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Hope For IPTV: Inside SBC + EchoStar

Nokia_tabletxlNetwork World reports a $500 million exclusive partnership between SBC and EchoStar to deliver voice, video and data. The deal helps establish a standard value per subscriber and establishes a foundation that looks more like mobile broadband than rehashed personal video recorders.

The announcement indicates the companies will develop something called HomeZone, perhaps resulting in a mega set-top box that integrates satellite TV, DSL Internet access, and home wireless LAN, and unnamed next-generation services.

Analysts were already starting to share my rather dismal view on the short-term potential of IP TV. Todd Chanko of Jupiter Research dismissed the SBC HomeZone as a "wacky" idea in the same league as Akimbo.

Yet for all that, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The SBC/EchoStar deal helps establish a value for each subscriber that has been missing from earlier definitions of the IP TV service. 

Better, the planned HomeZone functionality sounds more like the Nokia 770 than the 2wire box. Future growth in broadband subscriber values are going to come from incremental mobile broadband services, not TiVo-like services which have already become commoditized.

From the sound of things, while the SBC/EchoStar combo may not be all that in the short term, both SBC and EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen are no strangers to patience.

Link: SBC HomeZone Presentation (Adobe Acrobat required)

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