Several blogs including EngadgetHD and UverseUsers.com are reporting on AT&T launching two streams of HD for U-verse subscribers in the St. Louis market. These U-verse customers can receive 2 HD and 2 SD streams, for a total of four streams. Most people who follow DSL powered IPTV recognize that HD is a challenge because of its bandwidth intensity. Most of us also realize that offering HD is a competitive necessity. IPTV providers who utilize DSL as their access technology are at somewhat of a competitive disadvantage against cable and DBS over HD.
Never mind the costs associated with encoding HD content (which, for everyone further down the food chain than AT&T, is a challenge), the challenge with delivering a single HD stream over ADSL2+ (or even VDSL) is significant enough. But in order to compete with cable and DBS, who currently have multi-stream HD capability, delivering two streams (and some would argue even more in the future) is ideal. We are progressing towards HD ubiquity. We’re certainly not there yet, but we will be soon. The concept of multiple HDTV’s in the home, or the desire to watch one HD program while recording another, will become commonplace, and sooner than DSL IPTV providers wish it to. AT&T’s move into two stream HD over their FTTN/VDSL architecture provides a glimmer of hope, It’s too early to tell if they can scale that solution and match their competitors offer. But for them, and for those who look to them for guidance, it’s a start.