A Living Memorial to the Father of IPTV – Tony Atwater

Tony Atwater epitomized the American entrepreneur. With roots in technology and interactive television that dated back to SGI and their 1990s early interactive television efforts in conjunction with Time-Warner, Atwater jumped from the security of an established company to the uncharted path of being a pioneering Internet Service Provider. His vision went further than most and he saw the potential for delivering video, along with Internet over existing copper pairs. Tony’s Memorial FundChecks can be made to either Elizabeth Q. Atwater, Tony Atwater Memorial Fund or Antonio Atwater Memorial Fund, and sent to:

Elizabeth Q. Atwater f.b.o. Antonio Atwater Memorial Fund c/o Great Western Bank,

6304 North 99th Street,

Omaha NE 68134.


I first ran into Tony, or really the evidence of Tony, at Churchill Communications (now CC Communications) in the rural town of Fallon, Nevada in 1997. Vic Slaughter demonstrated a video delivery service over copper-pairs that Churchill was evaluating. I was shocked, having known about the Bell Atlantic trials of that sort of technology, which they had subsequently shut down. Slaughter would press a button and a movie would stream from a server in Reno. The company behind this magic was Atwater’s SourceNet of Reno.

I met up with Tony and Vic a few months later at a Pacific Bell conference regarding the interference effects of DSL on binder groups. This was an issue close to Atwater’s heart as he would lease unbundled pairs from Pacific Bell and he needed the pairs to be pristine in order to provide the 6 to 8 Mb/s to ensure video delivery. He explained his vision over lunch and it was clear that he had big plans.

Tony saw that the real trick to television over copper was putting together the entire ecosystem that included technology, content, distribution partners, and interoperability. Literally, strapping things together, he was able to build the first independent telco video over copper systems. Always a fan of an open approach, he tried to involve as many players as possible. He did a great job of assembling all of the pieces that, through investment, became Myrio (which Siemens eventually purchased).

Probably the pinnacle of his involvement in the independent telco industry was when he was both the open and closing keynote speaker at the first TelcoTV conference in 2002.

Tony always had the entrepreneurial drive and he moved into the Wireless ISP space after Myrio. For the past few years, he focused on that business and we did not see him too much at the independent telco tradeshows. That changed this year, when he decided, as he told me earlier this year, “to pursue something in business development with a well-respected and established company.” As reported in the previous issue of the Viodi View, he landed at CCI. When I saw him two weeks ago at the OPASTCO 2007 Summer Convention, he appeared very upbeat and looking forward to bridging the HFC and IPTV worlds.

Tony leaves behind a young son and a 20-year old daughter. The police have apparently suggested accidental drowning as the cause of Tony’s death. I will keep readers informed as to any memorials to Tony or trust funds that may be set up for his children. His daughter could use support, so contact me at ken dot pyle at to learn how you can help. To pass along your condolences directly to his daughter, email her at elizabeth at In the meantime, please click here to add your comments or fill-in detail about Tony and please allow this post to be a living memorial to the Father of IPTV.

Tony Atwater "taking 5" sometime in the pre-computer era.
Tony Atwater “taking 5” sometime in the pre-computer era.
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