Broadband Properties '08: IP TV is is ready to go

At the Broadband Properties Summit, there was a case study on IP TV (TV delivered via broadband). DirecTV and an apartment owner in Alexandria, Virginia teamed up to provide competitive TV services in a large, 350 unit apartment building. Some of the highlights of the experiment:

Prior to the introduction of the new service, the biggest tenant complaint was about the incumbent TV provider service. The number one tenant demand was for more choice in selecting a TV provider.

After introducing the competitive DirecTV service, complaints are down and compliments are up.

The case study confirmed my longstanding bandwidth calculations about future network planning. A single channel of HD TV on the system requires 10+ megabits of bandwidth on the system, and live HD events (e.g. sports, racing, etc.) requires 15+ megabits of capacity per channel. This demonstrates the inadequacy of DSL, wireless, cable, and even FiOS to deliver next generation services.

Cat5e or Cat6 cable is needed from a distribution closet to each apartment, where a set top box converts the signal and sends it to the TV. The system performed so well that most residents did not realize it was IP TV. There have been claims that "IP TV doesn't work well compared to satellite and cable." We can put those to rest.

The take away for the talk was really about making sure that new homes and apartments are broadband ready. Most communities still do nothing to encourage builders and developers to build "broadband ready" homes and commercial buildings, which is a missed economic development opportunity, especially given the ease and low cost of doing this.