... I want a single phone that lets me use unlimited VoIP service if I am at home or somewhere I am authorized to get on a standard wireless network and then when I am not in range of a wireless AP switches over to a regular cell phone network (keeping the same number) and bills me with on a regular wireless phone plan.

    I think that a decent phone, with some basic web/email/chat features, as well as the cell and wifi connectivity would be worth about $150 (with contract discounts) and $60-70/month (with free long distance all the time, unlimited VoIP service, 500 or so 'anytime' cell minutes, and voicemail, call waiting, etc) to me.

    Is there any sign of this in the near future!?

    • Various companies are working on exactly that, but I wonder if it's worth it. Cellular/Wi-Fi roaming is so complex that it's going to cost a lot, which means they will charge you a lot for it. So in the end it'll probably be cheaper just to use a regular cell phone.
      • I can't see how this would be troublesome at all. Give me a cell phone that, with a WiFi card that 'wakes up' when it connects with an AP and can ping the server of the VoIP provider. It could only work on networks where you have preconfigured the AP for all I care. When the phone detects/connects a full WiFi/VoIP connection is just sets the calls to go thru there. To make it easier, you could actually have 2 phone numbers, one for the cell service and one for VoIP, but have them ring each other or forwar
  • I want it now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:17PM (#10581897) Homepage Journal
    Over the air HDTV is just not robust enough, and in this area only one Station has any anyway. This is the future of not just TV but Movies as well. A good HDTV program on a good projection system is often a better view experience than the vast majority of crappy multiplexes, most of whom can't seem to get the focus right.

    Broadcast is dying, I think this year is the tipping point (at least it is for me). With the exception of live events like Sports and News why would you need simultaneous broadcast over the air? Storage is large and cheap and getting more so. Download your favorite programs and watch them at leisure on a portable player.

    I had thought this was at least 10 years away, but inevitable. Perhaps it is now only 4 or 5 years away.

  • SBC and MS? I'm sure with those players it will be no time before the inevitable waves of screaming about that evil Michael Powell and the FCC playing into corporate hands, stifling our ability to freely communicate with one another, and just generally doing lots of mean things to us geeks...
  • They're not really going to deploy this over broadband, are they?

    if SBC has a properly-installed multicast architecture, then it's possibly feasible, but do you have any idea the amount of bandwidth that's going to require?

    Either they're running fibre to the door, and have datacenters full of the new clustering Cisco routers, or they're going to run into some hardware limits REAL fast.
  • Still so slow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cloudkj ( 685320 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:22PM (#10581934)
    The widespread mainstream broadband internet speeds are finally reaching higher levels, but the development process is still way too slow. By the time 15-25mbps connections roll out nationwide, Japan will already have their 100mbps broadband infrastructure matured, in place, and available to the consumers. Rather than focusing on the development of new forms of media delivered over broadband connections, I think the research efforts should be pushed into bridging the gap in connectivity between the US and Japan. Once the bandwidth pipe is big, other advancements will naturally follow.
    • The people of japan are crammed together like NYC. and the money to deploy comes more from public funds than private.

      What I find insane is the amount of hand-waiving (again) in this article by people who are declaring "the end of competition" and "stifling of deployment" even as the companies involved are declaring their intent to roll out BECAUSE of these freedoms from regulation these coal mine canaries are yapping about.

      With regulation: nothing happens because it costs a fortune to deploy this stuff a
    • I think you can attribute that to the geographic size of the two countries as much as anything else.

      The USA is HUGE. Many states are larger than most countries. It is thus incredibly expensive+slow to roll out anything land-based like fibre.

      The regulatory maze doesn't help either, but the primary factor is the geography.
  • So it's starting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:35PM (#10582005) Journal
    As much as I wonder how this is going to play out in terms of cost and DRM issues, I'm glad to see at least a few introductory steps taking us in the direction.

    I really look forward to getting rid of the old standard twisted-pair copper wire infrastructure that we're currently using and moving towards a "one connection for everything" system. Assuming we don't run into issues with monopoly-dictated pricing and/or start revisiting the old problems with massive telecoms, I'd love to get all my services through a single cable and a single provider, not to mention a kickass Internet connection.

    How much federal regulation will eventually need to come into play to prevent history from repeating itself as with the telecoms? Should something as huge and important as the nation's information infrastructure be regulated directly by the government as the railroads were for a time?
    • "one connection for everything"

      Maybe. But what if the medium gets cut? No "phone", no "TV", no "IP", until somebody patches the fiber. (The quotes are because with convergence you'll have fuzzy boundaries between the traditional services)
  • A friend of mine worked at a TV station that I am not permitted to reveal (but is right in MS's backyard somewhere). They had a multimillion dollar pilot project to use Microsoft software to deliver digital signals between the studio and the transmitter (and cable distro point) with dedicated, unlimited bandwidth digital circuits. Microsoft threw millions of dollars of research money into the project, it was to be their showpiece, to demonstrate how MS could provide end-to-end digital infrastructure for TV
  • by Cryofan ( 194126 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @09:40PM (#10582037) Journal
    SBC is still stonewalling on allowing Naked DSL. And our gov't lets them get away with it. Why?
  • Good News: We at SBC are finally catching the U.S.A to the world in broadband. Expect "Speeds expected to reach 15-25 Mbps."

    Bad News: All this bandwidth will be wasted on fancy TV and Trusted Computing (TM) instead of your favorite Bit Torrent seed.

    I'll wait for whatever cable does to compete with this, and then use that instead.

  • I think they already deployed it and the HDTV streams are taking up all the bandwidth on their network... err maybe slashdot just blew up their DNS servers... who knows, I can't get to any site on SBC's domain, (and yes the rest of the internet is working for me)
  • Speaking of this, I might as well mention that verizon has far more ambitious plans.

    They are in the process of wiring several states with Fiber lines to the home to provide phone, internet, and in the future, television (most likely provided by some form of DirecTV due to verizon's recent dealings with DirecTV).

    I believe service is already live in a few cities with reported speeds of 50mbps down/15mbps up. All for about $60/month.

    This regulation should speed up deployment in a few states such as NJ, whi
    • Re:speaking of which (Score:2, Interesting)

      by warnerpr ( 9286 )
      The details on speed and price are not quite correct in the parent post. You can read them here: i os /root/package.asp

      Verizon plans to cover 3 million homes next year, which probably requires a bit more fiber than SBC's 40K miles! Plus, while speeds are limited to about 20-30Mbps per home today with the electronics Verizon is deploying, the fiber in place will support MUCH more, 1Gbps / house is being worked on in the labs. Sort of makes DSL and wireless s
  • I must admit that the thought of paying for a single data [DSL] line and getting my phone [VoIP], tv, and internet over a single connection seems damn cool.

    However, there is no way in hell I'm going to buy into HDTV via IP if I'm forced to use MS Media Center or the like. I don't have to use Windows to get to the internet. I sure wouldn't put up with having to buy XXX brand television to watch TV now, and I certainly wouldn't by XXX brand phone to place a land line call. Why should HDTVoIP be any different
  • and therefore suck?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:02PM (#10582140) Homepage
    SBC announced this last June. []

    And they announced it back in 2003 [] "We plan to hit about one million lines by the end of 2003".

    And they announced it back in 2002. []

    Stay tuned for another announcement in 2005.

    This time they're paying back the Bush adminstration for the FCC deal that permits them to keep third-party ISPs from using their lines. The telcos have been lobbying for this for years, so that consumers don't have a choice of ISPs. It's an election year move, not a new development.

    SBC has talked up a few fibre-to-the home trials, but even the small scale trials never seem to happen.

  • by Zarf ( 5735 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:04PM (#10582151) Journal
    I'm afraid this totally rocks. This is why Microsoft is so rich... they keep doing things that totally rock. Wow. It greives me to say it ... but wow.

