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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 26, 2011

Comcast Testing IPTV at MIT

By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

Despite it being the largest cable company, Comcast (News - Alert) is still playing catch up in regards to some of its content delivery technologies. The cable giant is finally testing out some new digs and, according to the Wall Street Journal, is running a trial IPTV service at MIT’s (News - Alert) campus this fall.

Comcast will try delivering TV channels using the same standard used to deliver data over the Internet, known as the Internet protocol, or IP. Comcast currently delivers channels over digital television technology that sends the video in streams to set-top boxes and isn't compatible with the Internet.

In a blog post Wednesday, Sam Schwartz, president of Comcast Converged Products, gave some details of its Xcalibur initiative, which could revolutionize the way that Comcast customers browse, search and discover content.

Cable companies are increasingly moving to make their live video feeds available via IP for a number of mobile and connected devices. Earlier this year, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision released iPad apps that deliver live streams of cable programming to subscribers connected to their home networks.

“We want to deliver video everywhere people want to watch it,” said Comcast's president of converged products Sam Schwartz in an interview. “We have to do a better job getting people to realize what they are paying us for.”

Unlike Netflix and Hulu (News - Alert), though, IP-delivered streams from Comcast wouldn’t go over the broader Internet but would be delivered “in network” over its own infrastructure. By doing so, Comcast will be able to reach a growing number of connected devices like TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and the like. It could also eventually lead to Comcast limiting the number of set-top boxes it has to roll out and support.

While Comcast claims to have unplanned service offerings in geographic locations where it is not the cable TV provider, VoIP usage would make this theoretically possible, and when it does, Cablevision, Time Warner, and other competitors’ monopoly is done.

While it promised in January that it would soon make live video available over its own iPad app, it has yet to add the feature that other distributors have already rolled out.

The company will expand testing to Comcast employees later this year, allowing them to watch live programming via a small box or another device that can connect to the Internet like a computer, tablet or Microsoft (News - Alert) Corp.'s Xbox gaming console in their homes.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell