SBC Communications has awarded a $195 million contract to Scientific-Atlanta to provide video equipment for its Project Lightspeed initiative to deliver IPTV or internet protocol video services.

Scientific-Atlanta will supply equipment, including encoders and other video facilities, together with professional services to support the creation of an IP video operations centre, two national “super hubs” and 41 “hubs”.

The central command centre will monitor the availability and quality of content across the network. The two super hubs will receive television programming from satellite feeds, and encode into internet protocol packets for delivery across SBC’s IP-based network to the hubs in each metropolitan area. The regional hubs will also acquire and encode local video content and provide video-on-demand services.

Instead of using a traditional broadcast video system, in which multiple video channels are broadcast simultaneously, the switched IP video network will deliver only content that is requested by each customer.

Alcatel will be providing the network equipment and video systems integration for the project, in a five-year contract worth $1.7 billion.

“This contract award is another important step in building a new, efficient, IP-based video network and we’re very pleased to work with Scientific-Atlanta,” said Lea Ann Champion, who is responsible for IP Operations and Services at SBC.

The $4 billion Project Lightspeed aims to provide fibre-to-the-neighbourhood and fibre-to-the-premises to 18 million households across 13 states by the end of 2007. The company plans to offer the first set of products under the U-verse brand in late 2005 or early 2006.