Monday, December 31, 2007
Korea Telecom will not be required to spin off its IPTV business. The country’s broadcasting sector had demanded that Korea Telecom spin off its IPTV unit on concerns that the firm is expanding its monopolistic position into the IPTV market.
It appears that the regulatory issues that have plagued the Korean IPTV market have been resolved by this new law. Hopefully the dueling regulatory bodies in the government that have held it back will now cooperate to create a strong IPTV industry in Korea.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The IPTV lab at Tech Mahindra will include solutions from companies such as Digisoft, Envivio, Harmonic, I-Make, Verimatrix Mototech, and Sun’s Streaming System. The lab will demonstrate a pre-integrated end-to-end IPTV system for tier1, tier2 and tier3 service providers.
This looks like a good move for Sun. There is significant potential for IPTV in the Indian market as well as in other Southern Asia countries.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Two years ago, Guangdong Telecom made its first purchases of IPTV equipments. Huawei won Guangzhou and Shenzhen with 60 thousand subscribers. ZTE won Dongguan and Foshan with 24 thousand subscribers. and UTStarcom won Zhuhai, Shantou and Zhongshan with 6 thousand subscribers.
Guangdong Telecom expects more revenue from IPTV service based on this upgrade.
This is another sign of growing emphasis on IPTV in China. Guangdong includes Shenzen, which is one of the fastest growing areas of China.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Broadband and IPTV is continuing to grow rapidly in China. This is clearly a market where there are still large opportunities available for IPTV systems companies.
Friday, December 21, 2007
- servicEye provides monitoring capabilities at the head end of the network on pre and post IPTV encoding stages .
- Active probe functions with full reference video analysis for detailed video analysis. The active probe also provides a multi-application traffic injection capability that enables service providers to emulate and analyze network and application layer traffic.
- servicEye monitors both variable bit rate (VBR) and constant bit rate (CBR) video streams for SD, HD TV and picture-in-picture (PiP) TV with encrypted and non encrypted video payloads.
Shenick's systems are generally used in carrier IPTV labs to test IPTV systems. They are also used to prove out newly installed networks. These monitoring products take the next step and move Shenick into operational networks. Shenick stated that it expects that its products will be used in the headend to monitor video traffic at the source and at the access nodes to monitor video traffic as it enters the access network and is delivered to the viewer.
These kinds of products are key to the success of IPTV services. IPTV Service providers are starting to see churn due to dissatisfaction with video quality. These carriers have to be able to consistently deliver a high level video experience in order achieve the levels of success that they are looking for.
ZTE offers a complete IPTV system but uses video headends from other companies. It uses Envivio, USC, and Shanghai broadcast for AVS encoders. It may use other vendors for set-top boxes or may include content security from Irdeto or Verimatrix in addition to or in place of its own set-top boxes or content security software.
ZTE's China Netcom AVS deployment will start with 30 thousand subscribers. It is in a city of 2 to 3 million people, so there is room for significant growth.
ZTE believes that its AVS capability gives it a significant competitive advantage in the China market. It stated that China Telecom is testing AVS and that over the air broadcasters are starting to use AVS for digital terrestrial services. ZTE cited three advantages for AVS:
- AVS provides similar quality to MPEG-4 with H.264 at similar bit rates.
- AVS requires less hardware resources than MPEG-4 H.264.
- The intellectual property fees for AVS are less. Specifically AVS does not require the broadcaster to pay royalties as MPEG-4 H.264 does. In addition, the intellectual property fees stay within China.
ZTE stated that there are currently 1.14 million IPTV subscribers in China. People generally prefer IPTV over cable even though it is about 50 percent higher in price because if its interactive and convenience features.
ZTE said that the lack of consensus between MII the telecom regulator and the broadcast regulator is holding IPTV back today. It stated that China Telecom and China Netcom are made up of a set of independent local subsidiaries. ZTE stated that each of these subsidiaries will make its decisions about which IPTV system to use independently.
Keep in mind that this is ZTE's view of the world. It is clearly a significant factor in the China market even though UTStarcom would probably dispute which is number one. I do believe that AVS will be an important factor in China and one where ZTE seems to have an advantage today.
The combination of SFR and Neuf Cegetel will be strong competitor to the incumbent, France Telecom. Neuf Cegetel is a major IPTV provider in France and will bring that to the combination.
TR-135 defines the data model for remote management of Digital Television (IPTV or broadcast) functionality on set-top boxes using protocols defined in TR-069 Amendment 2 and TR-106. This report provides the data model for describing set-top box capabilities such as PVR, IGMP, quality of service, as well as providing a means to enable video service performance monitoring. General use cases are also described in the report, including standard data model profiles that would typically be seen while remotely managing a device of this nature.
In TR-135, the Auto-Configuration Server (ACS) may perform some initial configuration of a newly installed set-top box , but its main functions are configuration of set-top box parameters for trouble management and collection of statistics for Quality of Service (QoS)/Quality of Experience (QoE) monitoring.
The goals of TR-135 are:
- Enable configuration by the ACS of those objects and parameters that are not the responsibility of the IPTV Service Platform.
- Enable operational status monitoring and checking of specific parameters of an STB from an ACS.
- Enable performance monitoring of an arbitrary set of STBs, from one to millions, through estimates of QoS and QoE
- Support various types of set-top boxes, including DTT and IP STBs, with or without PVR and other optional functionality.
- Accommodate set-top box devices that are embedded as part of an Internet Gateway Device (IGD).
- Accommodate set-top box devices that are standalone, i.e. implemented in separate hardware devices.
The trouble management feature of TR-135 means a trained technician may take control of the set-top box remotely to do a number of tasks such as upgrading software and performing diagnostics. This will enable faults to be fixed more quickly and effectively, and negates the needs for many IPTV related truck rolls.
Improved performance management will also allow the automatic monitoring of the set-top box performance. This will enable providers to produce reports on QoS parameters, such as average bit rate, jitter and packet loss ratio; QoE parameters, including including visual quality indicator; and usage statistics, for example, how many set-top boxes are on at a certain time and for how long each of them remains tuned to a certain channel. set-top box QoS/QoE reporting capabilities will allow measurements to be done at the service level, which is of fundamental importance to any operator.Also approved at the meeting was the update to TR-069, TR-069 Amendment 2, which arose from collaboration and input from the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) organization. The DVB Project required support for Multicast download protocols. Working closely together, TR-069 Amendment 2 was developed and now contains changes that add support for Multicast downloads, including some additional fault codes, and for autonomous file transfers, transfers that were not directly requested by the ACS. These changes define CWMP v1.1, and therefore include some new rules for guaranteeing interoperability between CWMP v1.0, v1.1 and future CWMP versions.
Together TR-135 and TR-069 Amendment 2 provide the first stage of the IPTV evolution. These reports set the bar high for quality delivery and customer experience, and give the service provider the tools needed to customize and dramatically improve their IPTV offerings, while reducing their support overhead on new IPTV implementations.
For more about these technical reports check out the following link.
This is important work because TR-069 is the fundamental technology that has been developed to provide remote monitoring, management, and support of devices on home networks, including set-top boxes.
This is a reasonable increase for the first year of service. This install rate will have to increase significantly in 2008 for the company to build its IPTV business.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
With this acquisition, Pace will add BT and Telefonica of Spain as IPTV set-top box customers.
Pace has focused primarily on the cable and satellite set-top box market. Philips will acquire to plum IPTV accounts with the acquisition in BT and Telefonica.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This is a separate development from its Cable PON products that have been discussed earlier in this blog. Cable PON can provide and RF signal over the fiber for the broadcast video channels, but uses 2.4 Mbps in the case of GPON to support data, VoIP, and video on demand services.
RFoG does not improve the performance of an HFC cable network. It is still limited to the 850 MHz to 1 GHz of spectrum that is available today. Consequently, this approach does not provide any advantage for cable compared to a telco FTTH service.
Motorola is introducing RFoG and Cable PON as alternative architectures to respond to the requests from new housing developments for fiber connections. Developers find that they can command a premium up to $10,000 for new fiber connected homes. Verizon and ATT are both offering GPON FTTH services for these greenfield developments.
Cable companies can compete head on with the telcos using Motorola's Cable PON products. Some cable companies would like to stay close to their existing architecture and are interested in the RFoG approach and believe that their existing networks provide sufficient performance to be competitive. Motorola stated that it is looking at ways to facilitate the evolution of an RFoG network to a Cable PON network so that cable companies initially selecting an RFoG approach can move to Cable PON as performance requirements increase. Motorola will start delivering RFoG in 2H08 for trials and initial deployments.
It looks like Motorola has the cable companies covered with both GPON and RFoG technologies. Personally, I think there will be increasing resistance to RFoG as people realize that they are not getting any additional performance with their $10,000 fiber connections.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
These standards are intended to give service providers — broadcasters, ISPs, cable operators or telecom service providers — control over their platforms and their offerings. Standards will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee quality of service, ensure interoperability and help players remain competitive.
Contained within the documents produced by the Focus Group are the high-level architecture and frameworks needed by service providers in order to rollout IPTV services. ITU’s next phase of IPTV work — IPTV-GSI (global standards initiative) — will centre on the preparation of standards based on documents produced by FG IPTV as well as on the detailed protocols required.
Twenty-one documents covering IPTV requirements, architecture, quality of service (QoS), security, digital rights management (DRM), unicast and multicast, protocols, metadata, middleware and home networks will be submitted to the ITU-T Study Group charged with progressing and distributing the work. The IPTV-GSI will build on the momentum generated over the past 20 months, and it is foreseen that contributions and participation will continue to increase.
The first meeting of IPTV-GSI will convene in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 15 to 22 January 2008.
IPTV standards are surely needed, but they will probably be too late to strongly influence the major IPTV deployments already underway in Europe, Asia, and North America. These IPTV services have made their implementation decisions and are not likely to change them in major ways to accommodate new standards.
It does appear that AVS will become a significant factor in the Chinese IPTV market. IPTV encoder, video on demand systems, and set-top box manufacturers should pay close attention to these developments.
Qwest is taking on a significant strategic risk by not going against its cable competitors head on. The cable companies can provide all of the services that Qwest's subscriber's want - voice, data, and video. Qwest will only be able to offer the first two. Its video offering will depend on reselling satellite services. This may not be strong enough.
Qwest has had long running IPTV trials in Phoenix and areas near Denver. It understands how to offer these services. It is also interesting that it is acquiring video licenses in cities such as Portland, Oregon, but will not use them. Strong success by ATT and Verizon could cause Qwest to change its strategy.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Vyyo stated that if the new spectrum that it makes available is used for IP based services such as IPTV, video on demand, and DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem services, that cable companies can support four TVs simultaneously watching HD on demand content as well as support VoIP and DOCSIS 3.0 100 Mbps data services for groups of 50 to 100 homes.
The cable companies introduced HFC to groups of about 500 homes and several of them are decreasing the size of these groups down to about 100 homes. The Vyyo system does not require a significant decrease in the size of these groups to provide services that should be competitive with ATT's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS services in the U.S. It appears that Vyyo's products go further in making the cable companies competitive with Telco IPTV services than other technologies such as switched digital and coarse wave division multiplexing.
There are three components to COMPASS:
- The user interface
- The recommendation engine
- The backend management console
The recommendation engine is the software that generates recommendations. Its recommendations will be based on popularity, recommendations, and user preferences as defined by past selections. The recommendation engine that Orca provides is based on research work funded in part by the Israeli government.
The backend management console permits the IPTV service provider to define how the selection process works. For example, the IPTV service provider can define:
- The relative importance of each type of recommendation type in the results. For example, the weighting of popularity, ratings, and user preference can be adjusted to favor one over the other to optimize the results for the service providers specific subscriber population.
- The IPTV service provider can include recommendations from premium packages that the viewer does not subscribe to to encourage up selling and increasing ARPUs.
I think that Orca is onto an important feature here. Identifying content and having interesting content presented to you without having to search for it will be a key to IPTV and other long tail services. It will be interesting to see how well Orca's efforts pan out.
- 79 percent say that advertising will become more performance based.
- 87 percent say that analytics will become more accurate and more critical to the business.
- 97 percent say that advertising relationships with customers will become more interactive.
- 52 percent of DVR users skip all ads and 36 percent skip most ads.
None of these results is surprising, but it is interesting to see them confirmed. The reports give some of the background behind these numbers.
The coverage of Orange's broadband network in the UK is about 40 percent compared to about 60 percent for other competitive carriers.
France Telecom is a leading TelcoTV service provider and has the technology well in hand. It appears that its broadband coverage and other network issues are causing it to delay its IPTV service introduction in the UK.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The purchase of Nasmedia is one of the steps Korea Telecom is taking to transform itself from a telecom operator into a media and entertainment company. It plans to provide tailored advertisements for new media outlets.
Korea Telecom believes that its IPTV subscribers will increase five fold to 1.5 million over the next 12 months and it will become a major source of advertising income.
Advertising is becoming a major emerging source of new revenues for mobile and IPTV services globally. This is a clear trend on a global basis.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The Netherlands is dominated by cable with more than 6 million of its 7 million homes subscribing to the service. The cable service costs 16 euros per month. There are about 1.2 million digital subscribers in The Netherlands.
KPN stated that it believes that it is a battle with cable for each home. It believes that by 2010, 70 percent of homes will choose either a telco or the cable company to provide all voice, data, and video services to the home.
Digital Terrestrial is becoming a significant factor in the Netherlands and accounted for over half of the conversions to digital television in 3Q07. KPN offers a digital terrestrial service for 6.95 euros per month for the first set-top box and 3 euros per month for additional set-top boxes. Its digitial terrestrial offering is generally intended for the TV sets in the home that are not connected to the cable service.
Both KPN and Versatel offer services competitive with cable at 14.95 euros per month. They also share the same football programming, which is produced and broadcast by Versatel and broadcast by KPN as well under license from Versatel.
The IPTV providers in The Netherlands have to overcome strong, established competition from cable providers. It is interesting that KPN and Versatel seem to be cooperating with each other to some degree to establish IPTV. I think this is a smart approach. The more that they can establish an IPTV brand in that country, the more business there will be for both of them.
- The Visionbox plan has no recurring monthly fees and provides access to Tele2's on demand services. This plan is targeted at cable subscribers that want access to Tele2's on demand sports and entertainment services.
- The Vision Silver plan is offered at 7.95 euros per month and includes 20 broadcast channels as well as its on demand sports and entertainment services. It also expects that this service will supplement cable services in the subscriber's home.
- The Vision Gold plan is offered at 14.95 euros per month and includes 41 broadcast channels as well as its on demand sports and entertainment services. It also includes the first six months of its football services for free. It expects that this service will be a replacement for cable services.
Tele2 has experienced strong growth with its broadband service recently. It had 6 percent broadband subscriber growth in 3Q07.
Tele2 has had good growth with its IPTV service that has been driven by a strong football offering. It is facing strong cable competition and will have to continue to develop creative approaches to the market to fuel further growth.
IPTV is offered by FastWeb, Telecom Italia, and Wind in Italy. Tiscali needs an IPTV offering in this market to remain competitive.
Tiscali UK will begin a major marketing campaign in January 2008. It currently has 2 million broadband subscribers and covers 55 percent of the market.
IPTV is becoming an important component of a broadband strategy in the UK. BT is now offering its BT Vision IPTV service and Orange is about to introduce its own IPTV service in the UK. It is important that Tiscali UK strengthen its IPTV offering to remain competitive.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
ATT is maintaining its forecast that the service will pass 17 million homes by then end of 2008, up from 5.5 million homes at the end of 3Q07. It announced a new goal of 30 million homes passed by the end of 2010. At this point the service would pass 50 percent of living units and 33 percent of businesses in 22 states. It expects the cost of home passed to be in the low $300's.
ATT plans to increase its maximum data speed with U-verse from 6 Mbps to 10 Mbps as well as support 4 HD channels and 2 VoIP lines with a total budget of 36.4 Mbps. This compares to today's budget of 21.4 Mbps with 1 HD and 3 SD channels, 6 Mbps of data, and 2 VoIP lines today. Both services will be available to 80 percent of the homes passed not including the former BellSouth territory. The 36.4 Mbps budget will require pair bonding while the 21.4 budget can be provided over a single pair. It expects to start offering a bonded service by 2H08.
ATT expects that the average installation time for the U-verse service will decrease from 6.4 hours today to 5.3 hours with experienced technicians. Its target is to bring this time under 5 hours. Its CPE cost per customer is about $550 today and is expected to drop to somewhere around $400 in 2010.
ATT plans to introduce TV ad insertion to its U-verse service in 2009.
ATT continues to make aggressive forecasts for its U-verse IPTV service. It will have to put in a lot of effort to pass 17 million homes by the end of 2008. To achieve this it will need to pass more than 750 thousand homes per month. To go from 17 million homes by the end of 2008 to 30 million by the end of 2010 will require a rate a bit higher than 525 thousand per month.
ATT's goal of 1 million U-verse subscribers by the end of 2008 seems doable if it does pass 17 million homes. That is a subscription rate of about 6 percent.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This is an interesting move for SureWest. There are about 1,000 small, independent telcos in the U.S., so there is plenty of opportunity for further consolidation. Surewest is a solidly managed company and should do well with this and possibly other acquisitions.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
This architecture is right in line with the report Networking Strategies for TelcoTV Services that we published a few months back. The conclusion in this report is that IPTV service providers will need to create a non blocking optical network rather than use an Ethernet or IP network to connect the regional headend to the OLTs in the serving central offices.
Few companies are stepping up to this requirement that is a direct result of the increasing amounts of personalization on on demand services that everybody expects to be part of the evolution of IPTV networks. It is good to see that Nokia Siemens is taking this seriously.
In response to my question it pointed out that PON based FTTH architectures also reduce carbon footprint. On the other hand, VDSL increases the carbon footprint of a network because of the large number of remote systems that must be deployed.
I guess this means that fiber is just good all around. This is one more reason to select fiber.
Wind will also offer the premium services Sky Italia with various options starting at 36 euros per month for a combination of basic, cinema, or sport channels and is now being offered with promotionpromotional price of 15 euros until the end of February 2008. Wind joins Telecom Italia (Alice TV) and Fastweb. with IPTV offering in Italy.
This is another example of how IPTV is becoming a basic requirement for broadband services in Europe. Wind appears competitive with Telecom Italia but has to do more work to catch up with FastWeb's well developed service.
AVS is intellectual property developed in China that enables local providers to save on patent fees required with foreign systems. China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and China Netcom have been working toward the commercial implementation of AVS standard. AVS IPTV commercial trials started in November 2006.
In 2006 ZTE won deals for IPTV projects at Beijing Telecom, Shanghai Telecom, and China Netcom. ZTE claims that it has over 50 percent share of China’s current IPTV product solutions market.
This is a significant win for ZTE. It shares virtually all of the IPTV systems business with UTStarcom in China. AVS support should give it a significant advantage in the Chnese market since the country has a major push under way to use as much local intellectual property as it can.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
However, the initial DOCSIS 3.0 deployment will increase speeds only in the downstream direction. It appearts that DOCSIS 3.0 equpment that supports higher speeds in the uupstream direction will not be available at that time.
This is a move that ATT will have to watch closely due to the limited bandwidth available from its VDSL approach. Verizon's fiber based FiOS network should be able to compete nicely with DOCSIS 3.0 without much difficulty.
The good news for ATT is that the initial deployment is limited in both scope and function. My guess is that Comcast will create a premium, higher priced service, based on DOCSIS 3.0. If Comcast follows such a conservative strategy, ATT will have some time to adjust its strategy to be competitive with this new cable technology.
Qwest's Portland video franchise goes into effect on January 1, 2008 after which Qwest will have 18 months to notify the city of when it plans to begin cable service.
Qwest's Portland video franchise goes into effect on January 1, 2008. At that point, Qwest will have 18 months to notify the city of when it plans to begin cable service, if at all.
This is a pretty tentative and slow rollout of IPTV services. Qwest seems to have made the decision that IPTV is not an important strategy. Frankly, I am skeptical that this will lead to an IPTV rollout of any significance.