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Video services

Tablets & TV

3:25 PM -- A couple of news items from Spain and Germany piqued my interest this week for different reasons.

First, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) announced that customers of its mobile division Movistar in Spain can get a ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) tablet device for free if they sign up for a €49 (US$71.32) monthly package. Free tablet offers already? (See Euronews: May 4 and Telefonica Offers Low-Cost Tablet With ZTE.)

I know the model of a free device with a high-value monthly package is well tried and tested, but the tablet sector is still embryonic. Maybe Telefónica is being overly aggressive and will find its margins squeezed by this offer. Or this could be the start of a flood of low-cost tablet devices from China that will radically reshape the European smart mobile device market, especially as Telefónica is such an influential player in the pan-European mobile market.

The second bit of news is that German cable operator Tele Columbus AG is developing a new HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) service with NDS Ltd. , an existing video technology partner and natural player in this space, and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See Tele Columbus Offers HbbTV With AlcaLu, NDS.)

The interesting thing here is that AlcaLu's involvement is not as a supporting network infrastructure equipment supplier but as the company that will host, manage and deliver the service that end users will access through the NDS set-top boxes. So this is AlcaLu extending its managed service capabilities into hosted video content delivery, while Tele Columbus decides which content partners it wants to play with.

AlcaLu CEO Ben Verwaayen has been preaching "applications enablement" as the new mantra at the vendor -- here's another example of that strategy put into action in a market (German cable sector) where you wouldn't normally expect to find the equipment giant.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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