TV as we know it may be about to change. Again.
Verizon is getting ready to test and launch its next-generation TV service later this year, according to a report in Variety. Citing sources familiar with the company’s plans, the report says the new service will deliver movies and TV via an IP-only set-top box, marking a major change in how content is transmitted into American homes.
In a filing with the FCC, Verizon referred to the device as a “Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3×3 video set-top box.” What’s the advantage of that, and an all-IP box? Simple: The system would only stream the content you ask for to your home. Conventional systems use a protocol called QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) to send all the content to your set-top box all the time for every channel in the system. Think about that for a minute: mongo content being sent via copper cable, fiber-optic lines, or satellite all the time. That’s huge bandwidth. An IP-only system would cut way back on content delivery, sending just what you select via the system’s interface.
The new service model may resemble on-demand, pay-as-you-watch services. The FCC filing included OnCue, an internet TV service Intel developed but never launched before selling it to Verizon two years ago. Details of what you can sign up for or watch aren’t public, but the prospect of an all-inclusive box suggests the potential. It makes sense that you could subscribe to a combination of over-the-air local programming, packages for individual channels or bundles, and current wireless streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and Verizon-subsidiary AOL.
The first locations to test the new IP-only service will be existing FIOS markets. But bcause the bandwidth requirements for IP television service are so much less than the traditional content delivery, fiber-optic service speeds aren’t necessary; wireline copper cable internet service could handle the bandwidth easily. Don’t count on dial-up, but the ability to stream content to mobile devices is clearly part of Verizon’s plan.