Nortel 'Applies' Itself in IPTV
Going on the belief that the middleware market has become commoditized, Nortel is preparing to launch a series of IPTV applications to place on top of the middleware, hoping that will create a stir among carriers.
"Part of our belief is that applications are where the future value is," says Grant Hall, leader of video solutions marketing at Nortel.
Nortel's new Video Services Platform (VSP) 9500 sits on top of the IPTV middleware and allows telcos to add Nortel's or any other vendor's applications to their service offerings. Hall says the key selling point of the VSP is that it is based on open-standard interfaces that allow it to work with any vendor's middleware.
"The architecture is such that we can build adapters for any other middleware. Since a lot of operators already have their own in-house middleware, it allows us to build adapters onto them and gain Tier 1 customers," Hall says.
That means Nortel is looking beyond the IPTV middleware partnerships it has with vendors like Minerva Networks Inc. "We're selling our applications not just to our middleware partners," Hall says. "The intention of the platform is to work with multiple middlewares."
Nortel has made a lot of noise about developing its IPTV business, but as of yet has failed to generate much traction. It has only one major customer, in Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T), and its six or seven other customers are Tier 2 and 3 operators.
About a year ago, it was widely speculated that Nortel would make acquisitions in the IPTV space in order to develop an end-to-end offering, but nothing ever materialized. It has instead relied on reseller partnerships with other vendors. (See Sources: Nortel Planning IPTV Acquisitions, NDS Joins Nortel's IPTV Party, and Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners.)
Applications, then, might be Nortel's best bet for grabbing some Tier 1 business.
"In the Tier 1 space, most of them have made their technology selections," Hall says. "That's where this platform comes in, to work with the incumbent middleware provider and add stuff on top of it. We think it changes the game, taking a middleware-agnostic approach."
Nortel acknowledges that landing Tier 1 business will be essential to its success in IPTV. Major IPTV carriers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) are already in the process of adding more and more applications to their services, so it's still unclear how ripe that space is for Nortel to swoop in on.
Nortel will show some of its new IPTV applications at the IPTV World Forum show in London next week. Examples include integrating voicemail and click-to-call features onto the TV screen -- applications Nortel says aren't widely deployed on IPTV networks yet.
— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading