AT&T TV survey

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Satchel, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. Satchel

    Satchel Well-Known Member

    Dec 8, 2001
    Dallas, TX
    I was emailed as an SBC DSL customer to take part in a survey from AT&T/SBC about a future TV service...

    here is the jist...anyone heard of this?

    I'd love to see something like this...

    Would you buy the following service?
    A new TV service provider is considering offering 200 channels of all-digital TV, plus 50 high definition (HD) channels and 5,000 hours of on-demand programming, unlimited local and long distance home phone service and high-speed Internet access for $179 per month, including all equipment costs. The service also includes a free digital TV recording service (similar to TiVo) so you can record your favorite TV shows and movies, and then watch them from any TV in the house--even in HD. The service doesn't require any installation fees, and you will receive a set top box and special computer modem in order to use the service.

    In addition, you will have free use of a digital TV recording service (similar to TiVo) that will allow you to record your favorite TV shows and movies and watch them from any TV in your house and pause, fast-forward, and rewind programs.
  2. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    Sounds like Verizon's VIOS service. Depending on the connection speed for that network connection, it wouldn't be bad.
  3. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    is that 179$ for all TVs and PCs in the house ? I know it is just a amrketing survey at this point but I would wonder about when extras come along. even at that 179$ is pretty high considering I could get digital Tier and internet from Time warner for 100$ is all the HD and "recording" capability worth an extra 79$ a month?
  4. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    The SBC part of AT&T has been very vocal in their plans for fiber and the triple play (voice, data, video). They call it "Project Lightspeed" and last I heard they were planning on spending $4 to $6 billion to get services to 18 million households by first half 2008. They have completed field trials in San Antonio, Texas and are about to start "a controlled market entry" there ... and then start scaling the offerings up in other areas mid-2006.

    It is also assumed that AT&T (along with every other telco) is at some point in their fiber / triple play plans ... although AT&T has been (characteristicly) less vocal about it.

    In some ways "Project Lightspeed" is similar to Verizon Fios ... fiber allowing triple play from a telco.

    However, in some ways it's very different.

    Verizon is deploying FTTP (fiber to the premises). SBC is only deploying FTTP in "greenfields" (new construction). They are primarily deploying FTTN (fiber to the node), bringing fiber within a few thousand feet of a household and using the existing copper from there.

    The result is very different video services ...

    Verizon is using an RF overlay and very closely resembles a cable architecture (for video). 860MHz of RF being broadcast into your (and every other) house. They are only using IP for VOD (IPTV), data and voice.

    SBC "Project Lightspeed" however is entirely relying on IPTV. They've reported getting 20-20Mbps via VDSL ... to be shared between video, data and voice. Instead of all channels coming in to your house all the time ... you're only going to be getting the channels you request at any one time. Ie ... when you 'change' a channel the STB sends a message up the line and a new video stream starts coming down.

    The result is that while SBC should be pretty unlimited in the number of channels they can offer ... they are going to be limited in the number of channels coming in your house at one time (about 1 HD channel + 3 SD channels). If you have two HD sets and intend to watch two different HD shows at the same time ... that may be problematic.

    It will also be interesting to see what effect video usage has on data bandwidth.

    SBC has announced intentions of using Microsoft IPTV edition running on Motorola and / or Scientific Atlanta STBs connected to an IP Gateway from 2Wire.

    Since this is a Tivo board ...

    It will be very interesting to see their DVR strategy. If they offer the traditional customer-premises based DVRs ... they are not going to be able to offer a dual-tuner HD DVR. The IPTV crowd has been very eager to look at the nPVR (network PVR) model since this could have a huge advantage on a (comparatively speaking) limited-bandwith VDSL connection ... but the nPVR model has faced challanges from the content owners. We shall see ...
    Don't forget the phone + unlimited local and long distance.

    $179 for:
    - "full" video package for multiple TVs
    - multi-room HD DVR
    - broadband
    - unlimited phone
    - all customer premises equipment
    Would seem reasonable ...

    Start adding in per-TV / per outlet / per whatever charges and yes that could get ugly.
  5. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    Mar 29, 2005
    The implications of "pretty unlimited" could have been far reaching. Consider how the DVR picture would have been different with the kind of wide availability of broadband found in Japan or S. Korea. Instead of a customer adding a new box, the carrier could offer "DVR recording" at the head end. Content owners wouldn't get so freaked out about users archiving forever since the carrier has control of the bits (and can continue to pay them recurring fees from inserted advertisements to "old" recordings).

    It's not a very likely scenario since the necessary price/performance capabilities didn't emerge with the right timing for this opportunity to be compelling, but an interesting "what if". Such a streaming scheme is very much harder not only from the technical perspective but the investment side, since you need to make a big bet to pay for the distributed storage necessary. Much easier to promise 5000 VOD shows and sell management on a "wait and see" strategy, hoping the wind will get taken out of the third party DVR/PVR sails.
  6. MickeS

    MickeS Active Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    They're gonna need a lot more than 20MBit connections to create any sort of meaningful service (IMO, of course). The largest broadband company in Sweden is currently expanding their 100Mbit service to all their customers, in order to do essentially what this survey asks about. I can't see how anyone could get by doing all this stuff with anything less than at least 50Mbit, at least if they want to offer it to multiple HDTVs or multi-tuner HDDVRs, while still giving a reasonable (10mbit) bandwith to computer data.

    Hard to say "yay" or "nay" based on this survey, if it's not more detailed. But it sounds good, I guess (though pricey, I get internet, phone and cable for less than that right now, and I don't really feel like I need anymore channels :D).
  7. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    Iwould see this as better for the content owners for the same reasons Justin outlined above. I would see some consumer resistence to this since the control of it falls outside the house. I see no mention of how portable video fits in, for instance.

    yep forgot the Phone part. Time Warner is charing 35 a month now for that I think. so that puts the whole setup on a more equal footing though that 179$ price tag is still a sizeable sticker shock when you hear it all combined. Also I am not thrilled about the idea of on demand and network PVR for even the lower price of the remaining 39$ a month. I would have to see it in action forst to feel comfortable with it.
    So they may just face the smae marketing problem TiVo does, you have no idea of the advantage/value of it until you have it or can see it in use
  8. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    Hence the nPVR model I mentioned.

    BTW, many would argue that price/performance and technical advantages of an nPVR are there and have been for quite some. But ... hard to know without some market trials and the only reason there haven't been any is because of programming / content rights issues. Programming / content rights issues have stifled the nPVR ... not technical issues.
  9. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    Mar 29, 2005
    Dad gummit, I read nPvr and thought something else. Thanks for not hitting me on the head with a 4x4.
    Certainly. I wasn't talking about price/performance on paper but price performance actual capability that be thrown at the problem. The backend capability could be put in place fast, but the ramp up time for running the necessary glass to each home is staggering. So what capability is there now. Cable. But to use that there are some significant technical & logistical problems- you'd have to get rid of a lot of channels and still you'd be talking ridiculous numbers of distributed cache servers at the edge of the network.

    So you have to wait for the fiber optic cable to be run. But the window doesn't stay open forever because consumer product expectations get set, and after they do, people express the sentiments Zeo did, as did the others making fun of the MystoTV/ "Start Over" chatter last spring. I know that a Tivo enthusiast site is not the best place to sample user acceptance, and honestly, if network DVRs had come out before standalones, I would have been wildly enthusiastic. But now that people have gotten the idea rightly or wrongly that the recorded show is now "theirs", I think it is a tougher proposition to rent them space. The nDvr comes across not as a "Condo", but as one of Potter's tenaments**. It ties into a lot of rugged individualism themes- don't be a loser and settle for renting from the tyrant. Instead, own your own home by working with George Bailey. For Potter, it is not a hopeless marketing challenge, but it's tough.

    Today, Larry Ellison's network computer concept would be a vast improvement over standalone PCs, from multiple standpoints: cost, reliability and maintenance. But expectations and an entire market ecosystem has grown up around standalones, so it would take nuclear force to make a significant impact on PC buying patterns.
    When I am thinking idly, I often think that the content industry would see the wisdom in aggressively getting behind a technology like nDVRs that favours their interests.

    The main advantage the nDVR has now is the user capacity could be enormous- especially if they calculate your storage allocation as that which requires unique storage on the nearby server. (If you like prime time content, you virtually have terabytes of space, if you like Cspan, then you get about 40GB.

    But competitors without glass could counter by allowing customers to archive space on servers similar to my "Rent TTG server space" proposal.

    **Christmas 2005 reference to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"
  10. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    I doubt this will ramp up soon enough for me and I stay in the tough to market to me category. I still look forward to TiVo taking us back to reality with the ZuZu's petals they show us at CES in January. ;)
  11. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    Well ... one of the other main hold-ups with nDVRs have been that it's a solution looking for a problem. Cable's fascination with VOD, nDVRs, and other two way services has always been more due to the fact that their primary competitor (dbs) can't offer them than any other concrete benefit. Figure out the killer two-way app and ... cable has a big leg up on dbs. But ... most people seem perfectly happy with linear broadcasts and for those that aren't ... there are client-based DBRs so ...

    Which is why I said SBC's DVR approach will be interesting.

    The only way SBC will be able to allow recording two (or more) HD shows at once is with an nDVR. The only way SBC will be able to allow recording one HD show while watching another live is with an nDVR. They just can't feed multiple hd streams down that pipe ...

    Ownership of the content is a rather abstract concept ...

    "Can I record two HD shows at once?" If SBC doesn't use an nDVR:
    Cable (Yes), DBS (Yes), SBC (No)

    "Ok, at least can I record one HD show while watching another live?" If SBC doesn't use an nDVR:
    Cable (Yes), DBS (Yes), SBC (No)

    "Ok, well then can I use multiple single-tuner HD DVRs at the same time to get the same results?" If SBC doesn't use an nDVR:
    Cable (Yes), DBS (Yes), SBC (No)

    The only way an SBC customer is going to be able to watch Sunday Night Football, Gray's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives in HD is with an nDVR. Ok ... perhaps they'll be able to catch the ABC shows by shelling out some extra $$ for VOD episodes. Or perhaps SBC will be willing to lay down extra copper (or fiber all the way to the home) for some customers. Or perhaps they'll improve DSL (or compression) to the point of getting multiple HD feeds down the same pipe at some point ... but barring these types of improvements the only way an SBC customer records two HD shows at once is with an nDVR.

