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Cable Show 2009: SCTE Panelists Talk Internet TV

Complete Cable Show 2009 coverage from Multichannel News

Executives from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications chewed over the technical issues of distributing cable programming over Internet networks on a panel Friday.

The "Meet the Chief Architects" session, at the Society of Cable & Telecommunications Engineers' Conference on Emerging Technologies, was a new addition to the ET lineup, intended to provide a wrap-up of the technologies discussed throughout the week's various technical sessions and exhibits.

Comcast fellow Weidong Mao said MSOs have the opportunity to deliver managed IP video services to any device in the homes -- PCs, portable devices and game consoles.

And, he added, "It's not only our network for subscribers at home, but also potentially off-net so you can access this when you're traveling."

To get to an IPTV-over-cable model, "we can take advantage of Moore's Law" in terms of cable modem termination systems and video-streaming servers becoming more cost effective for delivering large amounts of video, Mao said.

"The challenge is how this works end-to-end, the integration with the back office, and how will ad insertion work in this environment," he said.

Howard Pfeffer, Time Warner Cable group vice president of broadband engineering and technology, alluded to the "entitlement" concept being worked up by his company. Referred to by the MSO as TV Everywhere, the service would allow cable TV subscribers to access video content over the Web.

"Today everybody is used to logging into e-mail," he said. "People are used to that paradigm... So now you're starting to see that on the content side."

Another new IP-based service cable might explore is "video Twitter," which would allow consumers to broadcast their own video in high-definition, said Matt Bell, Charter Communications vice president of IP engineering and development.

"The ‘video Twitter' concept of us generating video on the fly, from anywhere, and appearing in this cloud is a technology I'm keeping my eye on," he said.

Meanwhile, Pfeffer said cable's tru2way interactive services platform has the potential to let MSOs deliver a much wider range of content.

With tru2way, "the [set-top] client will be much more Web-oriented, more like a PC envrionment," he said. "On the Web, there's a willingness of developers to write to different platforms -- they'll do a widget for Facebook on day, and for MySpace the next."

The panel was moderated by SCTE president and CEO Mark Dzuban, who started the job in February.