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IPTV World Forum: Telcos Explain Strategies To Outfox Satellite

By | March 18, 2008

      [Satellite News – 3-18-08] With satellite-enabled services dominating the competition in a number of markets, telecommunications providers are searching for ways to gain competitive advantages and find a new generation of services which they hope will strike a chord with customers, according to telco executives at IPTV World Forum 2008 in London.
          Most of these executives believe the best way to overcome satellite is to serve as a one-stop shop for a range of services, including providing on-demand content as well as having content available on multiple devices.
          TV is “the differentiator” when competing in the triple player market, and KPN, a telco based in the Netherlands, already has altered its strategy in order to make the most out of the TV market, said Hugo Suidman, the company’s marketing manager for Interactive TV. KPN initially launched TV as a separate brand, but renamed the product Interactive TV and bundled the service  with broadband in order to make it more attractive to customers, because “people have difficulties understanding the benefits of IPTV,” he said.
          Suidman believes the best way to attract customers is through demonstrations in retail outlets. “This is not a market where customers run into stores,” he said. “Our shops have huge televisions. We have interactive demonstrations. You have to show people in order to get to customers to relate to the product. You have to sell in every possible way. We want to offer challenging multiplay offers.”
          While France Telecom works with satellite operators, it also is looking to take business away from its satellite pay-TV rivals and is challenging the operators, which uses its Orange brand in France and other countries to provide compelling multiplay offers to customers.
          "Consumers are increasingly demanding instant access to digital media through multiple terminals,” said Jakub Brzeczkowski, France Telecom’s TV/video-on-demand director, content division, EEMEA.             "Communications devices are becoming entertainment devices and vice versa. Fixed and mobile broadband is providing speedier and more reliable access to digital media. [We are seeing] fragmentation of media and traditional business models are being challenged.”
          FT already has more than 1 million IPTV customers in France and has seen more than 10 percent increases in its subscriber base for four straight quarters. “Our strategy is content everywhere,” said Brzeczkowski. “We want to replicate the content experience on different devices. We are looking at cross-platform content availability. We think we have a competitive advantage in terms of easiness of connection versus satellite and cable.”
          In the United Kingdom, Tiscali is looking to make an impact in a pay-TV market dominated by BSkyB. Tiscali, which has more than 2 million broadband subscribers, is banking on a comprehensive on-demand service as one of the ways to compete against pay-TV rivals.
          “TV is now different,” said Jonathan Sykes, Tiscali’s managing director, content strategy. “It is changing and we are really at the beginning. The amount of content available to subscribers can be more bewildering than helpful. We are seeing [direct-to-home] operators developing hybrid strategies. You have Internet companies such as Joost, Hulu and Google who are aggregating content outside of broadcasters. The pay-TV world is changing.”
          With operators search for new ways to attract customers, the heat is on technology vendors to come up with solutions so telcos can make good on these ambitious plans.
          “We are making the journey from basic IPTV to what we call hyperconnected video,” said David Holt, leader of video solutions at Nortel EMEA. “The next thrust is quite a major change. We are talking about converged applications, connecting many devices and many people. Right now, IPTV is at the beginning. IPTV is about creating a better TV experience. We are starting to add features like enhanced communications, personalization, IPTV on PC, for example. In terms of content, there will be targeted advertising. We want to blend communication and entertainment services. We are building an environment where people can develop different interfaces. We are starting to give freedom to develop new services. We need to get innovation back into the telcos.”

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