What if you could build a set top box, that could take high definition video input from satellite, and at the same time be able to take standard definition Internet video over Broadband and display both of them on your television? And while you are at it, throw in a personal video recorder for good measure. And then allow consumers to access that content over their home network! A Hybrid TV-IP set top box!
Now that would be a set top box of Rupert Murdoch’s dreams. The wily old fox who owns BSkyB in UK and an ISP so this could fit the bill and he won’t have to go too far. Pace Micro, a British set-top box maker is showing such a box at IBC 2006, currently under way in Amsterdam.
In many ways this box is quite similar to a box 2Wire had announced last year, and is being deployed by AT&T as part of their satellite triple play package. The Akimbo investment by AT&T also hints at a hybrid-TV-IP future. (Pace also announced a new reference design that could put upto a terabyte inside a set-top box-PVR that could easily be turned into a IPTV device by adding a special tuner.)
Forget that, for a minute. These hybrid boxes are intriguing beasts, and can be quite helpful for telecom operators who are still struggling to roll out their IPTV networks, and losing ground to cable. (See previous paragraph 😉 and my 2Wire posts. ) It buys them time, if nothing else. From a satellite operator’s perspective, if you add VoIP to the mix, then suddenly triple play becomes possible. Now if Murdoch could buy an ISP or two in US (suggestions: Covad, Speakeasy, Earthlink), suddenly DirecTV is not that much of a dud.
Okay it is time for me to stop dreaming up scenarios, and ask you, oh gentle reader for your take on this hybrid-TV-IP phenomenon.