IP Set -Top Boxes May Prove Critical to Telco -vs -Cable Triple -Play Battle

While cable vendors have a large installed base of STBs, none as yet is capable of offering that holy grail, the `triple play`

Oyster Bay, NY - February 23, 2005 - The Internet Protocol (IP) set -top box (STB) is shaping up as a critical element in the battle between cable operators and telco -based broadband providers to provide customers with the all -important "triple -play" of voice, data and video.

This is one of the conclusions reached by a new study, "IP Set Top Boxes," just released by ABI Research. Vamsi Sistla, the firm's director of broadband and residential technologies research, points out that while cable vendors have a large installed base of STBs, none as yet is capable of offering that holy grail, the "triple play". That's because of the way the cable industry has traditionally worked: by the slow process of consensus and behind -the -scenes work that ensures universal interoperability when products come to market.

When it comes to triple -play cable STBs, the industry is still at the standards -defining stage. "In one sense that's good," says Sistla, "because once they announce a standard, it's the final word. At present, that's not the case in the IP STB market: whoever can build a better box and convince service providers of its superiority can enter the market today. It also means that DSL service providers can introduce new technologies and features quickly, given the open standards prevailing in their part of the market.

On the other hand, when cable operators do finally bring triple -play -ready boxes to market, consumers can be assured of a truly plug -and -play product, while service providers and consumers choosing a DSL -based box may be locked into a proprietary solution if the service provider doesn't pay attention to future scalability and open standards concerns.

"This could turn out to be a classic Hare vs. Tortoise race, Sistla concludes, "with various factors influencing the outcome of the long term race."

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in wireless, automotive, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For more information please visit www.abiresearch.com, or call 516.624.2500.

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