Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ofcom UK Communications Report

Ofcom issued a 334 page Communications Report that discusses TV, Radio, Telecommunications, and convergence.

It has a lot of interesting information. Three points that stuck out were:
  • More than a quarter of consumers (27%) claimed to use a DVR at the end of Q1
    2009, equivalent to 7 million homes, according to Ofcom research. This rose to
    nearly a third of consumers (31%) in multichannel television homes. These figures
    are a little lower than those from operator and sales data, which suggest that nearly 9
    million DVRs had been sold in the UK at the end of Q1 2009.
  • High-definition television gained traction over the past 12 months, as new HD
    channels launched and more platforms developed their HD propositions. By the end
    of the first quarter of 2009, 2.3 million homes (9%) had reception equipment capable
    of accessing linear or on-demand HD content. Thirty-three per cent of UK homes
    claimed to have HD-ready television sets at the end of 2008, according to its
  • Online catch-up TV began to enter the mainstream in 2008, largely thanks to the
    growing popularity of the BBC iPlayer. Twenty-three per cent of households claim to
    watch programmes online, rising to 33% among 15-24s. But 10% of people aged 65+
    reported that someone in their household watched catch-up TV online.

We should all thank Ofcom for continuing to publish these comprehensive reports that shed light on important trends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Verizon Adds Internet Capabilities to FiOS TV

Verizon has added the ability to access certain Internet applications and websites on its FiOS TV IPTV service. It added what it calls its Widget Bazaar applications marketplace, located within FiOS TV's Interactive Media Guide, with free Facebook, Twitter and ESPN Fantasy Football Widgets.

With the Twitter Widget, FiOS TV subscribers can follow Tweets related specifically to the program, movie or sporting event they are watching. They also can select from a list of top topics to view Tweets associated with today's hottest topics and trends, search for specific Tweets, and create and save a favorite-topics list.

FiOS TV subscribers with Facebook accounts can log in to Facebook through the FiOS TV Widget to update their Facebook status with messages about what they're watching, view their own photos, and view their friends' photos and status updates.

The ESPN Fantasy Football Widget provides on-screen access to personalized ESPN Fantasy Football points and football statistics, including rosters, box scores, scoring leaders and player information. All the information is available, at no additional charge, for FiOS TV customers who are registered ESPN Fantasy Football players.

Verizon will add to the FiOS TV Widget Bazaar additional free and transactional applications developed by the company and others. It will publish its Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable open development. The open development platform will enable developers to publish applications to the more than 7 million interactive set-top devices in FiOS TV homes.

Later this month, customers who subscribe to the Home Media DVR service will be able to search and view on FiOS TV user generated online videos from video-sharing sites, Dailymotion, and Veoh. In addition, a new My Videos feature will let these subscribers view via FiOS TV personal videos stored on their PCs.

Verizon has put a page on its website that contains more information about these features.

This is a good start at providing access to Internet applications by Verizon. It is starting to make good use of the IP capabilities of its FiOS TV service. Verizon was able to move in this new direction because it now has taken over the development and maintenance of its middleware software. Other IPTV providers will follow Verizon's example.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Survey Shows Preference for FTTH

The U.S. FTTH Council has published a survey of U.S. broadband users that shows that there is a strong preference for FTTH over cable modem broadband services. DSL had the least favorable rating for broadband services. FTTH had an even stronger preference for HD TV over FTTH compared to satellite and cable services.

The survey is well worth reading. The results are no surprised but do underscore the technical superiority of FTTH technologies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ATT Enhances U-verse IPTV Service

ATT has introduced new features to its U-verse IPTV service to make it more competitive with cable and satellite companies:
  • The ability to set or delete recording as well as watch recorded programs from any of up to eight TVs in the home.
  • An increase of speed from 10 to 12 Mbps for those subscribed to this level of service.
  • A video on demand recommendation service based on the viewers ratings of past selections.
  • An improved interface for web connected PCs for controlling the recording function on the set-top box.
  • Improved navigation in using U-verse from the TV.

ATT is strongly promoting its remote DVR capability in its TV ads. It has found a unique feature that seems to be gaining traction.

Monday, June 15, 2009

U.S. Analog Sunset

I got through the conversion to all digital over the air TV in the U.S. over the weekend. As of Saturday morning all analog TV had ceased. Actually, there was one station that I could pick up here that still broadcast an analog signal - a text screen saying that you need a digital converter or a digital TV to receive service. All of the rest of the analog signals here went blank.

I live in San Francisco and stopped my cable service more than five years ago. I did not have a cable connection in the room where we moved the TV and did not want Comcast to hack up our 80 year old house any more than it had already.

We were well prepared for the digital conversion. We now have the HD/digital sets with good Terk indoor antennas that were already receiving over the air digital signals. We have gotten rid of our analog sets over the last year. We are now only left with a couple of radios with analog TV audio receivers that no longer work.

Everything went as scheduled. We seemed to lose one channel Friday evening. I guess it made its changes earlier than midnight. Many stations were reassigning their digital signals to new frequencies as part of the conversion.

Saturday morning we rescanned two of the TVs. We had some trouble getting all of the channels we had before. We had to reorient the antennas to a position and were able to find all of the channels we had before. We scanned the third set that afternoon. One set is not able to find the NBC outlet, but this was nothing new. This set has a more compact and less powerful Terk antenna, which has not been able to pick up this channel. The more sensitive set picked up a channel that we have not been able to receive before.

The only frustration with all of this is that the channel scanning is an all or nothing operation. Every time we scan channels, it clears all channels and adds those that it finds. This means that the antenna has to be positioned carefully to get them all. I would like to see an "add channel" function that keeps the channels that have already been found and adds any new ones that it finds. This would let me point the antenna in another direction and pick up the channels that it can find in that direction. I think I would be able to pick up more channels this way.

The U.S. analog sunset is a much easier transition than will be experienced in other countries. Only 10 to 15 percent of U.S. homes use over the air broadcasting as their only source for TV programming. The rest have cable or satellite subscription. A prominent survey said last week that only 2 million households were not prepared for the change. This is less than 2 percent of the total households in the U.S. Countries with a higher dependence on analog TV broadcasting will have a more difficult transition.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cisco Traffic Forecast

I have posted an article on Cisco's latest IP traffic forecast on my Telco 2020 blog. Cisco's forecast highlights the growing importance of video traffic on IP networks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cisco IPTV Video Delivery Test

Light Reading published an 18 screen article describing a test performed by EANTC of the ability of a Cisco infrastructure to deliver high quality IPTV service. The conclusion was that the Cisco network performed very well.

This is a very interesting effort. It does a good job of characterizing the performance of this network delivering broadcast/multicast service with a modest amount of video on demand. This are realistic assumptions for most of today's IPTV networks.

However, I am aware of IPTV networks that support network DVR services that are experiencing 80 percent penetration of video on demand services during peak periods. This puts the network into an entirely new dimension. It would have been much more interesting if such a heavy video on demand load was tested as well. This is where IPTV networks are going.

Friday, May 22, 2009

IPTV in Korea

Light Reading published an article discussing the status of Korea has made the transition from an on demand only service to a service that includes broadcast content. It on demand service now has 1.3 million subscribers and its broadcast service has grown to 222,600 subscribers in four months.

The country has made great progress even though there is confusion over whether its on demand service is a walled garden or an over the top, Internet service. Maybe Korea is far enough along that distinction is no longer important.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SingTel Adds 19K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

SingTel in Singapore added 19,000 IPTV subscribers in 1Q09 leaving it with a total of 78,000. It stated that this was the largest number of adds to its mioTV IPTV service.

SingTel continues to make progress but not has lit the market on fire the way PCCW did in Hong Kong.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Belgacom Adds 49K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Belgacom added 49,000 IPTV subscribers in 1Q09 giving it a total of 555,000 at the end of the quarter. Of these it added 5,000 homes with more than one IPTV set-top box leaving a total of 70,000. The ARPU for its TV service increased from 19.4 to 20.4 euros during the quarter. Its IPTV revenues remained flat during the quarter at 13 million euros. Belgacom said that its IPTV service is now EBITDA positive. It spent 27 million euros of capital on its IPTV service for set-top boxes, content, and infrastructure.

Belgacom continues to be successful in a very competitive Pay TV market. The Belgian cable companies fell behind Belgacom in services and technology and are now paying the price.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

BT Adds 45K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

BT added 45,000 IPTV subscribers to its BT Vision service leaving it with a total of 423,000 at the end of the quarter. It now has over 430,000 IPTV subscribers. It said that 90 percent of its new subscribers are taking a subscription and that its ARPU for the service has doubled.

BT is continuing to make progress in a competitive market. It appears that its strategy of riding on Freeview's coat tails is working well for it.

Telefonica Lost 7.7K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Telefonica lost 7,700 IPTV subscribers in Spain in 1Q09 leaving it with a total of 604,800. It did ad 13,300 IPTV subscribers in its O2 operation in the Czech Republic, ending the quarter with 127,800.

Spain seems to be a difficult IPTV market. Telefonica has clearly lost its momentum in its home market.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Telecom Italia Added 36K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Telecom Italia added 36,000 IPTV subscribers in 1Q09 giving it a total of 365,000 at the end of the quarter.

The pace of its IPTV subscriber additions slowed significantly from the rate that it achieved in 4Q08.

Telus has 100K IPTV Subscribers

Telus in Canada now has 100,000 IPTV subscribers. It offers 33 HD channels, personal video recorder capabilities with 60 hours of HD recording time, and HD video on demand. The company plans to launch a satellite TV service later in 2009.

Telus seems to be doing well with this service. The satellite TV service will enable it to offer TV service to the large rural areas that it covers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swisscom adds 21K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Swisscom added 21,000 Bluewin TV IPTV subscribers in 1Q09 giving 139,000 total subscribers.

Swisscom continues to make steady progress with its IPTV service.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Verizon Adds 299K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Verizon added 299,000 IPTV FiOS TV subscribers in 1Q09, leaving it with a total of 2.217 million. It also added 298,000 FiOS FTTH subscribers, giving it a total of 2.779 million at the end of the quarter.

Verizon continues to make strong progress. Its FiOS TV service is clearly an important part of its FiOS offering.

France Telecom Adds 354K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

France Telecom added 354,000 IPTV subscribers across all of its operations leaving it with a total of 2.463 million at the end of the quarter. In France it added 257,000 IPTV subscribers, leaving it with a total of 2.166 million. Its Pay TV subscriptions in France grew by 240,000 in France ending the quarter with 1.138 million.

France Telecom added 12,000 subscribers in Spain, giving it a total of 99,000. It added 85,000 in Poland ending the quarter with 198,000 subscribers.

France Telecom is continuing to do well. Its operation in Spain has even started to increase again.

Chunghwa Telecom Added 10K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Chunghwa Telecom added 10,000 IPTV subscribers in 1Q09, giving it 686,000 at the end of the quarter. It plans to strengthen its offering by repackaging and introducing premium content, with new marketing programs, and by introducing interactive capabilities.

This was a significant drop in new subscribers. I expect that the current economic crisis had a lot to do with it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Telia Adds 22K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

Telia Sonera added 22,000 IPTV subscribers across all of its operations in 1Q09, leaving with with a total of 509,000 at the end of the quarter. The country by country results were:
  • Sweden added 9,000 new subscribers, giving it a total of 333,000 at the end of the quarter.
  • Norway added no new IPTV subscribers and ended the quarter with 10,000.
  • Denmark added 1,000 new IPTV subscribers, ending the quarter with 2,000.
  • Lithuania added 14,000, giving it 81,000 and the end of 1Q09.
  • Estonia added 9,000 new IPTV subscribers, ending the quarter with 83,000.

Telia Sonera continued to have modest growth in its IPTV service.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ATT Adds 284K IPTV Subscribers in 1Q09

ATT added 284,000 IPTV subscribers in 1Q09, leaving it with a total of 1.329 million at the end of the quarter. Over the same period it added 359,000 broadband subscribers, giving it a total of 15.436 million.

ATT continues to make good progress in spite of the difficult financial environment. It will easily exceed 2 million IPTV subscribers by the end of 2009 if it maintains this rate. It now sees its IPTV service as a significant driver for its broadband business.

Cantv in Venezuela to invest $400M in IPTV

TV Latam has posted an article saying that state owned Cantv in Venezuela will spend $400M on its IPTV system to reach 1.26 million subscribers using a system provided by ZTE. During the first trial stage of the project, Cantv will offer its service to 67.090 users who will have access to 140 channels.

Venezuela is taking a democratic approach and plans to offer a mass market service. This is a huge win for ZTE.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PCCW Adds 26K IPTV Subscribers in 2H08

PCCW added 26,000 IPTV subscribers in 2H08 leaving it with a total of 953,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. This is consistent with its increase of 27,000 broadband subscribers over the same period, giving 1.302 M at the end of 2008. It also added 18,000 IPTV paying subscribers in 2H08, leaving it with 686,000 at the end of the year.

PCCW continues more than five years of growth with its IPTV service.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum Issues Phase 1 Specs

The ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum released five new standards establishing IPTV’s foundational framework.
  • IPTV Linear TV Service (ATIS-0800018), which establishes IPTV’s fundamental building blocks for expansion into more advanced services, including pay-per-view and next-generation gaming.
  • IPTVConsumer Domain Device Configuration Metadata (ATIS-0800022), which specifies the data structures (metadata) required to provide basic information needed to acquire IPTV content.
  • Media Formats and Protocols for IPTV Services (ATIS-0800013), which is a comprehensive listing of the protocols and media formats required for the implementation of IPTV-related services.
  • IPTV Terminal Metadata Specification (ATIS-0800029), which defines the data structure that facilitates the exchange of user-related data and the IPTV devices
  • Fault Codes for IPTV (ATIS-0800028), which includes a categorized listing of fault codes for IPTV functions and components.

These documents are available from the ATIS Document Store.

This is a good effort but it still seems like too little too late.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time Warner Backing Off Usage Caps

Light Reading has published an article that states that Time Warner has shelved plans to extend its trial of usage caps currently underway in Beaumont, Texas to Rochester, N.Y.; Greensboro, N.C.; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas. Take a look a my previous posting to get information on the Beaumont trial.

Apparently, Time Warner is bowing to public and political pressure. It continues to believe in usage caps and believes that it needs to better educate its users.

Personally, I think usage caps and usage charging will not be accepted and is a tool that Time Warner is using to quash competition from over the top Internet TV services.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

180Squared Introduces Microsoft Mediaroom for Small Telcos

180Squared has introduced "Mediaroom in a box" that prepackages Microsoft Mediaroom for small telcos. Previously, Mediaroom was targeted to large carriers who wanted to integrate it themselves. The 180Squared bundle includes:

  • Services
    o Full Architecture and Deployment Services for Mediaroom
    o B/OSS Integration Service
  • Software
    o 180SQUARED Framework B/OSS Package
     Global Operations Manager
     B/OSS Interfaces and Work Flow Engine
     Basic STB Management
    o Caller ID
    o Remote (Web) PVR
This looks like a useful adjunct to Microsoft's Mediaroom strategy that addresses Check Spellingthe needs of smaller operators. It will be interesting to see how it does compared to software packages built specifically for this market such as Nokia Siemens/Myrio, Minerva, and Dreampark.

Microsoft Adds NPVR to Mediaroom

Microsoft introduced the NPVR Mediaroom Anytime feature set, which provides the ability to:

  • Restart Anytime offers the ability for viewers to rewind or restart the currently airing program from any point.
  • Live Anytime allows viewers to scroll backward in the Interactive Program Guide to watch previously aired programs. These previously aired programs also can be made accessible through the service provider's video on demand library.
  • Download Anytime extends Microsoft Mediaroom-powered services to more consumers by enabling viewers to download on-demand movies and programs to their set-top boxes so they can watch them anytime regardless of bandwidth constraints. For example, viewers could watch high-definition programs on low-bandwidth networks.
In addition, Microsoft announced that the Mediaroom platform has reached nearly 2.5 million subscriber homes worldwide, an increase of more than 1.5 million new connections in the past year.

These NPVR functions are important IPTV services. They are very popular where they have been introduced in Europe and China. The U.S. providers are waiting to see the final results of the battle between Cablevision and the studios over this service.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

21K IPTV Subscribers in Latin America

TV Telco Latam published and article that states that Latin America recorded 21,495 IPTV clients in December 2008, which meant a 139% growth as compared to the same month in 2007.

Telco IPTV is just getting off the ground in Latin America. It faces major regulatory hurdles and strong cable and satellite competition.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Time Warner Modifying Usage Caps

Light Reading published an article describing how Time Warner is modifying its usage caps and another article listing the usage caps both Time Warner and ATT are offering in Beaumont, Texas. Time Warner is offering a higher tier that offers a higher usage cap.

These caps range from 5 GB per month to 150 GB per month.

It is always interesting to calculate how much HD TV viewing that these caps will permit. A cap of 10 GB permits less than 3 hours of HD viewing in the month. A cap of 100 GB permits less that 1 hour of HD viewing per day and a cap of 150 GB permits less that 1.5 hours per day.

Clearly these caps will discourage the use of the broadband service to deliver video to the TV. This is certainly a way that the telcos and the cable companies can keep their customers on their own TV services and away from over the top Internet TV services.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

ATT 3 Screen Masters Golf Tournament Coverage

ATT is providing coverage of the 2009 Masters Golf Tournament over its U-verse IPTV service, to the PC, and to mobile phones. Live content to all three screens includes:
  • Par 3 Contest, which featured a live feed from the contest on Wednesday, April 8.
  • Masters Extra, which gives AT&T viewers one hour of coverage before cable and network broadcast coverage begins.
  • Amen Corner Live, which features live coverage of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.
    15th/16th Live, which features live coverage of the 15th and 16th holes.
On demand coverage includes:
  • Masters Moments, featuring a series of 24 vignettes from past Tournaments available to U-Verse and PC viewers.
  • Multiple Player Interviews, offered daily via U-verse TV VOD, the PC, and mobile video.
  • Masters TV, including daily previews and recaps available via to the PC and mobile video.

This is a nice set of 3 screen programming. It does show the complexity of making this kind of offering. Consequently, compelling 3 screen programming will continue to be limited to these special events quite a while.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Belgacom Considering New IPTV Middleware

Light Reading published an article saying that Belgacom is considering replacing its Nokia Siemens middleware. Light Reading thinks that Microsoft is the leading contender. The other major vendors supporting Microsoft are Arris/C-Cor for video on demand, Amino for set-top boxes, and Verimatrix for content security.

The Nokia Siemens middleware came from its acquisition of Myrio. Myrio's middleware was originally designed for the small U.S. independent telcos.

This is an interesting situation. It does not appear that Nokia Siemens has made the investment in the Myrio middleware to allow it to scale to meet Belgacom's needs and to support the next generation of interactive applications.

Microsoft's Mediaroom is an obvious candidate. I expect that Alcatel-Lucent will use its strong relationship with Belgacom to push the MyView middleware that it acquired from Telefonica. Thomson's middleware that is used by France Telecom should be another strong candidate.

It will be bad news for Arris/C-Cor, Amino, and Verimatrix if Belgacom its replaces Nokia Siemens middleware.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Liberty Global Interview

Light Reading has published an interview with Liberty Global that discusses the advantages of cable over IPTV in the European context. It sees that DOCSIS 3.0 gives it a large advantage over ADSL technology along with its long experience delivering video content.

These are good points but IPTV is giving cable a real run for its money in countries such as France and Belgium. IPTV is in a much stronger position in Europe than it is in most parts of the U.S.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chunghwa Telecom Added 85K Subscribers in 4Q08

Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan added 85,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the quarter with 676,000 subscribers. It came quite close to meeting its revised target of 700,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. It reported that then number of subscribers to its Golden TV premium package grew from 12,804 at the end of 2007 to 117,822 at the end of 2008.

Chunghwa added 123.9 fiber subscribers giving it a total of 1,069,700 fiber subscribers at the end of 2008. It provides fibers services to 16,600 buildings, which it said represents 91 percent market share among all operators. The company expects that it will have more fiber than ADSL subscribers in 2011.

Chunghwa continues to make steady progress with both its IPTV and fiber services.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Impact of the Lack of IPTV Standards

Light Reading published an article describing the discussion at an IPTV World Forum panel discussion. The panelists said that the lack of IPTV standards is holding back investment in IPTV technology. They also said that there are tremendous opportunities for interactive advertising opportunities in IPTV if the industry would broadly support open standards.

This is an interesting perspective. The key is the middleware software, which is quite fragmented. Microsoft, Thomson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens, Cascade, and Minerva all have a significant share of this market. There is no commonality between them which has created a fragmented market. It is hard to see how a single market based on open standards will be created out of this. This may well be the Achilles heel that will cause over the to Internet delivered TV predominate in the end.

City Telecom at 170K IPTV Subscribers

City Telecom who operates the Hong Kong Broadband service ended February 2008 with 170,000 IPTV subscribers. This is an increase of 14,000 subscribers over the previous six months. It also had 350,000 broadband subscribers, and increase of 34,000 over the same period.

City Telecom is continuing to increase its IPTV base but still has a penetration rate less than 50 percent.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Global IPTV Subscribers Reaches 21.8M

The Broadband Forum made a press release based on numbers from Point Topic that stated that there were 21.8 million IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. This broke down by region as follows:

Region 2007 Q4 2008 Q4
Western Europe 7,045,860 10,388,000
North America 1,774,671 3,835,544
South & East Asia 1,840,000 3,615,000
Asia-Pacific 2,199,828 3,082,182
Eastern Europe 465,223 884,466
Latin America 8,991 21,495
Middle East & Africa 10,000 10,000
Global Total 13,344,573 21,836,687

These numbers show that IPTV subscribers have stopped doubling each year globally. The more mature markets are singing a significant fall off in growth rates.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alice Brings Free up to 3.3M IPTV-Capable Subscribers

Free released an analysis of its 2008 results that stated that it has 423,868 unbundled subscribers as part of the business that it acquired from Alice, France. All of these subscribers can get free IPTV channels as part of their broadband service, assuming that they have an appropriate set-top box. Adding these Alice unbundled subscribers to Free's 2.900,000 unbundled subscribers give the company a total of 3,323,868 unbundled subscribers.

All of the Free unbundled subscribers have a set-top box that can receive its IPTV service. Free recently made a similar set-top box available to its Alice subscribers.

It is always interesting counting IPTV subscribers for Free. I think it is fair to count all of Free's 2.9M unbundled subscribers. How to handle the Alice unbundled subscribers is less clear. Today, I would split the difference. In another couple of years, I would count all of them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

IPTV Services Highly Concentrated

I just completed a short analysis based on the 4Q08 results that I have gathered so far. I have identified over 700 carriers globally with some level of IPTV activity. About 340 are in North America with 180 in Europe and 100 in Asia.

I estimate that there are more than 20 million IPTV subscribers globally and five carriers have more than one million IPTV subscribers each:
  1. Free in France
  2. Verizon in the U.S.
  3. China Telecom
  4. France Telecom
  5. AT&T in the U.S.
These top 5 companies account for more than 40 percent of the total subscribers. The top 20 service providers account for 80 percent of the total and the top 50 account for 95 percent of the subscribers.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Swisscom Adds 23K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Swisscom added 23,000 new IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the year with 118,000. The company had $US 129M in IPTV revenue in 2008.

Swisscom had a good year with its IPTV service in a competitive IPTV market. Its new fiber deployment should enhance its position nicely.

Belgacom Adds 63K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Belgacom added 63,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, giving it a total of 506,000 at the end of 2008. It stated that it had a 30 percent share of the Pay TV market at the end of 2008. It now supports a second TV in the home using VDSL. There were 65,000 customers with a second TV at the end of the year. It IPTV ARPU grew to 17.2 euros during 2008 largely through the improved success of on demand services. Its total IPTV revenue grew to 86M euros in 2008.

Belgacom offers HD services using VDSL, which is available to 64 percent of the Belgian population. The ADSL-based IPTV service is available to 86 percent of the Belgian population.

Belgacom is making good progress and is showing how other operators in Europe can succeed in a cable-dominated market.

BBC Canvas to Compete with BT Vision IPTV

The BBC is considering its Canvas Project that will compete with BT's BT Vision IPTV service.

The BBC is seeking permission to form a new joint venture partnership with other broadcasters and Internet Service Providers to define and promote a set of standards for digital television delivered via broadband Internet connections (IPTV) as well as digital broadcasts via DSat and DTT.

Users would need to buy a new set top box or other device which takes its broadcast signal from an aerial, like Freeview, or from a satellite dish, like Freesat.

Canvas users would also require a broadband connection to take advantage of on-demand features. They would need to:
  • Subscribe to a broadband service which usually carries a monthly fee, or
  • Utilise their existing broadband connection. It is possible they may need to
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to a faster connection, or
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to one which allows greater volumes of data downloads
The BBC said that Canvas would help protect the competitiveness of free-to-air platforms (like Freeview) and allow audiences who do not wish to pay for subscription television services to access a range of on-demand and linear services.

It wishes to develop Canvas in conjunction with the planned launch of HD services on the DTT platform (Freeview). Subject to approval, Canvas would launch at some point in 2010.

This is an interesting approach by a broadcaster to utilize broadband to reach its audience in addition to its over the air broadcasting. It looks very much like BT Vision to me. I wonder how BT will survive with this kind of competition from the broadcaster. This is a model that could be exported to other countries and create a new competitor to the existing Pay TV outlets.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Deutsche Telekom Adds 20K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Deutsche Telekom reported that the number of Entertain IPTV lines activated climbed to around 353,000 by the end of 2008. The number of orders received up to this point in time were around 480,000. This was an increase in the number of IPTV subscribers of 20,000 in 4Q08.

It looks like Deutsche Telekom missed its goal of 500,000 IPTV subscribers by the end of 2008 by a large margin. The company seems to be struggling with creating a winning formula for the service.

Telecom Itallia Adds 111K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Telecom Italia added 111,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, giving a total of 329,000 at the end of 2008. It was able to achieve its objective of 300,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008. Its IPTV service has now achieved a penetration of 4.9 percent of its broadband customers.

Telecom had a great fourth quarter. Let's see if it can keep up the pace.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Telefonica Spain Adds 23K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Telefonica added 22,943 IPTV subscribers in Spain in 4Q08 ending the year with 612,494. The company stated that this gives it 14 percent of the pay TV market in Spain. Telefonica's O2 subsidiary in Czechoslovakia added 6,435 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the year with 114,496 subscribers.

Things have picked up a bit for Telefonica in 4Q08, which makes it one of the IPTV leaders in Europe.

Nielson Publishes 3 Screen Usage Statistics

The Nielson Company has issued its 4Q08 three screen video usage survey for the U.S. This survey shows TV viewing, time shifted TV viewing, Internet usage, Internet video viewing, and mobile TV viewing.

Regular TV viewing dominates in terms of the number of viewers as well as the amount of time spent viewing. The demographic breakdown shows that the age groups above 55 are the most avid viewers of regular TV. The age groups between 18 and 34 watches the most Internet videos. The age groups between 25 and 44 make the most use of mobile video.

This report shows that the new technologies are most used by younger people, but that traditional TV is still very strong. It will be interesting to see how these trends hold as this population ages. I think that these younger groups will continue to use these new technologies, but that there viewing habits will be similar to those of their parents today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Portugal Telecom Adds 101K TV Subscribers in 4Q08

Portugal Telecom added 101,000 Meo TV subscribers in 4Q08, ending the year with a total of 312,000. This includes both IPTV and satellite customers. Its Meo services offers 110 channels and 1,500 video on demand assets. The company stated that 45 percent of its IPTV customers have used video on demand are buying an average of 2.8 movies per month.

Portugal Telecom has included content from its Internet portal on the Meo TV platform, including news and geo-referenced information, such as traffic, weather and pharmacies onscreen The Meo set-top boxes are all HD ready, using MPEG4.

Portugal Telecom's TV success continues. It again added far more TV subscribers than broadband subscribers.

The company did not state how many IPTV subscribers it has. One of our readers said that IPTV accounts for about 2/3 of the total. This would give a bit more than 200,000 IPTV subscribers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cox Traffic Management Strategy

I have made a post on my Telco 2020 blog on Cox Cable's strategy for managing traffic on its broadband network. Its approach makes a lot more sense than the monthly usage caps that other operators are adopting.

FTC Report on Self Regulation of Interactive Advertising

I have posted an article on my Telco 2020 blog on a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on the effectiveness of self regulation for interactive advertising. The report outlines significant issues with self regulation. I think that we will need regulation in this area before long.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BT Adds 56K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

BT added 56,000 BT-Vision IPTV subscribers in 4Q08 giving it a total of 376,000 at the end of the year.

Subscriptions picked up a bit in the quarter. The market in the UK is quite competitive with a strong satellite service leading the pack. BT is facing a problem in delivering competitive HD services due to the relatively low speeds of its broadband services. It has not yet committed strongly to VDSL or FTTH architectures.

Free Up to 2.9 IPTV Capable Subscrbers

Free in France now had 2.9 million unbundled subscribers at the end of 2008, nearly all of who are capable of receiving IPTV programming on their Freebox gateway/set-top box. This is an increase of 534,000 from the end of 2007.

The company did not report on IPTV viewing. I believe that there are about another 150,000 IPTV subscribers that are part of its Alice France Telecom Italia acquisition. In my mind Free has more IPTV viewers than any other provider globally.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Telia Sonera Adds 27K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Telia Sonera added 27,000 subscribers across all of its operations in 4Q08, giving it a total of 477,000 at the end of 2008. The country by country results were:
  • Sweden added 4,000 new IPTV subscribers giving it a total of 324,000 at the end of the year.
  • Norway added no new IPTV subscribers and ended 2008 with 10,000.
  • Denmark added no new IPTV subscribers and ended 2008 with 1,000.
  • Lithuania added 19,000 new IPTV subscribers and ended the year with 67,000.
  • Estonia added 4,000 new IPTV subscribers and ended 2008 with 75,000.
Telia is continuing to experience slow growth in its IPTV services. Only Lithuania is showing strong growth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Singtel Adds 13K Subscribers in 4Q08

Singtel added 13,000 subscribers to its mio TV IPTV service in 4Q08, ending the year with 59,000 subscribers. The additions in the quarter were driven by promotions and by the mio Home bundle, which includes mio TV, fixed broadband, and a fixed line at a monthly fixed price. SingTel expanded its sports content during the quarter with broadcast rights secured for the Italian Serie A soccer matches.

Singtel got itself out of the doldrums that it experienced in the previous quarters of 2008. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Shanghai IPTV Service

Light Reading has published a video of an interview with BesTV, the joint venture between China Telecom and Shanghai Media that runs the IPTV service in Shanghai. It describes the services, including interactive services, that are available in Shanghai.

This interview discusses the advanced IPTV services that make Shanghai one of the most advanced IPTV offerings in the world. The U.S. and Europe is generally lagging behind Shanghai in terms of interactive TV services.

Monday, February 9, 2009

ATT to Slow U-verse Deployment

The latest DSL Prime email from Dave Burstein stated that ATT will reduce the number of new homes added to the U-verse foot print from 8 to 9 million in 2008 to 4 million per year through 2011.

This looks like a result of the current financial fiasco. ATT's U-verse has been quite successful, I wonder why the company is backing off now. Maybe because it is starting to understand the limits of its VDSL approach compared to Verizon's fiber-based approach.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Digital TV Delayed in the U.S.

The U.S. has delayed the analog sunset from February 16 to June 12. I have also written about this on my Telco 2020 blog.

This will not have much effect on the IPTV or even the Pay TV market in the U.S. Any increase in subscribers due to the analog sunset will be more than matched by losses due to the current recession.

IPTV Penetration in France Reaches 35%

The French telecom regulator ARCEP has posted a report (in French) that the penetration of IPTV services has reached 34.6% of the ADSL lines in the country. It stated that there were 5.643 million IPTV subscribers and 16.299 million ADSL subscribers at the end of the third quarter 2008.

The penetration of IPTV in France is one of the highest. Without rigorously checking, I think it is number two after Hong Kong.

Friday, January 30, 2009

UNE EPM of Columbia has 30K IPTV Subscribers

TV LATAM published an article that stated that UNE EPM in Medelin, Columbia has 30,000 IPTV subscribers. UNE plans to extend its service to Bogota and grow to 150,000 IPTV subscribers before the end of 2009.

TV LATAM said that this is the largest IPTV deployment in South America. There is significant potential in this continent for IPTV if the regulatory issues that exist in many companies are favorably resolved.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Charter Introduces 60 Mbps Cable Modem Service

Charter has introduce a 60 Mbps downstream DOCSIS3.0 cable modem service in St. Louis, Missouri. This service will be priced at $129 per month for its video customers.

This is a premium offering that goes well beyond what ATT can offer with U-verse. Not too many people can afford such a pricey package, so it is not a direct attack on U-verse. Charter will have to bring the price of the service down before it will make a real dent in ATT's success.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ATT Adds 264K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

ATT added 264,000 U-verse IPTV subscribers in 4Q08 ending the year with 1.045 million subscribers. The company achieved its goal of 1 million IPTV subscribers by the end of 2008. Its U-verse service now reaches 17 million homes.

ATT completed its rollout of its whole home DVR and two stream HD support by the end of 2008.

ATT made good progress and has established U-verse as a significant competitor in the U.S. pay TV market. It has stated that it will continue its investment in this service while it cuts CapeEx in other areas.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Verizon Adds 303K IPTV Subscribers in 4Q08

Verizon added 303,000 IPTV subscribers in 4Q08 leaving it with a total 1.918 million at the end of the year. This compared to the 282,000 FiOS Internet subscribers it added in the quarter, ending the year with 2.481 FiOS Internet subscribers. Its FiOS ARPU was more than $133 per month in the quarter.

Verizon had a good year, adding nearly 1 million IPTV subscribers in 2008. This shows the strength of its FTTH strategy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Deutsche Telekom Announces IPTV Winner

The PIN Project, entered by IPTV developer team Trenfield and Regner, was declared the winner of the Deutsche Telekom Interactive TV Award.

With the PIN Instant Information System, useful additional details to go with the program on the TV screen, such as links to further information or the recipe of the menu that is being prepared in a cookery show, can be downloaded and shown in an inconspicuous little pop-up window on the edge of the screen. Using the remote control, viewers can then, by simply pressing a button, send the information as an URL or a text message to their PC or mobile phone and access it later whenever they want. The Instant Information System delivers information directly and spontaneously. No film is interrupted and no viewer is pulled out of the entertainment. Viewers decide for themselves whether they want this extra information and can activate the PIN system as and when required.

As the winner of the Deutsche Telekom Interactive TV Award the Trenfield/Regner team can now look forward to a further €200,000 in award winner’s prize money.

This has been an interesting exercise. It will be interesting to see if any of the leading applications in this contest catch fire in the IPTV market.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Deutsche Telekom Plans for 1M IPTV Subscribers by the end of 2009

Reuters published an article that Deutsche Telekom plans to have 1 million IPTV subscribers at the end of 2009. The company reportedly had 500,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008.

I will be interested to see the official numbers for 2008. Apparently it achieved its goal for 2008, which was a real stretch.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Telekom Austria has 63.7K IPTV Subscribers

Telekom Austria ended 2008 with 63,700, which is up from 10,930 at the end of 2007.

Telekom Austria had a good year for IPTV in 2008.

FCC Questions Comcast VoIP

I have made a post on my Telecom 2020 blog that discusses a letter sent from the FCC to Comcast questioning its VoIP strategy. The FCC is questioning why Comcast's cable telephony service should be treated as an Internet VoIP service and be exempt from normal voice service fees. The FCC is concerned because Comcast's cable telephony service is not subject to Comcast's video traffic management system used on its cable modem service.

