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Analyst Predicts Lightspeed Penetration

An analyst report from Needham & Co. LLC on Sigma Designs Inc. estimated that SBC Communications Inc. could sign up 100,000-200,000 subscribers for its IPTV service in 2006 in a "best-case scenario."

Sigma�s chip set, Needham believes, will be used by SBC in its Motorola Inc. and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. set- tops. But in discussing Sigma�s fortune, Needham wrote, "The bad news is that we believe SBC�s Project Lightspeed will be delayed beyond the most pessimistic projections we have seen."

Needham projects a mid-2006 launch, at the earliest. "It may be more realistic to expect volume deployments starting in late 2006, as network complexity may drive further delays," Needham said.

Needham doesn�t expect SBC to be able to field-test thousands of Sigma/Moto and Sigma/S-A boxes until next June. "The problem is that numerous software vendors� systems need to integrate with each other," Needham said. "Obviously, Microsoft is key, but the multivariable equation also includes Amdocs, VOD software, a micropayments systems and so forth. We have seen these stories before, and their common denominator is spelled D-E-L-A-Y."

Needham is more bullish on HomeZone, the SBC/EchoStar Communications Corp. TV/PC product. It believes SBC could generate 200,000 or more HomeZone subscribers by the end of 2006.

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