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A Tale of Two Shows: Supercomm and Infocomm

Two shows, two industries, two locations–yet both showcased the growing interest in streaming media. Last week’s Supercomm and Infocomm shows provide insight into streaming media’s emerging ubiquity.

Supercomm, held in Chicago, focuses on the telephony industry; Infocomm, held in Las Vegas, focuses on audio-visual system integrators and their clients’ needs.

Speaking at a Supercomm afternoon keynote, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, told the audience, "This is your market, especially video. With IPTV, the market is coming to you." His remarks were aimed not only at traditional telcos such as SBC and Verizon, but also at smaller independent telcos and cable operators, many of which are rolling out their own Voice over IP (VoIP) and IPTV solutions.

In a two-day companion seminar called IP Video @ Supercomm, hosted by the US Telecom Assocation, numerous independent telcos discussed their IPTV strategies. Mike Deller of Comporium, a Rock Hill, SC-based media conglomerate, noted his company’s interest in leveraging their existing telephony and cable infrastructures to provide their current cable television subscriber base with the benefits of IPTV.

"We’re in a unique situation," Deller said, "since Comporium owns both the cable and telephony infrastructures in our market. Our cable subscribers expect an existing level of service, but we think we can increase both their quality and quantity experience with our IPTV solution."

Set-top box announcements also moved to center stage at Supercomm, which hosted numerous set-top box (STB) manufacturers, including Amino and Scientific Atlanta. The latter announced several IP STB’s at the show, including one unit capable of handling three simultaneous streams, while both companies showed off H.264 offerings and STB-over-coax solutions—allowing the use of existing interior RG-59 or RG-6 cable TV wiring.

Scientific-Atlanta also has agreed to collaborate with Microsoft to develop advanced H.264 and VC-1 encoders that will be compatible with the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform. While VC-1 is still a proposed standard yet to be ratified by SMPTE, the move allows Microsoft to still service a growing number of telcos that are embracing H.264 with its new IPTV software platform.

Sun Microsystems also had a presence at Supercomm; according to Gerry Collins of Sun’s Communications Industry group, Sun plans to roll out several robust video servers. "It’s amazing how quickly video–the third leg of the triple play–has emerged in the past two years," Collins said. "Two years ago, everyone talked about video but this year it’s everywhere on the show floor."

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