Ericsson Takes On IPTV Giants

The Swedish giant challenges the likes of AlcaLu, Microsoft, and Thomson with a new IPTV middleware solution

September 9, 2008

3 Min Read
Ericsson Takes On IPTV Giants

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has upped its IPTV game with the launch of a new, developed-from-scratch IPTV middleware solution to rival the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Nokia Networks , Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), and UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI). (See Ericsson Bows IPTV Middleware.)

The news is just one of many telco TV announcements expected this week as the market gears up for the annual IBC show in Amsterdam, where Ericsson is planning to show off a lot of gear. (See Europe Gears Up for IPTV Showcase and Ericsson Shows Off at IBC.)

Having effectively bought its way into the telco TV market with the acquisition of Tandberg Television in the Spring of 2007, the company has been working on a middleware system that will help piece together its IPTV offering together, says Alan Delaney, Tandberg TV's IPTV Business Development Director. (See Ericsson: Tandberg Is Key to IPTV, Ericsson Offers $1.4B for Tandberg TV, and Thomson, Ericsson Bag IPTV Deals.)

Delaney says Ericsson has pieced together a complete package for IPTV hopefuls in the fixed and mobile space, including telecom network infrastructure, applications, and video equipment and software. Add to that list the middleware, which is "something fundamentally new... it's not built from anything we previously had." It's "the glue" that pulls it all together, he notes.

"We've been working on this in a number of different geographies and using expertise from a number of different parts of the company. It's part of the drive to enable an end-to-end service across multiple platforms. It's IMS [IP Multimedia Subsystem]-enabled, and is aimed at operators that need scalability and an open standards-based platform -- it's based on specifications from the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) ," says Delaney. (See IMS: As Seen on TV.)

"At IBC we'll be showing how it can enable services such as messaging, presence, and chat services between [for example] a set-top box and a mobile phone in an IMS, but it's also ready for non-IMS environments too," adds the Tandberg TV man, who says the solution is ready now for operators to trial.

The reference to the IPTV Forum is important: That group was set up in March 2007 and was notable at the time for not having AlcaLu and Microsoft as founder members. (See Carriers, Vendors Form IPTV Group.)

While Thomson and AlcaLu have since joined, Microsoft has stayed away, and is often cited as the company that doesn't sell an open standards-based offering, though that hasn't stopped it from landing multiple (though not all) Tier-1 IPTV customers. (See Telecom Italia Rejects Microsoft IPTV, Wind Joins Euro IPTV Surge, Microsoft Seals $500M IPTV Deal, Singtel Does IPTV, AT&T Launches HDTV, and Microsoft Wins IPTV Deal at DT.)

So is Ericsson targeting Microsoft in particular with this launch? And are AlcaLu and Microsoft still the companies Ericsson needs to muscle out in major carrier RFPs? (See Thomson Joins Open IPTV Forum .)

AlcaLu and Microsoft "are always at the table, but the strategy is not to go after any specific rivals," says Delaney diplomatically, "but to deliver a solution to the market that can go up against any other rival, whether an incumbent or a new entrant," he adds.

Yeah, right. Let battle commence!

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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