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Big companies make big moves on IP-centric multimedia services

Nov 28, 20052 mins

* SBC/AT&T, Cisco/Scientific-Atlanta, and AOL initiatives rooted in multimedia

Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched three separate announcements that may converge on a related trend: closure on the SBC/AT&T merger, Cisco’s acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, and AOL’s partnership with Warner Brothers.

SBC’s acquisition of AT&T was completed on Nov. 18 . The new, combined company will keep the AT&T name and will conduct business as usual to ensure customers and partners continue to get the service they requested before the acquisition. Although the new AT&T launched with nearly instant integration of marketing messages and Web sites, clearly the new company will have some continued work ahead.

One aspect of the combined company is of particular interest – the strength of the company’s ultra-modern core IP backbone paired with its rapid deployment of consumer broadband (a.k.a. Project Lightspeed). Clearly, the two elements can be used together to offer an improved mix of business IP services.

Also on Nov. 18, Cisco announced its plan to acquire Scientific-Atlanta for an aggregate purchase price of $6.9 billion. In a statement, Cisco said Scientific-Atlanta provides the set-top boxes and video distribution networks to help Cisco create “a world class, end-to-end triple play solution for carrier networks and the digital home.”

Jim McDonald, chairman, CEO and president of Scientific-Atlanta, noted in his statement that “the combined strengths and resources of our two companies will position us to address more quickly the growing number of opportunities in the markets we serve and enable us to create new products and services that might not have existed otherwise.”

Finally, on Nov. 14 AOL announced it would offer thousands of DVD-quality television programs in early 2006, thanks to collaboration with Warner Bros. In its statement, AOL said, “This first-of-its-kind interactive video experience demonstrates the impact of broadband… as broadband provides a new platform for television assets on the Internet.”

So what’s the related trend? Multimedia IP-centric services that include video have identifiably come of age in the consumer market, and these services may be coming of age for the business-to-business market. Looks like those data and voice packets will finally be getting lots more video packets to keep them company, and the line between consumer video and business video may be getting thin.