Massive multimedia conglomerate Verizon is reportedly looking to overhaul one of its key consumer offerings. According to Variety, the company is preparing a next-generation "IP TV service," with a planned launch in one of its existing FiOS markets later this year. Details are sketchy on how exactly this new service will work, but it sounds like it'll be centered around a new set-top box. Earlier this week, Verizon filed FCC documents for a new box that would include the OnCue internet video technology that the company picked up from Intel over two years ago.
Variety says that this new box will offer a totally new interface that combines paid TV services alongside internet video options like Netflix. It also seems plausible that the new Verizon service will pull in online video programming from the company's recent purchase of AOL (Engadget's parent company). That combo of live paid TV services along with popular streaming options has been the holy grail that cable companies and consumer technology companies have been chasing for some time, but it remains an elusive goal.
Indeed, one of the big innovations for this next-gen service won't really be consumer-facing: Verizon is reportedly planning to move to an entirely IP-based delivery system rather than the current QAM format. QAM pushes all the content that a provider offers at all times, whereas an IP-based solution only delivers exactly what the customer is watching at a given time -- this could lead to major bandwidth savings for Verizon. This move is apparently a big part of why Verizon purchased OnCue from Intel in the first place.
One change that would definitely be noticed by consumers is a potential new name -- as Variety notes, the released FCC documents contain no mention of the FiOS brand. Of course, it's worth noting these documents are redacted and don't really point to Verizon's branding strategy. But it's entirely possible that Verizon will take this opportunity to banish FiOS and start fresh.
Yet another part of this strategy could relate to Verizon's ambitions to build a large-scale ad network to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. A new internet-based TV service could provide the company with a new place to serve ads to its customers, but that's just speculation at this point. Either way, we should find out what Verizon is up to before the year is out, at least for customers in some of the company's markets.