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Telcos Prep Internet TV

When it comes to video services, the children of Ma Bell have taken their hard knocks. A flood of ventures by telephone companies designed to compete against entrenched cable TV operators received much fanfare in the early 1990s, only to fizzle out as failures before the new millennium passed. But don't count them out just yet. As cable operators increasingly target their data and voice customers, the telephone companies are crawling back from defeat, reinvigorated by a perfect storm of network convergence, broadband technology and the good ol' IP infrastructure. Coming soon to a screen near you: IPTV. "It's one of the hot topics in telecommunications," said Steve West, director of product marketing for fixed solutions at Alcatel, a network infrastructure provider. "We've been actively pushing the space since 1999 or 2000. It is absolutely ready for market. "While traditional cable systems devote a slice of bandwidth for each channel and then cablecast them all out at once, IPTV uses a "switched video" architecture in which only the channel being watched at that moment is sent over the network, freeing up capacity for other features and more interactivity.

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