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SES, Cisco Take IPTV Rural

Satellite-services provider SES Americom and Cisco Systems want to bring Internet Protocol television to America's hinterlands.

The two companies are pairing up to offer rural telephone companies what they claim is a soup-to-nuts package of IPTV content, equipment and services. The idea is to ease what has been the biggest pain for telcos trying to bake a TV service from scratch: getting everything to work together without a hitch.

“At the end of the day, we're trying to deliver an end-to-end solution so our customers aren't focused on the piece parts,” said SES Americom senior vice president of marketing and product management Jon Russo.

The turnkey offering includes up to 290 linear channels provided via SES Americom's IP-Prime service, Cisco's network infrastructure equipment and set-top boxes from its Scientific Atlanta unit, as well as an array of third-party IPTV middleware, conditional access and other technologies. Both companies, along with their partners, will provide systems-integration services to tie it all together.

Russo said customers can pick any IPTV middleware that suits them, including Microsoft's IPTV Edition. “The middleware is one of 10 ingredients that go into the mix,” he said.

SES Americom has announced it is working to integrate Siemens's Myrio and NDS Group's Synamedia Metro IPTV middleware platforms with IP-Prime. Scientific Atlanta's lineup of IPTV set-top boxes includes standard- and high-definition models, as well as digital video recorder (DVR) and gateway products. SES Americom has also announced a deal to provide IPTV set-tops from Amino Communications with IP-Prime.

SES Americom is selling IP-Prime through the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), which represents 1,300 U.S. phone companies that have fewer than 100,000 customers.

So far, SES Americom's highest-profile customer for IP-Prime has been BellSouth, which had been testing out the service in trials since November 2005. With AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth, completed late last year, the status of that project is unclear as analysts assume AT&T would deploy its own IPTV infrastructure in BellSouth territories.