& cplSiteName &

Alcatel, Microsoft Confirm IPTV Deal

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading

Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today confirmed they are developing a joint IPTV management and service delivery solution for telecom service providers.

The news announcement comes two months after Light Reading first revealed that the partnership was in the works (see Alcatel, Microsoft Tuning IPTV Deal).

The two firms have been competitors in the IPTV middleware market until now. Microsoft launched its offering late in 2003, and Alcatel acquired two specialist vendors in 2003 to create its own software solution, the Open Media Suite, that it could sell to carriers alongside its DSLAMs (see Microsoft Sells IP TV to Carriers, Alcatel Denies iMagic Fadeout, Alcatel Unveils Open Media Suite, and Who Makes What: Telco Video).

But Microsoft has been snapping up the major carrier deals, most notably at SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), where Alcatel is the lead integrator and is having to implement Microsoft's IPTV system (see SBC Awards Microsoft $400M IPTV Deal ).

Microsoft's other high-profile IPTV announcements include a deal at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and trials at BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), and Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), among others (see Verizon Makes Microsoft Video King, BellSouth Trials Microsoft's IPTV, Swisscom to Trial IP TV Service, and Microsoft IPTV: Now That's Italian!).

But not everything has gone smoothly for Microsoft, and industry gossip has it that Alcatel had to dig the software firm out of an integration hole at Swisscom (see Swiss IPTV Trial Hits 'Glitches').

Not that the two vendors want to talk about such issues. On a conference call today, Moshe Lichtman, VP of Microsoft’s TV division, sidestepped a question on reported delays at Swisscom and SBC, saying only that Microsoft is very pleased that Swisscom has completed its trial and is putting together a deployment plan.

So what's the fallout from this partnership? First off, the two firms seem pleased to have the whole issue out in the open. "We're ready to go," Alan Mottram, president of Alcatel’s fixed solutions division, told the conference call. "This is our coming out party."

What then came out is how these two powerhouses are preparing to dominate the market. Alcatel is to be Microsoft's equipment partner of choice and integrate its software into the vendor's hardware. Doing that, said Lichtman, should mean "less cost and fewer headaches [for carriers] than multivendor solutions typically involve."

This will involve Alcatel adapting its DSLAMs and routers to make them more interoperable with Microsoft's software, and vice versa, the firms said, which will help to optimize important capabilities such as fast channel zapping.

But what does this mean for Alcatel's current Open Media Suite customers, of which the vendor says there are 24 (see, for example, Russians Pick Alcatel for Entertainment and Alcatel, Acer to Deploy IP TV in Taiwan).

Mottram says Alcatel isn't stopping R&D on its system, and it'll continue to support its existing commercial and trial customers. The new combined package will be offered to the existing user base, but it's not likely that all will want the joint solution, said the Alcatel man.

The chief aim of the partnership, though, is to pin down the world's biggest carriers. Microsoft reckons the top 20 operators account for between 60 percent and 70 percent of the world's access lines, and "with Alcatel we will be able to target those much more effectively," said Lichtman.

The team hopes to persuade those carriers that an Alcatel/Microsoft combo can help them deliver IPTV services more cost effectively than if they used alternative systems. A focus will be working on technical solutions that will reduce the cost of the set-top boxes that sit in residential homes, and Microsoft is already working with some hardware partners with that goal in mind.

The new partners will also work together to develop Amigo TV, a community TV application developed by Alcatel.

The two companies are coy, though, about how they will share the spoils of any joint contracts, saying only that each will be compensated for its particular contributions. It's also unclear exactly what resources each firm will put into the partnership.

And they've clearly been keeping the joint partnership a secret from their prospective customers. Telecom Italia executive Massimo Coronaro, who was presenting today at the 21st Century Communications World Forum event in London, is trialing both vendors' middleware platforms and was surprised by the news.

The new combination of the world's leading DSL equipment provider and the world's dominant software firm should be a frightening prospect for the two firms' competitors in the increasingly competitive TV and video-over-broadband market.

Not that those competitors will admit it, though, as there is still scepticism about whether Microsoft's software can stand the rigors of a large-scale carrier deployment, especially when a time-sensitive service such as live TV is involved.

"Microsoft has a good front end -- it looks good," says Jeff Paine, VP of strategic marketing at UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), which is trying to attract attention to its own end-to-end IPTV system (see UTStarcom, Myrio Have Their IPTV and UTStarcom Launches IP TV System).

"The issue will be whether Microsoft's fundamental architecture will scale. That'll only become apparent when it's deployed" by a carrier that has many hundreds of thousands or millions of customers, says Paine.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, and Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:25:46 AM
re: Alcatel, Microsoft Confirm IPTV Deal
Well, Microsoft has finally established a beachhead in the carrier space. Perhaps, telco equipment vendors aren't familiar with where the value was ultimatly created in the PC market (can we say OS/Applications?). Unless, Alcatel plans on streamlining their hardware business ala Dell, I guess they can kiss their future applications revenue goodbye! Once Intel commoditized the comms hardware silicon and Microsoft has refined their comms software platform I expect the competition in hardware gear will drive whatever margins exist pretty much out of the market.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:25:45 AM
re: Alcatel, Microsoft Confirm IPTV Deal
Vendors like Alcatel could never overcome their image as hardware-only players, unable to make any meaningful money out of any application or middleware software anyway (not talking about firmware in their boxes, of course). It's better to get at least a sales pull out of a Microsoft relationship than to see their middleware business go the way of so many other non-box inititatives - given away as a freebe with hardware.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:25:42 AM
re: Alcatel, Microsoft Confirm IPTV Deal
There's a brighter side:
Think of all the money program (content) providers can save by just making blue screens - no need to waste time with actors, screenwriters, directors, et al.
They can - with high credibility - blame it all on Microsoft.

For the rest of us, no longer will the office be the only place we behold the blue screen of death. It will be coming soon to our living rooms.


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:25:41 AM
re: Alcatel, Microsoft Confirm IPTV Deal
Oh, yeah, how could I forget:
I wonder what viruses and worms look like on my tv set?

Pass the Tylenol (R) please.

From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment

It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments

Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments

A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment

Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment

In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments

AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment

Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment

At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments

Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments

Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
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 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
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
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Orchestration Startup UBiqube Pivots Away From NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/15/2017
Verizon Video Woes Pile On
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/14/2017
WiCipedia: Dolly Babes, Manifesto Backlash & 'Brotastic' Failures
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 8/18/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
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.