SBC Places Big S-A Order

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Scientific-Atlanta Inc. has secured a $195 million contract to provide SBC Communications Inc. with an Internet-protocol video operations center, two national IP video “super hubs” and 41 IP video hubs for its video rollout.

Set-top boxes are not included: Telco SBC has not yet chosen one or several set-top vendors, although it would appear S-A would be a leading candidate, given that it will supply video headend equipment. An SBC spokesman said the network has been designed to handle multiple set-top vendors.

S-A will provide encoders, satellite dishes, video routers and professional services.

The video-operations center will serve as a master national headend for the IPTV-based switched network SBC is building. The super hubs receive, process and encode video and TV programming from satellite feeds into IP packets. That content is sent to the video hubs — typically one per metro area — that integrate the linear, interactive and VOD content, as well as local programming.

Microsoft Corp. is supplying IPTV software, while Alcatel will deliver network equipment and integration services for “Project LightSpeed.” SBC plans an IPTV test this summer, with full-market rollouts scheduled for later.

S-A has extensive cable headend experience, but no one has built a national IPTV headend this big, conceded vice president and general manager of emerging businesses Paul Connolly.

The S-A and Alcatel network will work with whatever final encoding standard SBC chooses, Connolly said.

There will also be S-A encoders and off-air antennas in the 41 video hubs to ingest local content, he said.

SBC is spending $4 billion on LightSpeed to deploy fiber-to-the-node — and, in some instances, fiber-to-the-premises — plant to 18 million homes in 13 states by the end of 2007. That’s roughly half SBC’s footprint.

SBC will continue marketing Dish Network TV elsewhere.