China Set for IPTV Explosion
The uptake of IPTV in China is set to accelerate dramatically during the next four years following the reshuffle of the country's carriers and the introduction of a more favorable regulatory environment.
According to statistics and forecasts from Pyramid Research , the number of active IPTV lines in China, which has almost 400 million households and a population of more than 1.3 billion, is set to grow from 2.2 million at the end of 2008 to more than 6.6 million at the end of 2010, and reach nearly 14.9 million by the end of 2012.
DSL will continue to dominate as the broadband access technology carrying the IPTV services. According to the Pyramid team, all IPTV services were delivered over DSL lines in 2008: Fiber access connections (FTTx) won't play a significant role in the delivery of IPTV services until 2012, when they will account for about 2.3 million of China's telco TV lines, or about 16 percent of the total.
China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) will be the dominant carrier in the IPTV market, with China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) playing the supporting role. China Telecom commanded 80 percent of the market at the end of 2008 and is set to command a 73 percent share by the end of 2012, according to Pyramid's estimates.
But these carriers don't hold licenses to deliver TV services. Instead they need to partner with regulated media companies that have been awarded IPTV licenses by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television to deliver a bundled service that includes broadband and TV/video content.
Four companies have so far received IPTV licenses: Shanghai Media Group (SMG) ; China Central Television (CCTV); Southern Media; and China Radio International.
Shanghai Media Group has made the most headway, forming BesTV , a joint venture with IT goods vendor Tsing Hua Tong Fang Corp., to work with China Telecom and China Unicom. According to BesTV, among the license-holders it held about three quarters of the total Chinese IPTV market at the end of last year.
BesTV is working with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) as its IPTV service delivery technology partners, and with UTStarcom, ZTE, and Coship Electronics Co. Ltd. for set-top boxes.
Find out more about BesTV and the IPTV market in China in this LRTV interview:
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading