IP video is already here, say cable CTOs

IP video is already a part of cable systems and just needs to be taken down beyond the last mile to become an integral part of a multi-screen content delivery package, a panel of chief technology officers (CTOs) said during The Cable Show in Los Angeles yesterday.

"All of us have been talking about it for quite some time," said Time Warner Cable CTO Michael LaJoie.

It's not even about IP video per se, but more about solving pent-up demand from consumers with IP devices, added Tony Werner, Comcast's CTO, noting, "We need to have an easy way to get our content to them."

Changing all the networks to IP immediately is not that easy way, although all the CTOs said the change-out will happen eventually. There are revisions needed in the way content is packaged and delivered, including Warner's suggestion to use "fragmented MPEG-4" technology that chops 50-60 channels into fragments and is "a whole different way of doing video, a whole different way of doing advertising, a whole different way of doing everything."

IP video, though, isn't quite a whole different way of delivering content to end devices as long as MSOs determine what those devices will be: cable modems or set-top boxes. And even there, the problems will continue because "consumers are going to have devices they're going to buy that they're going to want to use to access content," said Dermot O'Carroll, senior vice president of access networks for Rogers Cable.

Of course, there is the major issue that has been facing cable operators for years: existing infrastructure. Delivering IP video "doesn't mean you're going to go and rip out good working gear," said Werner.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
NTT DoCoMo paves all-IP path
IPTV: Promises made, promises unmet... still, consumers say they want interactive TV