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December 26, 2007

IPTV Solutions Provider BitBand offers its Predictions for 2008


By Patrick Barnard
TMCnet Assignment Editor


IPTV solutions provider BitBand recently released its predictions for 2008. Among the key trends the company expects to see over the next 12 months is the emergence of Eastern Europe as a major new market for IPTV (News - Alert) services, increasing consumer demand for on-demand video services, increasing user-generated video content on the Web, and the continued fusion of television and the Internet.


First on the list, the company predicts that Eastern Europe will become an emerging market for IPTV over the next year, due mainly to the fact that service providers there will be making substantial investment in their networks. Businesses in the region will try to follow the lead of those in Western Europe, which have migrated to all-IP networks and are using them to create efficiencies and find new revenue streams. In order to stay competitive, organizations throughout Eastern Europe will have little choice but to embrace IP network technologies, including VoIP, Unified Communications (News - Alert) and IPTV. There is also growing demand for IPTV on the consumer side as well, and a number of service providers are planning on rolling out new networks in the region over the next year. According to BitBand, many of the region’s existing operators will skip upgrading their legacy networks and instead will build all new IP networks from the ground up as they prepare to roll out triple and quad-play services.

BitBand also predicts that HDTV will move into the “mainstream,” as more and more service providers introduce high definition programming (this includes the major television networks in the U.S., many of which are already broadcasting HDTV programming over the airwaves). As this occurs, subscribers will put increasing pressure on service providers to deliver the highest level of subscriber quality of experience (QOE). In other words, as more and more consumers see HDTV programming first hand, and acquire the taste, if you will, for high quality video, they will become more demanding. This will only increase the pressure on the service providers, who are already finding that delivering video signals on a “best efforts” basis simply doesn’t cut it – that they must guarantee quality for their subscribers.

BitBand also predicts a strong up-tick in home networking in 2008. As customer premises equipment becomes more sophisticated, it will enable homeowners to link together a variety of devices around the home and control them from one single access point, via the Set Top Box. “Through a combination of the service provider and home networks, a small server residing in the house will provide content services to a variety of devices within or around the premises, over a variety of wired and wireless networks,” BitBand stated in a press release outlining its predictions last week.

Consumers will also come to demand more and more content – particularly short, easy-to-digest content which doesn’t take a lot of time (or thought) to consume. That means service providers will be challenged to make all kinds of content available to their subscribers and the diversity of content could end up being a key differentiator (in many regards, it’s a situation where he with the most content, and the highest quality content, wins the game). In addition, service providers will roll out intuitive and simple methods for accessing this content, which will make it faster and easier for users to find the content they want.

BitBand also predicts that service providers will be concentrating more on delivering their content and services via multiple viewing platforms, so that consumers can have the flexibility of watching their programming on the device of their choice. “Users' viewing experiences should be automatically adapted for the different devices and networks so that the best experience on each device is guaranteed,” the press release from BitBand states. “Remaining issues to be resolved include the size of video data and content rights.”

BitBand also predicts that the industry will see an influx of new entrants in 2008, as more alternative service providers begin offering IPTV services. Traditional telcos -- including many of the smaller phone companies -- will continue to get in on the IPTV game. This will help further open up the market and drive growth and competition. Many of these smaller players will have no choice but to roll out IPTV services over the few years, if they are to remain competitive.

On the wings of YouTube (News - Alert) and a variety of other Web-based video services, user-generated, or “personalized” content will also continue to proliferate in 2008. TV "of the people, for the people" will continue to grow in popularity, as users will soon be able to incorporate their own personalized content as part of their traditional TV experience.

Despite concerns about net neutrality and a possible general lack of network bandwidth over the next few years, due the rapid emergence of bandwidth-intensive services such as VoIP and IPTV, BitBand predicts that TV and the Internet “will continue to merge.” The company predicts that the “drive to turn the TV into an Internet-capable device is likely to continue” despite the failure of prior attempts, and recent warnings about network capacity. “The key drivers to success are simplicity of access and emphasis on the group experience of TV consumption,” the company states.

Not surprisingly, BitBand predicts that advertising will become more important than ever to IPTV service providers in 2008, as this is what will drive future revenue for practically the entire industry. This includes an increase in “targeted advertising” -- TV ads which are specifically targeted at the user (or users), based on their viewing (or even past purchasing) habits and other “customer data.” Much the same way local businesses can advertise on local networks on cable, and deliver their ads to an audience in their immediate area, IPTV service providers will be able to deliver advertising which is targeted to the individual user -- this facilitated by the fact that now every STB or device a user owns can have its own IP address on the network. This, in turn, will further “personalize” the viewing experience for the user -- plus its offers providers potential new revenue streams and improved subscriber retention.

BitBand also predicts that consumers will continue to migrate from linear to non-linear TV (TV On-Demand) in 2008. As subscribers’ lives get more and more time crunched, it will be hard for many of them to watch the programs they want to watch when they’re aired live -- so many are turning to Video-on-Demand (and DVRs) so they can watch the programming they want to watch, when they have time to watch it..

Last but certainly not least, BitBand sees the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as potentially being “the dominant driver for IPTV expansion and adoption across China.”

“Beijing's efforts to leverage this event for the world stage, coupled with the desire of service providers across the globe to deliver Olympic events to subscribers in all forms and on all devices, will prompt service innovation, technology development and regulation flexibility, speeding up the pace of change and stimulating even more progress in the IPTV space,” the press release from BitBand states.

BitBand's advanced content delivery solutions enable service providers to roll out IPTV services in new markets quickly. The company's solutions are targeted at large-scale deployments of TV-centric residential subscribers and feature high-scale streaming and robust performance optimized for hybrid and distributed network architectures. BitBand claims its On Demand IPTV solutions -- including the BitBand ISIS automated Video Delivery Network, BitBand Maestro Content Distribution and Video Network Management Suite and BitBand Vision appliance servers -- form “the most scalable and cost-effective solution existing today for the IPTV environment.” The company’s technology is currently in use in more than 40 commercial IPTV deployments worldwide, including such pioneering IPTV deployments as Tele2 in Holland, ON Telecoms in Greece, FASTWEB in Italy and Connexion in the U.S. BitBand partners with system integrators and suppliers of other components in the IPTV value chain to provide operators with a complete end-to-end solution.

For more information about BitBand visit www.bitband.com.

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