It will be interesting to see what happens with over the top Internet TV services, which will be subject to similar restrictions. If you read the FCC letter, you will see that watching a TV program at full resolution is likely to cause Comcast's traffic management to make the program unviewable after 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Microsoft Cable DOCSIS Deployment in China

The Guangzhou Digital Media Group will use Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV software to provide IPTV service over its cable system using DOCSIS cable modems. At the launch of the service, Guangzhou will provide HD content for broadcast, recorded, and on demand viewing along with NPVR services. It will also offer a range of interactive services:
  • Access to local news with information from government web sites displayed on TV.
  • Local sports and entertainment news lets viewers watch video clips, view pictures, vote on favorite shows and check text messages via the TV.
  • Local government e-mail service enables subscribers to view e-mails sent out by local government.
  • Information service allows subscribers to check their local social security information.
  • TV commerce permits customers to pay their phone bill or traffic tickets through the TV.
Guangzhou Digital Media Group, formerly Guangzhou Radio and Television Network Limited, is the largest cable TV operator in Guangzhou City. Guangzhou Digital Media has about 2.5 million cable TV subscribers, with about 1 million broadcasting digital TV subscribers.

This deployment shows another tool that the cable companies have to combat Telco IPTV services. The cable companies can offer IPTV services using cable modem technology. This approach makes a lot of sense with DOCSIS 3.0, which can offer 100 Mbps services.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Microsoft Mediaroom Advances

Microsoft has announced that it has added NPVR features and new applications to Mediaroom. It also stated that there are now 2.5 million IPTV subscribers served by Mediaroom.

Microsoft's NPVR feature called Mediaroom Anytime include:
  • Restart Anytime offers the ability to rewind or restart the currently airing program from any point.
  • Live Anytime allows viewers to scroll backward in the Interactive Program Guide to watch previously aired programs. These previously aired programs also can be made accessible through the service provider’s video on demand library.
  • Download Anytime enables viewers to download on-demand movies and programs to their set-top boxes so they can watch them anytime regardless of bandwidth constraints. For example, viewers could watch high-definition programs on low-bandwidth networks.
It also announced the following applications:
  • BBC Worldwide is demonstration application that allows fans to access and interact with content found on
  • Turner Sports and the PGA of America, together with ES3™, built an application that allows viewers to switch dynamically between camera feeds, watch golfing instructional videos and click from static to video advertisements.
  • The Associated Press red carpet events, built by ES3 and the AP, is a celebrity news application which features up-to-the-minute information, photos and video clips at the carpet events.
  • Live Capture of Photos and Video lets viewers upload photos and videos to the Microsoft Live Mesh cloud storage Web site and view their personal content via the TV.
  • Visual Voicemail lets TV users check their voice mail and play back messages, even at pitch-controlled, fast-forward speeds.
  • TV Dashboard, designed and created by ES3, shows local news and information that Mediaroom subscribers can access while watching TV.

These are all good features that move Mediaroom beyond the stage where it was duplicating cable TV services. They will provide good differentiation for service providers using Mediaroom.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is Pay TV Pricing Itself into a Corner

It has recently occurred to me that the Pay TV operators may have made their services too expensive. I have to confess that I have not used Pay TV services for the last 5 years. I have an older house without a functional coax plant and cancelled my Comcast service because I did not have a cable connection where I wanted to put my TV.

The last couple of years I have been watching digital terrestrial over the air stations. I am quite close to the transmission tower, so I get excellent reception with a good Terk indoor antenna. I just bought a new Vizio 42" HDTV and am very happy with it. It is better at pulling in a full range of stations than my older Sharp 32" set. The Vizio even has a functional electronic program guide that lets me see all of the programs in the next several hours on a channel by channel basis. It also has great HD reception and presentation. I can really see the difference with the 1080i broadcasts on the Vizio compared to the 720p broadcasts on my 32" set.

My only disappointment has with the over the air digital was when my local PBS station moved PBS Life and PBS Kids from San Francisco to San Jose, which is too far for me to receive. We had become hooked on both and would love to get them back. I am not a big sports fan, so I do not miss ESPN.

It would cost me between $60 and $90 per month for a good range of digital basic and premium programming. From what I can see, I don't think that what I would get from such a subscription is just not worth the price. I would subscribe to ATT's U-verse, because of my interest in IPTV, but ATT has given up on trying to offer it in San Francisco. The city would not accept the VDSL cabinets on its sidewalks. Frankly, I think the city is right. The boxes are just too big and wood impede pedestrian traffic. I see a lot of two wide baby strollers around that just would not be able to get by one of these boxes.

What intrigues me is bringing over the top Internet content to my TV. I can do that through Netflix, Amazon, and a number of other sites. The new Cisco home media devices that have just been introduced, among others, look like a great way to go. I am pulling in my belt this year to get through the tough economic times, so I will not do anything this year, but prices should go down and functionality should go up next year. We will see then.

Please make your comments. I would like to see if I am alone or not.

Cisco Connected Entertainment Products

I have made a post on my Telco 2020 blog about Cisco's announcement of a range of connected consumer entertainment products. It looks like these products will give Internet delivered content a big boost.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Motorola Launches IPTV Store Front

Motorola introduce an IPTV store front system for Microsoft's Mediaroom. Its Storefront 1.0 software enable to offer IPTV and Internet services along with physical goods. The system could support the sale of a video on film, the DVD of the same film, and ring tones associated with the movie.

This is the kind of capability that IPTV providers need to distinguish their services. The more these services become integrated with the Internet, the better.