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IPTV Roundup: Tandberg TV's Big Hit

Tandberg Television handed prospective parent Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) some good news Thursday by announcing it has won a video on demand (VOD) software deal worth at least $23.7 million over the next two years. (See Tandberg TV Wins VOD Order, Ericsson Offers $1.4B for Tandberg TV, and Ericsson: Tandberg Is Key to IPTV.)

The deal, with an unidentified cable operator, excited analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort , who noted Tandberg TV's "rich gross margin" of around 60 percent. "Tandberg is likely to add to EPS," they added in a research note.

The Dresdner team also sees significant revenue opportunities for Ericsson in the cable sector once the Tandberg TV takeover is completed. "The encouraging news heightens the impression that Tandberg will open up new avenues of growth. By cross-selling Marconi's optics and Redback's edge routers, Ericsson could generate $1 billion of extra sales from cable operators."

Ericsson still has to close the deal, though. Earlier this week it had the backing of 70 percent of Tandberg TV shareholders for its all-cash offer. It will see later today whether it has the 90 percent backing it wants to close the deal. If it doesn't, it will either withdraw the offer or waive the condition.

Ericsson and Tandberg TV aren't the only telco TV newsmakers, though.

Thomson lands another IPTV deal
Slovenian incumbent Telekom Slovenije has launched an IPTV service using the SmartVision middleware platform from French vendor Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453). (See SiOL Does IPTV With Thomson.)

Though SiOL, Telekom Slovenije's retail arm, is relatively small and so won't be generating major revenues for Thomson, the win will provide the vendor with a much needed additional IPTV middleware reference customer.

Orange (NYSE: FTE) is SmartVision's flagship customer, with more than 600,000 IPTV customers hooked up to the system, but the lack of other major deployments is clearly a concern for the French carrier, which doesn't want to be the only carrier supporting the technology. FT is even offering to help other carriers check out Thomson's technology, along with the other video elements it's using, in an effort to broaden the customer base of its suppliers. (See France Telecom: 'More IPTV, Please'.)

And while there's demand for IPTV systems, especially in Europe, landing deals is still tough, especially against the combined might of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which have already had some success in Central and Eastern Europe. (See Microsoft Adds Three for IPTV, Alcatel-Lucent Unveils IPTV Strategy, and Europe to Dominate IPTV Growth.)

Telekom Slovenije isn't the only European carrier to have launched IPTV services recently. Danish incumbent TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC) has turned on TDC TV, while another carrier relying on the Alcatel-Lucent/Microsoft combo, Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), said it had 20,000 IPTV customers at the end of 2006. (See TDC Launches IPTV Service and Swisscom Reports '06.)

Greek player has pan-European touch
Check this out for a real "European" IPTV player. ON Telecoms SA is a Greek alternative operator that has launched its service in Athens, is owned by a company that is registered in the Netherlands, and managed by a team that has experience of Greek telecom and of triple-play service provision in Italy and Germany, namely at Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and HanseNet Telekommunikation GmbH . (See FastWeb Reports 2006 and DT Rival Launches IPTV .)

The company, owned by Dutch firm ON Network Holdings N.V., is funded (for an unknown amount) primarily by Argo Global Capital LLC , with additional input from the management team. Greek media reports suggest the company, which already owns a 95,000-kilometer fiber network in the Greek capital, is on track to invest up to €150 million (US$200 million) during the next two years.

ON Telecoms is using headend gear from Optibase Ltd. (Nasdaq: OBAS), content security technology from Verimatrix Inc. , and video servers from BitBand . (See Verimatrix Secures Greek IPTV, ON Telecoms Launches IPTV, and Optibase Gets ON.)

Unusually, Greece is now becoming something of a hotbed of alternative network and service developments. (See Ericsson Wires Up Greek City.)

T-Vips gets more cash
T-VIPS AS , the Norwegian video-over-IP specialist, has closed its second round of funding. (See T-VIPS Raises Funds.)

The company, which has developed a range of gateways designed specifically for routing video traffic over IP networks, has banked 15 million Norwegian Kroner ($2.5 million) to add to the $4.5 million it raised in 2005. Again, the funding has been provided equally by Northzone Ventures and Selvaag Venture Capital .

T-Vips, currently on Light Reading "Top Ten New Startups" list, has announced a few more deployments in recent months and will be keeping a close eye on developments in the latest Ericsson acquisition saga, as Tandberg TV is a key OEM partner. (See T-VIPS Deployed in France and Digita Picks T-VIPS Gear.)

Other IPTV news announcements of note include:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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