    It doesn't matter if Linux can do HDTV over a network and do it better (as if it could). It doesn't matter because Microsoft will be there first for the most people. They'll be there the most. They'll have all the deals locked in from server to client. They'll totally shut out HDTV over IP competition before it gets born. If you read Cringely [] at all then you know that at least one if not a few Linux hackers have done this type of thing in the small.

    But it doesn't matter now. Microsoft is a true kung-foo master. Unless the world changes radically and it becomes illegal to force people to use whatever EULA you want or to force out competition from your market place by using innovative and strategic business deals... Microsoft is unstoppable. It's like a dinosaur. What could stop the dinosaurs?
  • by Magickcat ( 768797 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:05PM (#10582158)
    Whilst developing all these new television technologies, perhaps someone will eventually consider that the majority of television programs are terrible regardless of their high quality sound and pictures etc.

    Whether the program is interactive or on demand, or how it's delievered, doesn't matter to me so much as what I'm actually watching. and I'm getting less and less impressed every year.

    I find myself watching less and less television, and using the Internet more and more. As for the phone, most people I know use it mainly to talk about television. I'm getting close to the point where I almost solely use email.
  • by SpecBear ( 769433 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:05PM (#10582159)
    So let me get this straight: SBC and Microsoft want to invest billions of dollars so they can show up late to the HDTV party and compete with cable and satellite TV? This is great for me as a consumer, more competition is better. But what's their upside? I must be missing something here.

    My predictions:
    • The project will be plagued by delays and cost overruns.
    • Both companies will try to use the network as a means of pushing their own product and service agendas and wind up building something that nobody wants to buy.
    • SBC and Microsoft will bring their established customer service prowess to the table. People rapidly flock to service providers that actually pick up the goddam phone.
    • They get creamed by the competition. These are both companies that only do well when they have a tight enough grip on the market that they can screw any potential competition.
  • Yuck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:17PM (#10582239)
    Offhand, I can't think of two companies that I dislike more than Microsoft or SBC.

    Here's an example of SBC's customer service. I moved recently and was forced to go back to SBC for local phone service (I had Comcast Digital Phone in my old place and was pretty happy with it.) I just got my first bill from the Southern Boys Club: $322.69 for installation, and all the guy did was come in for ten minutes to make sure all the jacks worked. And at that, he got the two lines backwards. Then, to top it all off, I signed up for this "ALL DISTANCE(R)" plan, that is supposed to give me unlimited local and long distance anywhere in the U.S., and instead I got billed $34.27 for long distance. None of those numbers include the regular monthly service charges, either.

    Sorry for the rant. This just really, really pisses me off.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:39PM (#10582372) Journal
    What a cruel joke.

    I was BEGGING SBC to get DSL to my house since 1999. I live (literally) in the middle of San Francisco, and they refused to hook me up. "Too far".

    Finally, about 2 years ago they got our neighbourhood wired up with DSL, but the fastest I can get is 384. (I live in a weird little neighbourhood just west of Twin Peaks. I have to drive just to get a cup of coffee.)

    And now they say they're going to be putting HD over IP? If my previous experience is any indication, I'll be getting MP4 from them at a reduced framerate around 2012...


  • 15-25 Mbps? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tji ( 74570 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @10:43PM (#10582389)
    15-25 Mbps is enough for one HDTV stream to one location.. I would hope that a jump in technology like this would at least support something equal to current technology (many people have 2 or three cable or satellite receivers today).

    Hopefully they are using multicast.. it would almost have to be, otherwise the network and server resources for streaming a huge number of HDTV streams would be immense.

    Obviously, there is a possibility for a bunch of restrictions to be placed on what would otherwise be an incredibly powerful concept. But, they could also make really powerful changes that could change the competitive landscape.

    If they look at it as a general communications platform, with additional services sold on top of it (Internet, VOIP, TV, PPV, etc.), ala-carte pricing might be more feasible. I would be very happy if I could just pay for HBO-HD, EPSN-HD, Comedy Central, and my locals. And, that would be a big blow to their cable/satellite competitors.
  • Two of my least favorite companies, Microsoft and SBC.

    I've worked hard to get both of them out of my life; HDTV over IP won't be enough for me to let them back in again.

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