& cplSiteName &

Belgacom Set for IPTV Overhaul

Ray Le Maistre
4/2/2009
50%
50%

The telco TV sector's major systems vendors are queuing up to replace the incumbent IPTV service delivery platform in use at national operator Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG), one of Europe's most successful TV-over-broadband service providers.

And according to industry sources, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which already has a number of national operators using its MediaRoom platform in Europe, is best placed to pick up the new business.

Belgacom launched its service in 2005 with Siemens Communications -- now one half of Nokia Networks -- as its technology partner. Siemens had committed itself to the IPTV sector by building a set of partnerships and then acquiring middleware player Myrio. (See Nokia Siemens Opens on a Downer, Belgacom Launches Siemens IPTV, and Siemens Snaps Up Myrio.)

Despite strong competition from Belgium's ubiquitous cable TV operators, Belgacom built its IPTV customer base to about 140,000 by the end of 2006, rising to 305,000 by the end of 2007. In 2008 it added a further 201,000 customers, including 63,000 in the fourth quarter, to end the year with 506,000 Belgacom TV customers, giving it a 30 percent share of Belgium's digital TV market.

That's a strong performance, considering Belgium has a total population of around 10.4 million, and about 4.2 million households. And it makes Belgacom one of the biggest IPTV players in the world's leading IPTV region. (See Europe Dominates IPTV Landscape.)

Now the carrier, which has built its IPTV success around exclusive, live soccer content, wants to add further customers -- about 87 percent of Belgium's households could receive the service -- and add extra services on top of its existing on-demand and high-definition TV (HDTV) offerings, to help raise its monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) even further. In 2008 its monthly ARPU (for TV services alone) grew by 7 percent to €17.2 (US$23.22), driven by the uptake of on-demand services. (See Belgacom Uses Ikanos and Belgacom Touts HD IPTV.)

According to a number of reliable industry sources who spoke with Light Reading at last week's IPTV World Forum event in London, and who requested anonymity, Belgacom's existing Myrio platform isn't capable of enabling the applications and capabilities the carrier wants to develop.

And with Nokia Siemens focusing its R&D efforts on other parts of its business, Belgacom, say our sources, has been checking out alternatives, though the carrier, in response to questions from Light Reading, says it has "no such plans at all." (See IPTV Roundup: What's With NSN? )

Our sources say all the leading middleware players -- Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), and Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) -- as well as the new kid on the IPTV middleware block, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), have all been keen on the opportunity. All declined to comment.

A combination of Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft, which are still IPTV partners despite reported friction in the relationship, is regarded as the favorite to land the deal, though. That's because Belgacom is already heavily reliant on AlcaLu for its IP/MPLS network transformation process, access network, and various service platforms, and is already working closely with the vendor on integration issues. (See AlcaLu Supports Mediaroom, Belgacom Offers AlcaLu's BiCS, Belgacom Selects AlcaLu, Belgacom Picks AlcaLu VDSL2, and Belgacom Uses Alcatel.)

AlcaLu has its own IPTV middleware product, called MiView TV, but the Microsoft MediaRoom platform is believed to be preferred.

And integration, as much as telco TV functionality, is key to any IPTV platform switch Belgacom might make. All of Light Reading's sources noted that the Belgian carrier's greatest challenge will be to transfer its existing service and customers from one platform to another.

While Belgacom's catalyst for change is the need for greater functionality and scale, its neighbor, Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), has been struggling to get its IPTV business off the ground.

It also chose the Siemens/Myrio platform in 2005, but while experiencing some success with the launch of a direct-to-home satellite TV service, has struggled to sign up IPTV customers. Last week at the London event, KPN said it ended 2008 with about 800,000 customers, but wouldn't say how many of those were for its "interactive TV" service.

One source suggests KPN might even team up with Belgacom to build a joint IPTV platform that would serve both carriers. Now that would be the mother of all IPTV integration jobs.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:07:49 PM
re: Belgacom Set for IPTV Overhaul


If things pan out as I expect, this could be a turning point for Europe's IPTV sector, ESPECIALLY if we get two existing telco TV players sharing a single service delivery platform. Long way to go on this yet, but this looks v interesting.


I'd be keen to hear about any other potential IPTV system swap-out scenarios from readers - lemaistre@lightreading.com.


 

Featured Video
From The Founder
The 'gleaming city on a hill,' Steve Saunders calls it. But who is going to take us from today's NFV componentry to the grand future of a self-driving network? Here's a look at the vendors hoping to make it happen.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Could the Connected Car Help Prevent Terrorism?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/15/2017
AT&T Wants to Ditch the Dish
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/13/2017
Apple's New iPhones: No Gigabit LTE for You!
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/14/2017
Cities Slam FCC on Broadband Proceedings
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/15/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed