Paris Presents Blurred TV Picture

PARIS -- If there's one major take-away from the first day of this bustling and energetic TV-Over-DSL 2005 conference in Paris, it's this: No one can agree on anything. And that's got to be confusing for carriers hoping to map out a strategy for delivering TV and video over their copper plants.

After nine hours of presentations, debate, and show floor shuffling, the average carrier executive's head must have been spinning. While large vendors such as Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Siemens Communications Group say that almost anything is possible right now with the technology that's already available, smaller, niche players are warning that technical incompatibilities, content rights dilemmas, and set-top box confusion are waiting to bite the service providers in le cul.

So as the show exhibitors and conference speakers rev up following a night out in Gay Paree, here are some snippets from yesterday's proceedings.

Microsoft: Alcatel Link Just Talk
Hemang Mehta, group product manager at Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) TV business, was vague when asked about a potential partnership with rival Alcatel (see Alcatel, Microsoft Tuning IPTV Deal).

"There has been speculation of a relationship, but we are always talking to a lot of potential partners. We're working with Alcatel at SBC, and I think people have maybe jumped to conclusions because of that," says Mehta (see SBC Awards Microsoft $400M IPTV Deal ).

The Microsoft man, who also appeared on a 10-person panel at the close of the day (there's a moderator's nightmare -- who's at the end of the table again?), says his company is in a number of trials with European operators other than the already announced Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) and Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI) engagements, but he can reveal no more. And he only smiled when asked about BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA). (See BT Puts IPTV to the Test.)

RFPs to the Left of Us, RFPs to the Right
Word on the show floor here in Paris is that a number of cities and municipalities have issued RFPs for TV-over-DSL projects, with the Netherlands at the heart of the action.

According to one visitor, who requested anonymity, Amsterdam has issued its second request for proposal to vendors as it looks to provide video over its planned citywide fiber network, while Rotterdam issued its first late in 2004.

And the Spanish are taking an interest, too, according to this source. Amsterdam's project involves about 450,000 homes, but a city collective in Northern Spain that comprises many more homes has also issued a tender document that's exciting the interest of vendors.

Quote of the Day
Rik Missault, VP of marketing at Alcatel's fixed solutions division, reminds attendees what the event's all about: "TV is still the main application for TV over DSL."

What to Do With the Set-Top Box?
With so many companies focused on major network elements that enable video delivery – DSLAMs, encoders, servers, and so on -- a major preoccupation of conference attendees in Paris is the role of the set-top box.

Should it be dumb? Or intelligent? Sold at cost, with a margin, or as a customer-attracting loss leader? And who owns the end-user device? The carrier or the content owners?

The debate is linked to the discussion over personal video recorder (PVR) services. Should the PVR be a hard drive on the set-top box, and situated at the home (where children can stick pencils into it and the family pet fait pipi on it). Or should PVR capabilities be held in the network?

Guess which option the storage vendors favor.

TV and video system news announcements of note from the past few days:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

swxu 12/5/2012 | 3:28:30 AM
re: Paris Presents Blurred TV Picture Here in Hong Kong we have the TV over ADSL since Sep 2003 and there are already over 300K subscribers. I wonder what is difference between that are under trials, say by Microsoft and Orca, with such a small number of lines for trial. Might be we should have a look if that in Hong Kong has some dirty tricks which is not TV over ADSL.
kentishman 12/5/2012 | 3:28:27 AM
re: Paris Presents Blurred TV Picture I think the difference is because in Hongkong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan the service is generally delivered over VDSL. not ADSL. VDSL works at much higher bit rates but only up to arrounf 1km max. The reason these technologies work in the densley populated areas of the Far East is that most people live in huge high rise buildings and therfore the service can work using Fiber to the Building. In UK and most of Europe very few people live in High Rise. Therfore VDSL is a non starter as a technology for delivering video.
Europe needs ADSL 2+ to deliver minimum of 16 Mbit/s up to 3 km from the central office to make Video on demand a working solution. Because ADSL2+ has promised much but not really delivered so far there is significant confusion over what is possible. This means that service providers are still waiting to see which direction to follow. And nor making a decision.
Of course hopefully better compression techniques plus tweaking of ADSL2+ just might make everything converge. However the Set Top box will be a key to this since it will need to bufffer record and deliver the final signals to the customer and present an experience that is better than that delivered by satellite (and in many instances Broad Band cable).
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