Television

IPTV World Forum announces key speakers for next year's event

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MUMBAI: Junction Ltd has announced speakers from across the telecoms and broadcast industry for its March 2007 event IPTV World Forum.

The announcement comes as over 110 exhibitors have already confirmed their attendance at the show being staged at the Olympia in London from 5-7 March 2007.

The conference will feature over 40 worldwide telcos and ISPs discussing IPTV service deployment issues. Speakers include Telefonica, PCCW, Belgacom, BT, SaskTel, Deutsche Telekom AG/T-Com, Telstra, T-Online France, AT&T, Telecom New Zealand, NetCologne, Telekom Austria, Fastweb, BSkyB, Orange, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Siminn.

Junction MD Ian Johnson says, “IPTV is now a major industry phenomenon and next March’s London event will, I believe, be a major landmark for professionals from all over Europe – and beyond – to gather and discuss their experiences together”.

The speakers include Orange UK CEO Bernard Ghillebaert, PCCW head of strategic market development Paul Berriman and BBC director of future media and technology Ashley Highfield.

IPTV Junction notes is moving rapidly towards mass-market adoption. The involvement of incumbent telecoms operators in most major markets by 2007 (France, Spain, Italy, UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, for example) will provide the marketing, word-of-mouth and - for the many conservative-minded television viewers yet to switch to digital TV - the credibility that could boost the market for all IPTV providers.

Several early IPTV deployments are now reaching subscriber figures where they must be taken seriously, including Telefonica in Spain, which has over 200,000 subscribers for its Imagenio television service (launched commercially November 2004). The Spanish company is predicting one million customers by 2008. France Telecom (launched December 2003) doubled its customer count during 2005, ending the year with 200,000 subscribers for its MaLigne TV service too.

The pace of deployment is accelerating: Telekom Austria launched its aonDigitalTV video-over-DSL service in Vienna in March 2006 and KPN in the Netherlands is preparing for a second quarter (2006) commercial launch. Deutsche Telekom is hoping to roll out its 100 channel broadcast TV (including HDTV) and VOD service late summer 2006 and BT has scheduled late summer/autumn for its hybrid DSL/DTT offering.

Competition is also increasing. Utility companies continue to launch television services but the main rivals to the big telcos are alternative broadband providers using Local Loop Unbundling (LLU). The second half of 2006 and 2007 will also see the expansion of incumbent telcos into territories outside their domestic markets - where necessary using LLU to compete with their peers on ‘leased’ networks.

France Telecom has already announced that it will launch IPTV in Spain, the UK and Poland this year, followed by the Netherlands (not to mention Mauritius, Senegal and the Ivory Coast). Meanwhile Telecom Italia - through its subsidiary HanseNet - is adding television to its existing telephone and DSL services in Germany, starting in Hamburg. Telecom Italia also launched television services in France (via Telecom Italia France’s AliceBox triple-play service) in January. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Online is taking IPTV to Hungary, with a planned commercial roll-out of TV-over-DSL in Budapest and other major cities later this year.

And to add further spice to this market, existing Pay TV operators from the satellite and cable world are buying into DSL. BSkyB bought UK DSL network provider Easynet in January (2006) to give itself a two-way network and exploit the “exciting opportunities that now exist to combine quality entertainment with significant high-speed connections.” Europe’s largest satellite TV provider has told investors that it intends to introduce IPTV some time after 2007. Meanwhile, UPC Austria (part of the pan-European UPC group owned by Liberty Global) has agreed to acquire the Austrian xDSL provider Inode - so establishing a national footprint, initially for high-speed data and voice.

All this activity is underpinned by network upgrades across Europe. BT in the UK is now committed to delivering ADSL speeds up 8Mbps from 5,300 telephone exchanges in the UK - putting broadband in reach of 99.6 per cent of the country. France Telecom and Telefonica, among others, are using ADSL2+ and Deutsche Telekom will deploy television services exclusively on VDSL, using the 50Mbps fibre/copper network being built by its fixed network infrastructure division, T-Com. T-Com expects VDSL in 40 cities by the end of 2007, putting 11 million homes within reach of the planned IPTV service.

So with high-speed networks available and expanding their reach, multiple service launches and growing subscriber figures, the big questions are how much market share IPTV providers can take from satellite and cable, and whether they can make money - if indeed, video revenues are their real motive rather than simply reducing churn on voice/data customers. Are there digital TV newcomers who will choose IPTV ahead of digital terrestrial - and are these the customers IPTV providers want? And can companies differentiate their services sufficiently from cable and satellite to tempt existing Pay TV subscribers away from them?

These are among the many topics that will be discussed at the IPTV World Forum 2007 in London - the No.1 conference/exhibition for the IPTV community. You can read more about the 2007 conference theme elsewhere on this site.

IPTV World Forum 2007 provides a chance to assess the lessons learned from video-over-DSL and FTTH deployments in the preceding 18 months. With incumbent telcos like BT and Deutsche Telekom preparing to deploy during 2006, and an increasing number of ISPs using Local Loop Unbundling to offer competitive services, the conference will assess the impact of new services, the business models used, marketing strategies and the many technology issues that determine the service offer and IPTV economics.

By next year, it will be clear what impact telecoms giants like France Telecom and Telefonica are having in the Pay TV market and what effect their video offers have had in terms of reducing customer churn and cementing relationships with voice/data subscribers. With some business analysts suggesting national telcos should retreat from the video business as fast as they got into it, a key theme for IPTV World Forum 2007 is whether telco TV is working.

So for 2007, the forum will be assessing the motives of incumbent telcos, utility providers and ISPs and asking whether their business objectives are being met, at what cost, and whether IPTV looks sustainable in the face of content-rich satellite operators, modernising cable companies and increasingly successful free-to-air and Pay TV digital terrestrial platforms.

IPTV World Forum 2007 will consider the threats and opportunities facing new video providers - including the emergence of ‘over-the-top’ video services from Internet-based content aggregators/downloaders like Google TV and Apple iTunes. The conference will look at how incumbent telcos in particular handle their relationships with these companies - including how they can partner with them, seek to obstruct them, or beat them at their own game.

The conference will focus heavily on how IPTV operators differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded television marketplace. We will look at integrated voice/data/video services, assess the full potential of IMS (Integrated Multimedia Subsystems) and look at how some telcos are seeking to put each consumer at the heart of their own, personalised video universe that stretches beyond the home to their mobile devices and remote Internet connections.

The confeernce will assess service strategies including how HDTV can be monetised most effectively, and how PVR, network PVR and Video on Demand can be harnessed to provide seamless on-demand experiences. The conference will examine how operators can link live broadcast TV with on-demand TV and on-demand/interactive advertising, and how interactive applications can be exploited to increase customer satisfaction and revenues.

Network economics (including technology developments in content distribution, headends and backbone/last mile networks) will be assessed. The conference will also consider home networking strategies, including the best way to move video around homes - and how the video experience can be extended to portable devices. Customer Premise Equipment and Digital Rights Management technology and strategies will be assessed.

Content strategies are another important subject that will be covered at IPTV World Forum 2007 - including availability, pricing, bundling, up selling, loss-leading and promotions. The conference will look at what type of content is working on IP networks today, and what kind of content can help drive ambitions for whole-home and mobile video experiences. The conference will assess locally created IPTV content and assess whether telcos should make content king - or focus on building services (like home networks) that lock customers in.

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