US FCC: High Speed Internet and television

Yesterday, Michael Powell, U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman said that technology and telecommunications companies are working on ways to develop pipe television shows to consumers’ homes via high-speed Internet lines.

Telephone companies like SBC Communications, are competing against competition from cable television companies that offer their customers a comprehensive package of products, including phone and Internet service.

Stateside it would appear that the majority of major phone companies have an initiative underway to provide broadband-delivered Internet protocol (IP) television. However, at present, it is unclear as to whether there would be any regulatory obligations that would apply to television via the Internet. 

According to Powell, TiVo Inc., famous for its digital television recorders, was joining up with online DVD renter Netflix Inc. to provide films to the home by high-speed Internet, or broadband lines (see our coverage).

This week, in another indication that television via the Internet was gaining momentum, the largest U.S. local telephone company, Verizon Communications, appointed Terry Denson, formerly of Insight Communications to manage entertainment content and marketing.

The company has already begun an ambitious fibre-to-the premises (FTTP -) programme to deliver broadband services over optical fibre directly to homes and businesses. It expects to pass 1 million homes by the end of 2004 and an additional 2 million homes next year.

Qwest Communications International already operates a small IP television service in Arizona, and the other three large local telephone companies are actively planning to compete. As part of their voice and Internet packages the other four carriers already resell satellite television services from DirecTV and EchoStar Communications