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BellSouth Uplinks Satellite IPTV Trial

Looking to widen its video-service options, BellSouth Corp. has signed a deal with SES Americom Inc. to test the latter’s new centralized satellite Internet-protocol video-distribution system.

Under the agreement, BellSouth will test “IP-PRIME,” a distribution scheme SES has developed that can bundle hundreds of standard-definition and HDTV programming channels along with voice and broadband services.

SES will provide BellSouth with video-aggregation, encoding, monitoring and transport services fielded from its broadcast center in Vernon Valley, N.J.

The service delivers IPTV signals using SES’ “AMC-9” satellite, and it is based on an open-standards architecture. As a result, it can plug into a range of consumer service platforms, including Microsoft Corp.’s IPTV middleware and conditional-access systems that BellSouth is also now testing.

BellSouth has been testing IPTV with Microsoft for the past year, and it plans to expand to a market trial using additional MPEG-4 (Moving Picture Expert Group) advanced-codec signals that IP-PRIME will supply.

“SES Americom enables us to make additional content available to BellSouth's IPTV trial participants as we continue our analysis of this technology," BellSouth Entertainment president Don Granger said.

BellSouth’s existing TV-service play consists of a co-marketing agreement with satellite provider DirecTV Inc. But a clause in the agreement between the two companies allows the regional Bell operating company to explore other TV-service-delivery options.