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Video services

KPN Takes Fast Route to TV

Dutch incumbent operator KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is to resell an over-the-air digital broadcast TV service so that it can offer a triple-play service package of voice, data, and TV as soon as possible (see KPN to Offer Digital TV ).

Providing TV and/or video services as part of a bundle is an increasingly hot topic for carriers (see Siemens Gears Up for IPTV, Belgacom to Trial Interactive TV, Venice Awash With Triple Play, Video Smokes in Amsterdam, and Euro Telcos Flirt With TV ).

And like other large incumbent carriers, KPN needs to generate new sales from services such as TV and video as fast as possible as its traditional voice revenues fade away, though profits from the new services are far from guaranteed (see KPN's Q1 Profit Falls, Video Profits on Pause?, and Analysys: TV Biz Looks Risky).

But as many other European service providers arrange IP TV trials and examine the technical and business aspects of delivering TV and video services over their fixed broadband (mostly DSL) connections, KPN is to resell the service of Digitenne, a digital TV broadcaster in which the Dutch incumbent holds a 30 percent stake.

From October 18, subscribers can get a small antenna, digital receiver, and smart card that will allow them to receive 25 TV and 17 radio channels on a TV (but not PCs). The service will be available initially in the country's main cities that account for 45 percent of Dutch households, and can be bought by anyone for €13.95 ($17.17) per month. The service is due to be available nationwide by the end of 2006.

The triple-play aspect comes in the billing and single point of contact for subscribers that already have KPN telecom services. Those who have a KPN phone line and DSL service can get the TV and radio service for nearly half the standard price, €7.95 ($9.78) per month, while those with a fixed or mobile line from KPN can get it for €10.95 ($13.48).

But this is just KPN's opening triple-play gambit. The carrier has also just finished conducting a TV-over-DSL trial, and is currently examining the results and user feedback, says a KPN spokeswoman.

It is also hoping to offer its TV and radio package to the whole country via the networks of its cable operator rivals. "About 90 percent of Dutch people get their TV service from cable operators, so that's a good channel," says the spokeswoman. "We have asked the cable operators for permission to sell our service over their networks but we haven't had an answer back yet. If we don't get an answer at all we'll ask the regulator, OPTA, to intervene."

The Digitenne service is broadcast using DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) technology -- basically, the system being adopted for digital services by cable, satellite, and regular terrestrial broadcasters around the world.

Digitenne is using the DVB-T (T for terrestrial) version of the standard, while various mobile vendors and operators are examining the potential of the DVB-H version developed to provide TV and radio streams to handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs (see Phone Vendors Link for Mobile TV).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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