BellSouth Goes Satellite for IPTV Trials

BellSouth is reaching for the stars in its Internet Protocol TV trials this summer, signing SES Americom to provide a centralized, satellite-centric video distribution platform.

The IPTV trials, set to begin later this year, will be aimed at approximately 1,000 users in Atlanta. SES will provide BellSouth with video aggregation, encoding, monitoring and transport over its IP-Prime platform, which is delivered over one of the company’s 18 U.S. satellites.

“This is only a technical trial,” BellSouth spokesman Brent Fowler said. “We had lab trials in 2005 and ‘friendly’ trials with BellSouth employees. Now, we want trials with actual customers. Any further deployments will be based on those trials.”

According to SES, the IP Prime platform allows BellSouth to bundle and distribute hundreds of standard and HD television programming channels with voice and broadband services.

Bryan McGuirk, president of media solutions for SES Americom, said in a statement the open architecture of the IP Prime allows plug-and-play integration with a broad range of infrastructure platforms.

These include Microsoft IPTV middleware and conditional access systems, which are being tested by BellSouth.

The Baby Bells are anxious to expand their presence in delivering video as cable giants such as Comcast continue to win over telephone customers with their bundled offers of voice, video and high speed Internet.

IPTV services are expected to include customizable channel lineups, video-on-demand, digital video recording, interactive program guides, event notifications and content protection features.

BellSouth’s fiber-to-the-curb system — which can deliver IPTV, as well as high-speed Internet, and Voice over IP service — now passes 1.2 million homes.

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