Digital Nerd

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Telstra on slow crawl to internet TV

Via The Age:
Vendors of internet television technologies are beating a path to Telstra's door as the company continues to evaluate its options.

Last week it was Siemens' turn to demonstrate its wares after news that Australia's largest telco had rejected Microsoft's technology. Siemens, one of Microsoft's biggest rival in this regard, bolstered its claim with the presence of Paul Reitmeier, the company's Munich-based president of customer premises equipment.

Telstra spokesmen and Mr Reitmeier refused to comment on their discussions.

Mr Reitmeier says internet television is in its infancy. But he says all the ISPs he meets are "real serious" about the technology's development, which ties into so-called "triple-play" services - bundled voice, data and video.

"They realise they are going to have one good shot at making this work," Mr Reitmeier says.

Telstra approached SkyNetGlobal to test its technology, which delivers broadband over electricity powerlines. SkyNetGlobal uses powerline technology VDSL (very-high-rate digital subscriber line) to provide video-on-demand to apartment dwellers through a server in their buildings.
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SkyNetGlobal general manager Jean Morel says Telstra sent a purchase order last week for powerline technology for testing. That technology, including a processor from Spanish company DS2, is designed to deliver internet TV.

The set-top boxes SkyNetGlobal uses are from Swedish company I3 Micro Technology, which works with Siemens on an extensive interactive TV pilot in Belgium.

Telstra last week revealed further details of its discussions with Microsoft after a story in last Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald. In a statement, the company said it had discussions with Microsoft about a field trial of Microsoft's internet TV system but decided not to go ahead "entirely for our own internal and local market reasons and not because of anything to do with Microsoft's product".

"If and when we made a decision to offer an (internet TV) service, from a commercial and technical perspective, Microsoft's platform would be one of a number of serious options," the statement says.

Telstra's network is not ready for such services and, even when its ADSL2+ broadband network is deployed, it will be unable to guarantee speeds needed for video-on-demand if subscribers live more than two kilometres from an exchange.

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