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Telenor Plans FTTH, IPTV in 2008

Ray Le Maistre
TelcoTV News Analysis
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief
10/12/2007
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BERLIN – Broadband World Forum Europe – Norwegian incumbent Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) plans to launch IPTV services in 2008 as it revamps its access networks and aims for 100 percent broadband coverage, the carrier's head of fixed networks, Berit Svendsen, announced this week.

She said the Norwegian government has set Telenor the "tough challenge" of providing a broadband connection to all 2 million households in Norway, a long, thin, mountainous country with many small, remote communities. The carrier, which claims 94 percent broadband coverage today, is getting some financial backing from the government to achieve this.

So Telenor is adopting a variety of technologies, including PON, DSL, and WiMax, to reach the country's 4.6 million inhabitants. But "this isn't just about coverage," stated Svendsen. "This is about getting people on the Internet." About 60 percent of Norway's population currently uses the Internet, but "we want to get that to 75 percent."

The carrier is rolling out fiber-based access in Norway's main cities to keep up with its smaller rivals and deliver entertainment services that can help reduce churn and deliver extra revenues. "We see heavy competition in fiber access and IPTV, driven by the utility companies," noted Svendsen. (See PacketFront Wins in Norway, PacketFront Does FTTH in Norway, and Lyse Unveils Quad Play.)

Svendsen noted, though, that the carrier will not invest in fiber until it is certain of customer demand, and will sell the service before building out the final fiber connections, to maximize capital expenditure efficiencies.

The carrier is also investing in VDSL2-enabled DSLAMs where fiber to the home is not appropriate. The carrier is sourcing its DSLAM and GPON technology from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). Svendsen told Light Reading that her company had been using DSLAMs from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), but "they didn't work very well." (See Telenor Picks AlcaLu FTTH.)

For Telenor's WiMax rollout, which has already begun, the carrier is using gear from Airspan Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRN). (See Telenor Launches WiMax.)

Svendsen said Telenor is still to make a decision about its IPTV platform, though Light Reading believes the carrier is set to choose the SmartVision product from Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) as its IPTV middleware platform. Thomson declined to comment, and Svendsen had not responded to a request for comment as this article was published.

Telenor will launch its IPTV service during 2008. "We believe there is a willingness to pay for premium services," said Svendsen, adding that Telenor will "need to use traffic optimization" techniques, including peer-to-peer traffic management, to guarantee throughput of its video services.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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