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When Will IPTV Make Its Big Debut?

IPTV is the future of TV, say many analysts, and deployments are just beginning. Television signals delivered over the Internet is already a reality in Roseville, Calif., Kelleher, Tex., and a few other communities, and many more deployments of the technology will be launched in 2006, according to telecom experts.

However, growth of the technology itself will probably remain small until more fiber is deployed throughout the country and GPON (gigabit Ethernet) becomes a reality here. Though fiber and GPON aren't absolutely necessary for IPTV, they provide the higher bandwidth that the more advanced features of IPTV require. Those advanced features include interactive communications and HDTV, just to name a couple.

"We feel [IPTV] is here now," says Bill DeMuth, vice president chief tech officer, SureWest Communications, Roseville, Calif., which has more than 20,000 fiber-to-the-premise customers and additional IPTV customers who receive service over copper wire. "We're at the early part of the curve, but we feel that it's rapidly accelerating."

The competitive local exchange carrier started offering IPTV in January of 2004. The company's fiber now passes 80,000 marketable homes, according to DeMuth. Those customers can receive more than 200 channels, video on demand, Internet and voice communications. Incumbent local exchange carrier customers that want the IPTV service from SureWest, but voice communications from the incumbent, receive their service over copper pair.

However, when HDTV becomes available in the area, which is expected to be sometime next year, only those with fiber will receive it.

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