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IPTV World Forum

by User Not Found | Mar 05, 2007

We're attending this leading IPTV event at London's Olympia today. The conference kicked off with presentations from Orange and the BBC, amongst others. Orange's Eric Abensur suggested that quadruple play services are already gaining a significant foothold across Europe, with 16% of homes now "equipped" to receive such services. He also emphasised Orange's view that it is necessary for any operator to "control the mobile and broadband infrastructure in order to control the customer experience". This suggests a disregard of competition from any web-based service such as Joost (see here). Indeed, Mr Abensur seemed bemused by an audience question on the threat from Joost - it was not clear if he had heard of the service or whether there was something lost in the question - but in any case he dismissed the idea that Joost and similar services are a real challenge to managed IPTV services, arguing that they had no clear revenue model and that TV ultimately always has to be paid for. I suspect he may need to read up on what Joost and others are planning... The BBC's Ashley Highfield as always gave an interesting perspective from the UK's leading public service broadcaster. It contrasted with Orange's approach in discussing IPTV as a web-delivered service that should not be targeted to compete directly with the UK's existing digital TV services from Sky and Virgin Media. Instead, IPTV should be seen as changing TV by offering improvements in engagement, amplification, distribution, discovery, innovation and navigation. The BBC's iPlayer is of course the foundation of the BBC's strategy in IPTV. The BBC is still learning how its users want to search the vast archives of TV and video content that may one day become available, but it believes that the discovery element of IPTV is likely to prove one of its critical USPs. Mr Highfield also touched on the controversy over the BBC's choice of Microsoft's Windows DRM platform. He suggested that they would be "happy to work with Apple if they supported time-based DRM". The BBC sees it as critical that its solution can support 7-day online access to broadcast programming that is now a standard part of its rights contracts. We also look forward to hearing more about the BBC's plans for a hybrid DTT/IP set-top box. As I suggested recently, this is a further sign that the DTT platform in the UK is fragmenting, and I hope to hear more from Ofcom on this subject at this afternoon's DTG meeting.
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