Telecom Group Aims for IPTV Spec


A group of nine telecommunications carriers, telco equipment makers and consumer-electronics companies -- including AT&T, Ericsson and Sony -- formed the Open IPTV Forum, a Cable Television Laboratories-like organization to define “an interoperable end-to-end specification” for Internet-protocol-TV services.

The backers of the consortium most notably exclude Microsoft and Alcatel, which are the primary technology vendors involved in AT&T’s IPTV rollout. But the Open IPTV Forum’s founders said the group is “fully open to participation across the communications and entertainment industries.”

The founding members of the Open IPTV Forum are AT&T, Ericsson, France Telecom, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Siemens Networks, Sony and Telecom Italia.

There was talk last fall that AT&T and other telcos were discussing creating just such a technology-development organization for IPTV.

While IP-based television services provide the flexibility of running on a common underlying network infrastructure, a lack of standardization at higher layers has guaranteed that virtually every IPTV rollout is unique.

The Open IPTV Forum said it will work to “aggregate” existing standards, with the goal of establishing requirements and specifications for architecture and protocols later in 2007. The group added that it will address key technology elements such as content protection, interoperability between IPTV services and retail consumer devices and interfaces to allow IPTV services to be delivered over both managed network environment and the public Internet.

“By ensuring the interoperability between consumer equipment and services compliant to the Open IPTV Forum’s specification, the end-users can easily access their choice of contents and services among multiple service providers,” the group said in announcing its formation.

Existing standards the Open IPTV Forum expect to base its work on could include IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), the group said.