IBM's message to the telecom operator world is this: We've got the IT systems and integration smarts you need to put video and TV services on your network. IBM says it's lining up a bundle of specialist partners, from the video headend to the set-top box, with proven video system capabilities and deployment experience.
"Primarily, we can help carriers develop their IPTV business model and create a service delivery platform, supply the relevant systems, and provide integration and support services," says Shelley Sackett, global marketing manager for IBM's digital media group.
That's quite an advance on the company's previous IPTV involvement, which has centered around a few triple-play partnerships (see IBM, Orca Partner on IPTV).
IBM says it has already built a position in the sector as an IPTV integration partner to China Netcom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CN; Hong Kong: 0906) and BCE Inc. (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), better known as Bell Canada (see China Shapes Up for IPTV Boom).
So is IBM ready to butt heads with telco TV heavyweights Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)? It may be ready to compete with these companies on the integration and software front. Alcatel and Microsoft have been winning the major carrier deals lately (see Alcatel & Microsoft Going Steady, SBC Awards Microsoft $400M IPTV Deal , and Mais Alors! Alcatel Bags $1.7B SBC Deal ).
But in many cases, IBM could serve as just another, complementary supplier to the massive telecom networks being built for IPTV. A spokeswoman says IBM is performing a lot of the integration work for Alcatel at SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), where Alcatel is the IPTV outsourcer. If that's the case, then the outsourcer has outsourced the outsourcing work!
So what is IBM offering carriers? Here's a rundown:
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading