Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Here comes IPTV...

Seems like everybody's getting into IPTV, from Microsoft to AOL, Alcatel-Lucent to Deutsche Telekom to China Netcom. But do consumers really want it?

Well, to know the answer, just look at the numbers from Gartner:

  • By 2010 the number of households with IPTV is forecast to reach 50 million from 3 million in 2005
  • revenues could rise even more sharply, to $13.4 billion from $399 million

IPTV Around the World

Servicec providers all over the world are are trying to figure out how to build a "Telco 2.0" that delivers TV, Phone and Internet services over broadband pipes.

On Dec. 4, Britain's BT Group launched its IPTV service, setting a target of signing up between 2 million and 3 million subscribers. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Swisscom , France Telecom, Korea's KT, and China Netcom are also in various stages of rolling out their own services.

It's not just the telcos that have a stake in this. Just about every major tech company wants a piece of the action. Alcatel-Lucent is joined by Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Cisco Systems as well as upstarts such as UTStarcom and China's Huawei. The rivalry is expected to help the market ramp up quickly.

IPTV relies on the same basic technology as streaming video over the Web except that the signals stay within the telco's network. If done right, IPTV shouldn't be all that different from the programs you're accustomed to viewing on cable or over the airwaves. Where IPTV has an advantage over standard broadcasts is its potentially limitless number of channels and instant, on-demand access to a vast library of content stored on a telco's servers.

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