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Global Warming May Rack up IPTV Viewers

The first Earth Day in 1970 was the birth of the modern day environmental movement. Promoters of an Earth Day-related event this Friday hope to set an equivalent milestone for IPTV.

In what its backers are calling the single largest application of two-way IPTV technology ever attempted, more than 16,000 high school and college science classrooms will engage in a live video/chat discussion with scientific and religious leaders about global warming.

"This will be the first, true broadcast of real scope featuring IPTV service with full interactive capability," Joseph Fergus, president and CEO of Communication Technologies (ComTek), said at a teleconference today.

ComTek's PowerTV Network provides users with the experience of television broadcasting coupled with the interactive capability of the Internet, Voice over IP and e-mail.

IPTV is a two-way interactive broadcast whereas traditional Web streaming is a one-way flow.

"You can use IPTV to view programs as if watching broadcast TV, interact with the Internet, use VoIP, Internet databases and e-mail," Fergus said. "[Friday's broadcast] will be totally live and, for the first time, integrating all these technologies."

ComTek's PowerTV is distributed over the firm's private IP network, which integrates fiber, wireless, broadband over power lines and satellite distribution.

According to the Chantilly, Va.-based ComTek, the system took $11 million and three years to develop.

Friday's Earth Day telecast will be broadcast from Washington on April 21 with three cameras. The standard broadcast technology will be translated live to the Internet by ComTek technology. The broadcast will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST on EDN's site.

"You don't have to sign up or sign in like you do for a teleconference or a Web conference," Fergus said. "From the user side, it's all free."

IPTV can be live or pre-recorded and broadcast at any time, with DVD quality, and is capable of migrating to the next generation high definition television (HDTV).

"This major leap forward in our education efforts means that we will be able to reach literally hundreds of thousands of young minds at the same time -- and to get feedback from many of them, as well," said Jeff Nesbit, vice president of communications for Earth Day Network (EDN).

EDN's international network reaches more than 12,000 organizations in 174 countries. Its program in the United States allows over 3,000 groups and 100,000 educators to coordinate community development and environmental protection activities.

According to Nesbit, the EDN has recorded more than 100 million page views in some months.

IPTV, said Nesbit, is the perfect vehicle for the EDN, because you can watch it live from anywhere in the world.

Fergus said ComTek sees its PowerTV network being used for distance learning, telemedicine and businesses looking for new ways to reach customers.

"It is a revolutionary way to interact both inside and outside the firewall," he said.



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