Europe has emerged as the world's leading IPTV region, largely due to frenzied triple play service competition in France and deployments by major carriers in Italy, Spain, and Germany. (See DT Sees Uptick in IPTV, Euro Telcos Ramp Up IPTV Subs, and French Dominate IPTV Top Ten.)
Those rollouts, combined with high broadband penetration levels and increasing pressure on traditional voice service revenues, have acted as catalysts for widespread deployments and a relatively large number of TV-over-broadband service providers, ranging from experienced Tier 1 operators such as Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), to competitive carriers such as Tiscali UK , Italy's Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA , Spain's Jazztel plc , and Greek player ON Telecoms S.A. . (See Greek Altnet Bags Further Funds, Italians Turn On to IPTV, Kasenna Powers Jazztel, and DT Rival Launches IPTV .)
As a result, Europe boasts more than half of the world's IPTV subscribers, according to statistics compiled earlier this year by Point Topic Ltd. for the Broadband Forum (formerly the DSL Forum). (See table below.)
Table 1: Europe Leads the IPTV Regional Rankings
|Region||IPTV subscribers Q1 2008||IPTV subscribers Q1 2007|
|South and East Asia||2,086,000||1,353,000|
|Middle East and Africa||10,000||10,000|
|Source: Broadband Forum|
With Europe's IPTV subscriber base set to grow steadily in the coming years as more carriers, such as Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), ramp up their activities, IBC provides operators of all sizes, and at all stages of the telco TV development cycle, to catch up with the latest technology developments. (See Telenor Plans FTTH, IPTV in 2008 and Thomson, Ericsson Bag IPTV Deals.)
Traditionally a targeted broadcast industry event, IPTV and mobile TV have, during the past few years, become key topics during IBC, which now has a dedicated 'IPTV Zone' housing more than 50 specialist vendors, such as Edgeware AB , Minerva Networks Inc. , Shenick Network Systems Ltd. , and Tilgin AB , that have Europe's telecom and cable operators in their sights.
But they'll be fighting for exhibition hall footfall with the IPTV sector's big guns, including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , and Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), as well as the likes of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), BitBand , and Packet Vision Ltd. . (See Harmonic Preps for IBC , BitBand Dispels IPTV Myths, Packet Vision, UDcast Team Up, and Arris to Show Off.)
So what's set to be causing a buzz at this year's IBC? With experienced carriers such as Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG), Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB), France Telecom, its French rival Iliad (Euronext: ILD), Telefónica, and Telia Company looking to develop value-added services they can offer to their already significant IPTV subscriber bases, hardware and software platforms that can manage and deliver advertising and user-generated content are expected to feature prominently.
In addition, Heavy Reading senior analyst Adi Kishore believes multi-platform service capabilities –- the ability to deliver video content to multiple screens (TV, PC, mobile phone) seamlessly –- will likely be a hot topic, and that content owners as well as carriers and cable operators are keen to know more about such capabilities.
Kishore, a digital content specialist, says Ericsson has been "the most aggressive in this area with its Televisionary campaign," though other major vendors such as AlcaLu, and video server specialists such as SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) and Arris, have developments in this area. (See Arris to Show Off, Arris Sews Up C-COR, and SeaChange to Restart & Personalize VOD .)
But the analyst notes that while the goal of enabling seamless, multi-screen services is "the end game" for the IPTV sector, it's something that's still at the "proof of concept" stage at present for service providers and vendors. "Enabling these services requires a very complicated ecosystem" that will develop in a modular fashion as vendors add incremental capabilities to their existing platforms," says Kishore. "It's the big guys who are talking about this the most at the moment, but vendors of all sizes will be supporting this idea," he adds. (See Ericsson Shows Off IPTV.)
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading