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First HD Telco TV Deployment

According to an In-Stat commentary -- "SureWest, which began its TV deployment in 2002 with the acquisition of the bankrupt WINfirst, announced that it would begin commercially deploying HDTV over IP in November of 2005. While there have been HDTV over IP trials, SureWest will be the first company to commercially offer the service. Verizon is the only other telco we are aware of that is offering HDTV channels but they are using RF overlay rather than IP.

SureWest is the 7th largest rural local exchange carrier in the US with 145,000 access lines as of June 30, 2005. At that time, they had 13,000 video subscribers on their FTTP network and about 2,000 on their DSL network. Their FTTP network passes over 80,000 homes. The FTTP network offers 100 Mbps of bandwidth to each home.

With so much bandwidth, SureWest will use MPEG-2 video compression for their HD signals. They plan to switch to H.264 some time in 2006. At that time, HDTV service will be offered to digital TV subscribers who are connected via the copper rather than fiber network. Amino is providing the HD set top boxes.

Other telcos and broadband service providers, including France Telecom and Free, have publicly demonstrated HDTV over their networks. We expect SureWest is the first of many telcos to offer HDTV services. 2006 will be a big year for HDTV among telcos."

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