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IPTV: Another Fun Way To Waste Time At Work

CBS last week began streaming episodes of two sitcoms, "Two And A Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother," on Yahoo Inc.’s Web site, where viewers can watch them for free until Jan. 2. The move closely follows other forays into the new territory of Internet Protocol-based TV, or IPTV, which is creating much buzz in the telecom, IT, and media industries.

NBC Universal last month started selling episodes of TV shows including "The Office" and "Law & Order" at Apple Computer’s iTunes store. Others selling TV episodes on iTunes include ABC, Sci Fi Channel, USA Network, and Disney.

The networks aren’t the only ones jumping in. Google Inc. last month said it would acquire 5% of America Online, and part of the deal includes collaborating on video services and content.

But while these efforts open the door to an additional, potentially lower-cost delivery model for video content, they create some interesting challenges for businesses. At the risk of being cast as paranoid productivity cops, business managers may find it difficult to stop TV and video viewing from joining personal E-mail, instant messaging, and blogs as online productivity drains.
Streaming video also is a bandwidth eater, often requiring as much as 300 Kbps to be viewed. At 300 Kbps there’s greater security risk than, say, an IP-based telephone call at 30 Kbps. “You’re opening up a very fast hole for harmful data to be transferred,” says Scott Montgomery, VP of product management at Secure Computing Corp., a provider of network security products, including Web-filtering applications.

According to Websense Inc.’s May survey on employee computing trends, listening to or watching streaming media is the most popular computer-based activity at work. Research firm Harris Interactive, which conducted the survey for Websense by interviewing 500 full-time employees at companies of varying size, found that 18% of employees use the Internet to listen to the radio or watch live newscasts.

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