Video services

Czechs Check Out IPTV

Central European operator Cesky Telecom a.s. is the latest European incumbent operator to throw its hat into the IPTV ring, as it works towards a TV-over-broadband service launch next year. (See Telecom Italia Trials IPTV, Microsoft Wins at BT, Swisscom IPTV Stall Sends Shivers, IPTV in Iceland, TeliaSonera Offers TV Over DSL, and French Say Oui to DSL TV.)

The carrier, which was acquired earlier this year by Spanish giant Telefónica SA, has been awarded a license from the Czech broadcasting council that enables it to launch a TV-over-DSL service to broadband customers, which currently number 180,000 and rising (see Telefonica Buys Cesky Telecom).

While Cesky, which sources its DSL equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., is not providing any details about its technology choices or timetable at present, the operator is believed to be aiming for a 2006 service launch (see Cesky Telecom Picks Huawei ).

An industry insider, who requested anonymity, says the Cesky team is waiting for technology guidance from its new Spanish owner, which has built an internal IPTV support and operations team and developed some of its own content delivery applications. Telefónica is ramping up its own IPTV service, called Imagenio, in an effort to hit the 200,000 user mark by the end of the year, up from just 40,000 at the start of 2005 (see Telefónica Prepares for IPTV Test and Telefónica Chooses Corinex).

Like many national operators, Cesky is coming under increasing competitive pressure from cable operators such as United Pan-Europe Communications NV (UPC) (Nasdaq: UPCOY). (See Competition Trumps Demand in Euro IPTV.) In the Czech Republic, which has a population of just over 10 million, cable firms provide broadcast services to more than 800,000 homes, and they are challenging Cesky with their own broadband services.

News of Cesky's plans come as research house IDC predicts that the market for IPTV services in Western Europe will grow from $262 million this year to be worth $2.5 billion in 2009, with France, Italy, and Spain combined accounting for more than 60 percent of revenues in four years' time (see IDC Predicts Euro IPTV Growth).

IDC reckons the Western European market has grown more than fourfold in the past year, with IPTV services generating just $62 million in revenues in 2004, which shows that carriers are doing more than just talking about triple play and are actually delivering.

Huw Price-Stephens, international director of technology at video server and IPTV middleware platform vendor Kasenna Inc., says "there are a lot of IPTV RFPs out there at the moment," and he's noticed a shift in carriers' focus (see FastWeb Picks Kasenna).

"The technical challenges aren't the main issues for the operators any more," says Price-Stephens. "There's a lot more focus now on service development and operational issues. Carriers know what they need to do with their networks -- now they're looking at what services they can deliver and how they can manage that process."

Telco TV and video developments will be one of the key topics of debate at Light Reading's upcoming The Future of Telecom – Europe 2005 event in London on September 7 and 8.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:04:22 AM
re: Czechs Check Out IPTV With additional equipment to add to the network, content to acquire, video skills to bring in, and mass marketing efforts to be made, can carriers such as Cesky hope to make any money from offering TV over broadband? Or is this more about customer retention?
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 3:04:21 AM
re: Czechs Check Out IPTV Ray,

IPTV is a loss-leader for telcos (ie: offered at a price below the telco's cost). This is the only way they will bring customers away from cable. It also has to be attractively packaged (ie: bundled) with other services to make any reasonable marketshare gains.

The communications marketplace is changing and is now bringing entertainment content into the mix. Is a video offering necessary for telcos? I believe that it is, but I also believe that it is only a video-enabling capability that telcos have to supply. By this I mean that telcos have to get content providers to offer their content via an IP-based portal and not exclusively through cable or satellite providers.

Telcos have to increase their bandwidth to the customer (eg: FTTx & VDSL2) or any video offering is a myth. If a carrier is making enormous network investments just to bring video to its consumers...sell your stock. They had better have a bigger plan to attract/retain customers than just video or they are in for a rude, and expensive, awakening.

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