The competitive carrier, which has been working closely with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and its partner Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to prepare its triple play service package, trails its rivals Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and Telecom Italia (TIM) into the telco TV market. (See Wind, Telefónica Pick Alcatel.)
Wind has adopted a similar approach to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) by using a hybrid set-top box that can take free-to-air TV channels through a roof-top aerial and premium, value-added content, such as sports and movies, over the broadband connection.
The operator, which has nearly 1 million broadband customers currently, has launched its service initially in Rome and Milan, Italy. Its basic IPTV service, including a range of about 20 free-to-air TV channels and a PVR-enabled Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) set-top box, costs just €7 per month after the €99 activation fee, or €49.50 for those that sign up before the end of the year. Premium packages including movies or sports are available starting at €36 per month (current promotional offer of €15 per month). All costs are in addition to broadband line charges.
Wind has some catching up to do. FastWeb was one of the world's triple play pioneers, having launched its IPTV service back in 2003, and now has more than 170,000 customers using its TV and video services over its broadband connections. (That was the figure given at the beginning of this year before Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) acquired the Italian operator.) (See Swisscom Bids $4.9B for FastWeb.)
Telecom Italia, meanwhile, launched its Alice Home TV service in December 2005 in partnership with Alcatel (as it was at the time), though it doesn't provide details on how many of its 6.2 million retail broadband customers use that service. (See TI Unveils IPTV Lineup.)
The Italian incumbent has, like Wind, been developing services with Microsoft, but, more than three years after first announcing the relationship, has yet to use the software giant's platform to provide commercial services. (See Microsoft IPTV: Now That's Italian! and TI Develops IPTV With Microsoft.)
TUŠ dreams of IPTV growth
In Slovenia, TUŠ Telekom d.d. is deploying IPTV middleware software from Swedish specialist Dreampark AB to take its telco TV service, launched in September 2006, to the next level. (See TUS Uses Dreampark for IPTV.)
TUŠ, formerly known as Voljatel, is one of a number of competitive carriers competing against incumbent Telekom Slovenije . It currently has 12,500 broadband subscribers and is reselling wholesale DSL lines as well as adding its own DSL gear to Telekom's local exchanges, with 33 locations unbundled to date. (See Zhone Flaunts FiberSLAM, Voljatel Uses NetCentrex, and Slovenia Snacks on Fiber Diet.)
TUŠ says it evaluated a number of IPTV middleware platforms from companies such as Espial Group Inc. , Nokia Networks (Myrio), and Slovenian firm Smart Com, which offers its BeeSmart platform, before picking the Swedish firm's Dreampark solution.
Other IPTV news of note includes:
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading