DTH

IPTV worldwide subscribers reach 3.6 million

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MUMBAI: The latest worldwide IPTV research from research firm Canalys shows how the number of commercial IPTV launches escalated in 2006, and suggests that IPTV services are now moving into the mainstream.

Worldwide subscribers have reached 3.6 million Western Europe leads, with growth expected in emerging markets this year.

Most major incumbent telecoms providers have launched commercial services and the market is becoming increasingly competitive with the entry of alternative operators, such as ISPs and energy companies.

Canalys senior analyst Nadia Griffiths says, ?2007 will see the competitive landscape become even fiercer as IPTV services from established service providers will be challenged by aggressively priced alternatives from Web TV, cable, satellite and content companies. These are all contenders for a share of the limited wallet of most consumers?.

Western Europe has 2.4 million IPTV subscribers. The sheer number of operators in the region provides its IPTV scale, and major investments in backbone infrastructure are being made as providers rush to build substantial subscriber bases. The IPTV market is highly fragmented. The top five providers account for over 60 per cent of all subscribers, but the rush of service launches by new entrants in 2006 means that there are numerous companies with only a few thousand subscribers each.

The top three providers globally according to Canalys are PCCW on 18.2 per cent share, France Telecom with 16.8 per cent and Free Telecom on 14 per cent. These are joined in the top five by Telefonica and Fastweb.

Threats One of the major threats for many IPTV service providers is the quality of networking once IPTV services become fully fledged. Canalys VP Alessandra Fitzpatrick says, ?IPTV networks will quickly become the most complex and bandwidth intensive that have ever existed. Many service providers have invested millions of euros on network upgrades, but it remains unproven whether IPTV networks can scale into the millions without performance degrading and response times slowing, or even collapsing altogether.

"Another infrastructure challenge is that service providers will quickly have to learn how to manage multiple billing systems and content across large server farms and SANs, while maintaining the highest quality of service.?

The future, however, looks promising. In 2007, Canalys predicts significant uptake of IPTV in the Asia Pacific region. Hong Kong is already a mature IPTV market, and growth will come from emerging markets such as India and China, following large investments into IPTV deployments there. Australia is also finally moving into the commercial phase of its IPTV offerings, which will lead to fast roll-outs of services in 2007. North America will be another major growth area, with AT&T and Verizon already pushing nationwide roll-outs of IPTV services. Western Europe though will continue to lead and set the pace globally for the IPTV industry in the year ahead.

 

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