European IPTV




          Special supplement
                          SPONSORED BY


www.cable-satellite.com
SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS


                                                                               European IPTV




   ...
SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS

European IPTV




Get ready – here comes IPTV
Introduction by George Stromeyer, vice president and ma...
SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS

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SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS

European IPTV




further modest IPTV roll-outs over the next 12-18 months.          So-called Local ...
SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS

                                                                                                    E...
SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS

European IPTV




set-top box requirements. He argues          Gracyzk terms ‘connected
that nobody s...
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European IPTV




  New 2005 IPTV Euro-deployments                                                   ...
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European IPTV




Next-generation DSL
D
        igital video over DSL presents carriers with the chan...
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European IPTV




Content on Demand
drives IPTV forwards
B
       roadband telecoms carriers         ...
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European IPTV




subscribers with a list of broadcast TV       well as national sports programming. ...
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European IPTV



stopped watching, the programme is dropped from the local         (downstream-heavy)...
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European IPTV



broadcast TV line-up (over 60 channels)      encoding means content can be          ...
European IPTV
European IPTV
European IPTV
European IPTV
European IPTV
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European IPTV

  1. 1. European IPTV Special supplement SPONSORED BY www.cable-satellite.com
  2. 2. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Cable & Satellite International is audited by BPA Reports: This Cable & Satellite International supplement outlines the progress of European IPTV and addresses the challenges incumbent and new- Editor entrant telcos face when rolling out TV services, especially advanced John Moulding offerings that include multi-room TV and HDTV. It covers next- r Advertising Manager generation DSL network technology, advanced encoding, home Justin Lebbon networking, VOD, time-shift TV and telecoms/television convergence s in the home. We take a close look at one of the world’s most Design and Production ambitious IPTV deployments at SBC Communications in the US, and Matt Mills (Manager) report on how the cable industry is responding to the threat of Matleena Lilja switched, all-IP video networks. I hope you find it useful. I Jason Tucker John Moulding, editor Contributors (supplement) Philip Hunter, Chris Forrester, Steve Hawley 4 Modest progress for European IPTV IPTV is making modest progress in Europe but the real challenges Circulation and opportunities still lay ahead. With the majority of European Sarah Wilson (Manager) homes yet to go digital, there is much to play for in the TV stakes, Joel Whitefoot but cable operators are gearing up for a triple-play war. They could also fight back with IPTV of their own. Chris Forrester reports Accounts Marilou Tate Lynta Kamaray 11 Next-generation DSL IPTV providers will have to deliver multiple simultaneous streams of Editorial 4 TV to the home, including at least one HD channel, to compete. tel +44 (0)20 7426 0424 Philip Hunter looks at how ADSL2+, VDSL and FTTH can cope with john.moulding@perspective the challenge, especially using advanced codecs publishing.com 15 Content on Demand drives IPTV Advertising European IPTV operators are leading the way in network-DVR tel +44 (0)20 7426 0101 services, helping to differentiate themselves from their Pay TV rivals. fax +44 (0)20 7426 0425 Steve Hawley reports on how on-demand is at the heart of TV over justin@cable-satellite.com fibre and DSL Subscriptions 18 The cable response tel +44 (0)20 7426 0636 The cable industry has noted the benefits of switched video. It fax +44 (0)20 7426 0123 already uses the technology for VOD and leading operators are sarah.wilson@ 18 expanding the concept to broadcast TV, delivering less popular perspectivepublishing.com channels on request rather than as part of the permanent broadcast line-up. Cable operators are confident that switched video over HFC Subscription rates offers the best of all worlds Per year: Europe £88; UK £68; Rest of World £98. Cheques payable to Perspective Publishing 20 ‘Me too’ telco TV not enough Limited and addressed to the Telcos hope they can exploit IP to fuse voice, data and television and Circulation Department create a more compelling consumer experience. IPTV will need to be good; most customers must be poached from cable or satellite Printed by Mansons, St. Albans 22 Advanced encoding the key IPTV operators offering one channel of TV per home on new DSL networks with short loop lengths can operate with MPEG-2. But on 402 The Fruit & 20 older networks, or even advanced networks with multi-room services Wool Exchange, or HDTV, the future is AVC or VC-1 Brushfield Street, London, 24 The home network dilemma E1 6EP, United Home networking can have a real impact on the cost and uptake Kingdom rates of IPTV so there is much debate around the best technologies to use and whether self-installation is a good idea Perspective Publishing www.perspectivepublishing.com 26 The heavyweight challenger SBC Communications will launch U-verse TV in limited markets Managing Director during the next six months and will make the broadcast/on-demand John Woods IPTV service available to 18 million homes by 2008. With a state-of- Publishing Director the-art fibre/VDSL2 network, the company could be a bellwether for Mark Evans 26 IP television in the US ISSN 1467 5935 Supplement Contents page two www.cable-satellite.com
  3. 3. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Get ready – here comes IPTV Introduction by George Stromeyer, vice president and managing director, Scientific-Atlanta Europe I t seems that Internet Protocol want advances in video service that communication services, service Television, or IPTV, is on are similar to those they’ve enjoyed providers will have the chance to everyone’s mind. It’s hard to in voice and data services. They move revenue-generating businesses pick up an industry publication, look want choice of content, time from traditional print, magnetic at technology news on the Internet independence for viewing it, storage or independent electronic or chat with colleagues at a trade portability of the content and “on media distribution methods onto show without reading, seeing or the go” access like other services. their networks. This represents a hearing something about IPTV. IPTV offers some unique advantages huge opportunity. With all the interest in IPTV, it’s to address these fundamental So what will it take for success? important to remember what it is changes. The commonality and The trends are in place and enough and is not. It is not TV that is ubiquity of any information on IP industry players have recognised George Stromeyer, vice them to take action. Content players, president and managing delivered via the public Internet. brings some inherent advantages in director, Scientific- service providers and technology Atlanta Europe Even though the “IP” stands for producing, scaling and delivering any Internet Protocol, you won’t log onto kind of content. suppliers are placing their bets on a favourite Web page to view The final trend is the increasing new business models which will television programming. IPTV is a competition of service providers for use IPTV to create value. Some of method of delivery for video delivery of voice, data and video those bets will play out but only services using a secure, highly services, or better yet, to “own the after persistent experimentation at managed network to provide an digital home.” Ongoing industry the creative, technical and exciting, versatile entertainment consolidation, regulatory changes commercial levels. experience. There are other existing and cross-service attacks on the At Scientific-Atlanta, we have used ways of delivering entertainment traditional turfs of other providers our decades of experience in video to consumers today, so increase the importance of the new developing and commercialising you may ask, “What's new? Why tools for video delivery in a new era integrated video networks to identify IPTV now?”. of competition. And I should several initiatives we are pursuing The rising interest in IPTV is emphasise here that IPTV is not just with our customers. These include driven by three very broad industry about telcos offering video. IPTV is new encoders for highly compressed trends. The first is very significant an enabling technology that can and standard-definition and high- technology disruptions that are will be used by cable operators and definition programming, a highly taking place. One is advanced other service providers. managed headend and network encoding, such as MPEG-4 Part 10. IPTV should ultimately allow solution that employs Network This video compression technology service providers to more easily Management Systems (NMS) to allows bandwidth-limited operators, pursue two real game-changing maximise reliability and flexibility, as such as telcos, to offer video over opportunities. The first is developing well as a complete family of set-tops existing plants. Another example is “cross platform services” which and DVRs to deliver these services switched digital technology which move applications across the to consumers in an attractive, cost- allows service providers and viewers traditional voice, data and video effective manner. As a company, we to selectively provide or call up categories. Whether this is caller ID are extremely excited by these new video without clogging networks on the television, remote DVR opportunities, and that excitement is with unwatched content. And finally, management from a cell phone or reflected by our customers. advances in last mile DSL managing your video library from One element to help ensure technology with twisted pair bit rates your PC, they create value by success for IPTV is encouraging up to 25Mbps or more make it enhancing existing services. The cross-industry communication on the possible to deliver good quality IPTV second opportunity is moving non- new ideas and initiatives that are services, including HDTV. network delivered services onto the underway. We hope we can do our The second important industry network with a differentiable edge. part by sharing the following articles trend is fundamental changes in As you look across the spectrum of with you. consumer behaviour. Consumers entertainment, information and We look forward to success! Introduction Supplement page three www.cable-satellite.com
  4. 4. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Modest progress for European IP television IPTV, including video over DSL and fibre, is making modest progress in Europe but the real challenges and opportunities still lay ahead. With the majority of European homes yet to go digital, there is much to play for in the TV stakes, but cable operators are gearing up for a triple-play war. They could also fight back with IPTV of their own. Chris Forrester reports A ccording to a recent study per cent of these connections will be IDC's European Telecoms and (Western European Broadband provided to the residential market – Networking team: “Broadband is no Access Market Analysis, 2004- providing the kind of footprint needed longer just about high-speed Internet 2009, IDC) Europe will continue its to make widespread IPTV services access, as it has evolved into an enabler enthusiastic and rapid adoption of a possibility. of a wide bouquet of IP-based services. broadband. By 2009, 46 per cent of Incumbent and new entry telcos have Although Internet access will remain Western European households will have seen the potential for digital video the most important application for the broadband access, compared to 20 per services. Often threatened by cable short to medium term, services like cent at the end of 2004. That figure operators targeting broadband Internet voice over broadband and IPTV are also amounts to 92 million broadband and, increasingly, residential voice destined to become cornerstones of connections near the end of markets, telecoms operators are successful broadband strategies." the decade, up from 40 looking to provide bundles of services to Here’s another view, from Romain million last year. attract new customers and – more Bausch, president of satellite operator Eighty three importantly perhaps - retain the ones SES Global, speaking in August about they have. There is going to be future growth opportunities for SES. increasing competition for bundled “We expect [to sign] more contracts triple-play services and broadcast during 2006,” he stated, “especially in television and on-demand video will the IPTV area. IPTV - that is, the delivery be at the heart of it. of TV over broadband terrestrial According to Jan Hein networks - is growing. We are starting Bakkers, senior our efforts with SES Americom, and analyst with positioning ourselves in order to participate in [this emerging sector].” Bausch added that the buoyant state of the interactive TV side of the video business was one of the reasons behind buying Digital Playout Centre, near Munich in Germany (now renamed Astra Platform Services). Most recently, in August, Dr Abe Peled, president of Conditional Access specialist NDS, said he expected Supplement European IPTV page four www.cable-satellite.com
  5. 5. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV further modest IPTV roll-outs over the next 12-18 months. So-called Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) has opened the door to But by 2007 he is expecting to see considerable progress in rival operators who have used their access to lines to launch IPTV-based systems, especially in North America and Eastern not just high-speed Internet services but video-over-DSL too. Europe as smaller players climb onto the bandwagon. “IP will Market analyst Screen Digest says that by 2004 in Europe, the be more important in 2007 and beyond,” he told analysts. incumbent’s share of DSL connections had fallen from 96 per SES (satellite video distribution) and NDS (content security) cent (in 1999) to 84.4 per cent, and their prediction is that this provide the foundation stones for any video network and their share will be further eroded to 73.8 per cent by 2010. optimism is shared by vendors supplying everything from TV- In the UK and Spain, the established telco incumbents still centric middleware to video headend equipment, all of whom have a firm grip on their broadband access markets. BT’s are actively targeting the IPTV market now. overall share (including wholesale) is still in the high 90s per The fact is that most of Europe has yet to adopt digital cent and will still remain above the European average in 2009 television, and the switch from analogue to digital TV is a despite recent retail offerings from AOL, Wanadoo, Tiscali, disruptive process that can lead consumers to consider new Video Networks, EasyNet and Bulldog (among