Video services

Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group

A new telecom collective comprising some of the biggest names in the industry has charged itself with the task of creating an open, standards-based approach to IPTV networks and services. (See Open IPTV Forum Launches.)

And the membership of the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) is as notable for which companies aren't involved, as for those that are.

The founding members are:

And given the group's aim, "to aggregate today's diverse standards into a complete delivery solution, with the goal of accelerating the full standardization of IPTV-related technologies," the most notable names missing from the members' list are Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which are involved, often as partners, in many of the IPTV deployments already announced. (See Alcatel-Lucent Unveils IPTV Strategy, BT Turns On 21CN, IPTV, Microsoft Adds Three for IPTV, Swisscom Finally Launches IPTV, Microsoft Wins IPTV Deal at DT, and Alcatel and Microsoft Win Danish IPTV Order.)

Alcatel-Lucent had not responded to questions about whether it had been approached to join the initiative or whether it believes such a body is needed.

But the presence of two of the pair's most high-profile Tier 1 IPTV customers, AT&T and Telecom Italia, suggests that the AlcaLu-Microsoft approach to IPTV may be one that's under review. (See AT&T to Launch Lightspeed Next Month, TI Develops IPTV With Microsoft, SBC Awards Microsoft $400M IPTV Deal , and Microsoft IPTV: Now That's Italian!.)

In Microsoft's case, this Forum's existence is interesting because Microsoft rivals have long argued that the Microsoft IPTV edition package, which includes middleware, content protection, and VOD capabilities, is proprietary.

Microsoft, however, says it doesn't need to join a club just to show its support for standards. "Microsoft TV supports open standards," a company spokesman wrote in an email to Light Reading on Monday. "We actively participate in several standards bodies associated with IPTV -- including ATIS, DVB, ITU, DLNA, CEA, HGI, TISPAN, W3C, and OASIS -- and are on a path to define open standards related to IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)."

The software giant says its IPTV system is based on "an open and extensible platform built on open standards." It also notes that it has built "partnerships with dozens of the world’s leading technology companies and service providers" and is "committed to continuing to work closely with these organizations to support our customers’ digital TV deployments."

With or without Microsoft, the Open IPTV Forum seems a serious, carrier-backed initiative to include recognized standards in IPTV deployments. On the group's new Website, the members state that for the "past several months, the companies entered into intensive discussions on what was needed to accelerate IPTV standardization and timely expand the market globally. The founding companies came to an agreement on working together on this task. We believe that combining the expertise of key telecom operators, consumer electronics manufacturers and network infrastructure providers will drive this task in the most efficient manner."

The Forum plans to pull together different initiatives and, using IMS and DLNA as its standards foundations, create a framework for global IPTV deployments, but it says other industry standards may be involved.

The founding members say anyone can join, as long as they "share the goals of the Forum and are willing to actively contribute to specification development." However, even the keenest of prospective members will have to wait a while, as "the Forum will initially consist of the nine founding member companies to ensure speed and coherence in achieving a first release. The detailed information regarding additional members will be announced later 2007."

Among the most noteworthy participants is Ericsson. In short order, that company forced its way into the IPTV world through a series of acquisitions, partnerships, and, now, its involvement in the Open IPTV Forum.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Pancakes 12/5/2012 | 3:12:03 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group
OpenTV and Open IPTV.

Thanks for confusing the heck out of us.

yarn 12/5/2012 | 3:11:59 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group With also Cisco/SA as notably absent it makes you wonder a bit whether there is a selective door policy for joining this exclusive club or whether there is a better party going on elsewhere...
gottappp 12/5/2012 | 3:11:59 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group Verizon is also missing. Seems they're avoiding the IPTV pain by doing HFC directly to the home. Also, ATIS may be their selected venue for IPTV standards (along with Cisco and Juniper), as Verizon's CTO has just become a Vice Chairman of the group.



Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:11:52 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group Why in the world would ATT get involved with this group, it has marketing as its agenda all over it.??
With exception of the carriers, almost all other members are on the outside looking to get into the dance, just look at who is missing.
What a waste of time. Cisco and AlA are nowhere to be seen. Hype hype and more hype
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:11:50 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group Looks Like IPTV Forum press release is out of Stockholm, gee guess that really makes this a company based initiative like other marketing events before it. Ray, What is specification development without all the main players missing that have open platforms.? How about nothing to take seriously
digits 12/5/2012 | 3:11:49 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group I take your point, and of course there is something in this for the vendor participants in tems of being seen to be doing something worthy.

As you noted in your previous post, "With exception of the carriers, almost all other members are on the outside looking to get into the dance."

But it's the carriers that at least make this an interesting development. France Telecom has one of the world's biggest existing IPTV customer bases and is rolling out service in multiple countries, while AT&T and TI are carriers that others listen to.

If nothing else, this sends a very loud message about the open systems requirements of large carriers.


yarn 12/5/2012 | 3:11:47 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group Yes Ray, but the point Honestly is making is that all the major standards bodies like ATIS, ITU, ETSI, DVB and others are already working on that with a much broader industry representation. If you checked into who are driving those activities you would find all the usual suspects are present. Then ask yourself again why this additional ad-hoc team was created...
flyingsausage 12/5/2012 | 3:11:44 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group just wondering...

one of the most open standardization buddy so far is the IETF, where basically standards are available for anyone to consult (no need to pay crazy membership fees), very open, and allows anyone to comment/edit and create new standards.

if someone would will to push openIPTV, why not starting an IETF IPTV group ?
flyingsausage 12/5/2012 | 3:11:44 PM
re: Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group it would be interesting if lightreading interview the various members of this IPTV Group, in order to try understand better how this is serious or just a marketing splash...
also understand which organization from the operators/vendors are involved in this group.

strangely enough, this is announced during the CeBIT, and doesn't involve any of the vendors deploying IPTV solutions today (the list of missing suspects is very long), with maybe the exception of Siemens with the Myrio platform. on the telecom gears vendors side, only ericsson is there. CPE vendors are missing, set top box vendors are missing...
so, with only one network gears vendor and one middleware vendor, this seems very unopen...
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