June 20, 2007
IPTV 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.