Vodafone Launches IPTV in Portugal
The mobile and fixed services operator has more than 5.6 million mobile customers (as of the end of March 2009), but still only a small number of fixed broadband customers (believed to be in the low tens of thousands), despite having launched its DSL service in June 2007 and revamped its pricing in September 2008. (See Vodafone Portugal Offers DSL and Vodafone Reprices ADSL.)
The service includes 100 TV channels (including eight in high definition), a DVR with 280 hours of capacity, pause TV functionality, catch-up TV, networking with PCs and multiple set-top boxes, and a video-on-demand service with hundreds of movies. The operator is also going to enable customers to view TV guides and schedule recordings from their mobile phones and PCs.
The basic Vodafone Casa TV package (55 regular TV channels) is free to Vodafone Portugal's existing broadband customers until the end of the year, while a triple-play offer of broadband (up to 24 Mbit/s), voice, and TV will be available to anyone for €19.90 ($28.11) from early September until the end of the year, after which it will cost €39.90 ($56.37) per month.
Vodafone Portugal, though, has its work cut out, as the existing triple-play market is already highly competitive: It's likely the Vodafone operation has struggled to gain a foothold in the fixed broadband market because of the strength of its rivals (including cable operators), and because of the importance of pay TV services to consumers in Portugal, which has a population of about 10.6 million and about 4 million households.
Incumbent carrier Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT) already has 384,000 customers (as of the end of March) for its Meo IPTV service, which has been taken by just over half of its 752,000 retail broadband customers. And now the operator is rolling out a national fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, intending to offering a broader range of interactive content. (See AlcaLu's GPON Goes Portuguese, PT Uses Huawei for FTTH, and Portugal Telecom, Corning Target GPON.)
Its approach, and that of Portugal's other service providers, is based on market demand and trends. Portugal Telecom, in its first-quarter 2009 earnings report, cites market studies showing that Portuguese consumers put the availability of TV services behind only price (and ahead of broadband and voice services) as the most important attributes of a communications service provider.
And, of course, the faster the broadband, the more channels (and more features) can be delivered. That's why the incumbent, Portugal's other broadband operators (Oni Communications and Sonaecom ), and the country's two main cable operators (Cabovisão S.A. and ZON TVCabo ) are all pushing hard with packages that include high-speed broadband and TV/video services. (See Cabovisão Joins Europe's Speed Club , TVCabo Seeks Docsis Independence, Sonaecom Reports Q1, Portugal 'Gets' FTTH, Sonaecom Enhances IPTV, and ZON TV Picks Concurrent.)
For Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), it will be one of the mobile giant's first forays into the world of fixed triple-play services, but not its first. Vodafone Germany and the carrier's Iceland operations already offer IPTV services, and the company recently set up an IPTV R&D center near Frankfurt in Germany. (See V'phone Does IPTV R&D in Germany.)
Vodafone Portugal had not responded to questions from Light Reading as this article was published.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading