1:05 PM -- I spent most of TelcoTV on the stage side of a podium, so I wasn't in position to take notes. But I did come away with some major impressions, and I've consulted with my Heavy Reading and Light Reading colleagues to produce what I think are the key takeaways from this year's show.
(For a full wrapup of Light Reading's coverage, see TelcoTV 2012: The Aftermath .)
1. It's about IP – but not necessarily IPTV.
Smaller telcos in the U.S. are pushing toward an all-IP network and are looking for services they can offer over that network to generate new revenues. But while IPTV was one their earliest efforts -- and these folks pioneered that service, well ahead of larger companies -- it's still largely a service in search of profits. The cost of content continues to challenge the business model for IPTV and has significantly slowed its momentum. That doesn't mean it's disappeared, and we continue to see innovation in this area -- but it's mostly related to takeaway No. 2 (we'll get to that in a second).
One member of my panel on local content, Richard Wardell, network manager of Tri-County Telephone in Wyoming, showed how his company is now broadcasting high school games, plays and other activities from schools throughout the state over both its IPTV service and the Internet, generating major new website traffic and IPTV loyalty in the process.
That's possibly the kind of innovation TDS Telecom President and CEO Dave Wittwer was talking about when he encouraged TelcoTV attendees to look for smaller innovations and not always the big-ticket items. Wittwer said TDS continues to push the IPTV ball forward but admitted it's been a tough transition.
2. There's mounting pressure to develop OTT/multiscreen video offerings.
Across the board, vendors are offering ways to incorporate an over-the-top offering into either a broadband service or an IPTV package, delivering Internet-based video to the home TV screen -- or to tablets or smartphones. The key for smaller telcos will be in how they work with their vendors to innovate and how they make it easy for their consumers to navigate in the multiscreen world and to find the content they want without being deluged by what they don't want.
Robert Mudge, president of consumer and mass business markets for Verizon Communications Inc., placed heavy stress on making things easier for the consumer, especially as they move into what his company is calling a "borderless lifestyle." Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Adi Kishore calls it "cocooning the customer" and I think that's spot on -- especially where takeaway No. 3 is concerned.
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