    Another (less concrete) benefit of an nDVR to SBC is percieved value / speed of that broadband connection. With client based DVRs sucking up much of that 20-25Mbps all the time ... doesn't leave alot left over for data. OTOH, if they use an nDVR and only send down video when the customer is actively watching video (when they're not as likely to notice slower internet speeds) ... the customer could get the full 20-25Mbps when they weren't actively watching video.

    A large VOD library and an nDVR (along with a bigger channel offering) have always been seen as ways FTTN could be competitive with fatter pipes into the house.
  12. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    I've also never understood the "either/or" philosophy. Would I drop my stand-alone DVRs for a "Start Over" service or even the more expansive "MystroTV" as originally envisioned or some other nDVR or my cable company's current VOD? No ...

    But hey ... no is asking me (or anyone else) to do so. It's there. Use it / don't ... make a purchasing decision / or don't ... whatever tickles your fancy.

    Quite honestly, the content on a cable-company client-based DVR (which haven't exactly been unpopular) isn't really any more "yours" than VOD or content on an nDVR would be. Go ahead and try to (digitally) transfer content off to DVD or a portable device ... but as consumer expectations advance (and cable starts getting more competition) those features will come to. There is absolutely no technical reason why content can't be copied from a CableCard Tivo, or cable DVR, or nDVR, or VOD, off to DVD or portable devices or media centers or networked drives ...

    How about:
    - nDVR / VOD system which makes all linear content broadcast available for some limited time frame (week, two weeks, month, whatever) available
    - content can be viewed and / or transferred to another device in your home if you wish

    Any problems there?
  13. cwoody222

    cwoody222 Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 1999
    Buffalo, NY

    VIOS is different than FIOS TV.

    Verizon is free to run fiber wherever they want (basically). So they can offer FIOS super-fast Internet service anywhere they want (basically).

    But FIOS TV requires them to fight the current cable TV's exclusive rights in any given town/state they want to offer TV service in.

    So far they've only won that battle in parts of TX, Virginia and somewhere else I think.

    FIOS is just them installing new lines. FIOS TV requires legal maneuverings or governmental policy changes to make it a reality everywhere.
  14. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    Another important difference between SBC and Verizon ... the regulatory landscape.

    Both say laying the initial fiber (for data and voice) is merely an "upgrade" of their existing plants and as such are not subject to approval from anyone. Although ... even that sometimes gets contested since they still need work permits. For example, one locality (which already has a contentious relationship with Verizon) here in Virginia is refusing to issue Verizon any work permits for upgrading to fiber at all untill after cable franchise issues are negotiated. Lodi California voted to allow SBC/AT&T to install fiber but only if they agree not to offer video untill after a cable franchise is negotiated.


    Ok ... so then comes the video.

    SBC/ATT&T say that their video service is an "information service" ... not a "cable service" and as such they don't have to get local cable franchises.

    Verizon ... well they aren't exactly happy to have to get cable franchises but so far have been willing to do so (while trying to get state and/or federal legislation to make it easier or unneccesary).
    Exclusive cable franchises are illegal and have been for quite some time ... Verizon doesn't have to fight exclusivity. That being said, obtaining a cable franchise on a locality-by-locality basis certainly isn't an easy process ... for a variety of reasons. For example, here in Virginia, a state law that was supposed to foster cable competition is quoted as one of the stumbling blocks in Verizon franchise negotiations. Virginia law states that competitive franchises may not be awarded that are "more burdonsome or more favorable" than an encumbant franchise. Makes sense ... you wouldn't want a locality that is charging cable 5% franchise fees to be able to turn around and ask Verizon for 10% or 1% franchise fees. They should both be the same (5%) right? Ok ... but what if the cable franchise says that the cable company will offer services to everyone in the county (full build-out) and Verizon says that's too expensive to do right now ... they only want to offer service to 25% of the county ...

    In addition to localities in Texas and Virginia, Verizon has recieved cable franchises in:
    New York - Massapequa Park
    California - Beaumont, Murrieta, Apple Valley
    Florida - Temple Terrace, Manatee County
    Massachusetts - Woburn
  15. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Does this mean that the video is still analog, usable by cable-ready tuners? If so, that'd be cool.

    Apparently, when AT&T had a competing video service several years ago for a brief time in the SF Bay Area, you didn't need a cable box/decoder, at least not for normal channels.
  16. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    Jul 31, 2003
    It means that, like cable, the channels can be analog, or digital, or both.

    But specifically ...

    Verizon seems to have some channels available in analog (although they are also simulcasted digitally) ... but not as many as (typical) cable. On cable, usually the entire "Expanded Basic" package (which includes ESPN, Discovery, etc) is analog. Verizon seems to only be offering the "Basic" package (over the air locals) in analog.

    That being said ... Verizon also seems to be experimenting a bit in their test markets so ... hard to predict what they'll eventually settle in to ...

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