Media & Services > TV & Broadband Blog

Sezmi boldly goes where… many have been before

by User Not Found | 5月 02, 2008

Much hype in the last 24 hours about yet another new IP video venture. Sezmi, formerly known as Building-B, has received $17.5 million in funding from venture capital firms and includes prominent engineers Buno Pati and Phil Wiser (formerly of Sony) as its founders. It hasn’t disclosed where its initial trials are taking place, nor who its broadband service provider partners are, but is now at least public about its intended offer. However the company tries to spin it, Sezmi’s new service is pretty much a reiteration of many previous attempts to use digital terrestrial television to compete with cable network providers like Comcast. Predecessors have included USDTV, Geocast and iBlast, and the most recent, Moviebeam, gave up in December last year after attracting a paltry 1800 subscribers. All these services have tried, one way or another, to use capacity in the digital TV broadcast spectrum to increase the range of programming and choice and offer an alternative to cable TV. As with Moviebeam, Sezmi will use a DVR set-top box to store programmes and give viewers a quasi-VOD experience through an integrated program guide. And it’s certainly an impressive DVR – the 1TB hard drive could store 1000 hours (42 days) of video depending on quality settings. Unlike Moviebeam, Sezmi will also use a broadband connection to download programmes, alongside the over-the-air broadcast signal. And it’s the broadband part that Sezmi claims makes it TV 2.0. It suggests that it will partner with broadband service providers, while at the same time claiming that infrastructure costs are low. Given that BSPs are moaning about the cost of transporting rapidly growing mountains of IP video, I suspect that Sezmi’s position on infrastructure costs may fall on deaf ears in the telco community. What Sezmi is doing, of course, is trying to replicate what is already happening in Europe, where telcos (eg BT Vision) are combining DTTV with IP video to create a quasi-IPTV service. There are several key differences, however. First, Sezmi is not the telco, and does not provide broadband service, so until it sorts out that part of the equation it’s not clear whether company will be competing as an over-the-top provider or simply enhancing existing managed BSP packages. Second, the US DTV service is simply not as consistent as what’s available in many parts of Europe. Sezmi claims it has developed advanced indoor antennas for the ATSC system, but until we see this perform in the real world we will have to reserve judgment. Sezmi is targeting non-digital TV customers in the US, so it had better get a move-on. The 10% or so who still really solely on analogue terrestrial will have decided what to do after switchover within the next 12 months, and those using analogue cable will be tempted with new cable offers to switch to digital. One way or another, Sezmi in its current form looks like it will go the way of its not-so-illustrious predecessors. Client Reading: US IPTV Forecast and Outlook: $13.7 Billion by 2012 Add to Technorati Favorites
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