others). suppliers – or try Pay TV for the first time. In contrast, France is one of Europe’s most accessible Informa Telecoms has examined how European users will markets and France Telecom has seen its broadband market consume TV during the rest of this decade and its study share fall from just over 90 per cent in 2003 to 75 per cent last predicts that digital penetration will hit 50 per cent in year. France Telecom’s share is expected to fall to below 65 per Western Europe by 2008. By the end of 2010, 65 per cent of cent by 2009. Screen Digest says that it expects Europe’s West European homes will be watching digital TV. That figure average DSL market share (for incumbent telcos) to fall is made up of 26 per cent of all homes taking digital cable, 20 below 75 per cent. per cent watching via direct-to-home satellite and 13 per cent It is no coincidence that France is one of the most vibrant through DTT (digital terrestrial television). The other six per European markets for IPTV today with CanalSat and TPS cent of digital homes will be accessing IPTV. content already available via France Telecom’s MaLigne video- The study shows the scale of the challenge facing IPTV over-DSL service, Free.fr and Neuf Telecom. An aggressive operators, but even at 65 per cent digital penetration, there is IPTV trial was also announced recently in the country for plenty of growth potential for any digital offering. T-Online’s ‘Club Internet’ customers, using DSL “Rapid advances in DSL penetration have led to a good deal and Microsoft TV’s operating system. No start of activity in the area of IPTV,” says the Informa Telecoms date has been given and, while T-Online study. “There have already been some high-profile launches is promising VOD, PVR and in this area, and with others to come in the second half of telephony, and hinting at multi- 2005 and in 2006, this is expected to be a fast growth sector channel TV, no in coming years, though the operators will have to counter commitments have entrenched opposition from the established cable and been given. satellite areas.” Generally, it is Europe’s older-established telcos that are behind much of the progress in IP-based television. These operators are betting the farm that these new services represent attractive new business opportunities, and that they will help compensate for the fall in prices of basic broadband Internet access and decreasing traditional voice-based revenue streams. The competition for incumbent telcos is not just from cable operators. Most industry observers suggest that in Europe a prime motivator for the development of IPTV has been the – sometimes forced – deregulation of last mile access to homes. European IPTV Supplement page five www.cable-satellite.com
  6. 6. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Scandinavia is probably Europe’s most service (HomeChoice) with a pan- initially targeting new housing active IPTV market, in particular London footprint and 15,000 developments in the Dublin area. Sweden, where both ViaSat and Canal subscribers at the last count. The Ingvar Gardarsson, CEO at Magnet, Digital have supplied their content to company has just secured a further £45 says he expects some 90 per cent of his broadband users over recent months. million to fund its rollout across London, target homes to sign up to an IPTV ViaSat is feeding Bredbands-bolaget’s the cash coming from one of the system offering broadband, multi- fibre-to-the-home system to some company’s founding shareholders, Chris channel video, music, games and even 300,000 homes, of which 2,300 had Larson, reportedly after negotiations video telephony. Orca Interactive signed up as of March 31. Canal Digital is with private-equity firms. (RiGHTv interactive TV applications) and available on nine FTTH networks across And BT, the UK’s incumbent telecom BitBand Networks (VOD) are among the Sweden, reaching some 66,000 operator, will launch its long-awaited key technology suppliers. households. TeliaSonera, the Swedish broadband video service next summer, Despite the opportunities available in telco incumbent, started offering Pay TV which will include broadcast TV (although the TV market, incumbents and new over ADSL to 15 cities in January. A some on-the-record quotes out of BT entrants alike will be aware of the fourth player, also wholly-IP, is FastTV, have suggested it could begin as warning contained in IDC’s Western part of the Bonnier Media group. video/television on-demand only). Set-top European Broadband Access Market Italy is also steaming ahead in IP boxes are expected to retail at around Analysis, 2004-2009 study. This stated television, with soccer content the key £70 (Eu100) with PVR functionality that operators need to be careful that driver. Italy has almost no traditional included. Like most telcos offering new the content bundling opportunity does cable operators but E.Biscom’s FastWeb IPTV services, BT will use advanced not turn into a bundling challenge, service has been stellar, helped by compression and ADSL2+ technology where the poor performance of one mandated access to Sky Italia’s soccer Meanwhile, Russia is about to get its service could backfire on the entire rights. FastWeb also supplies fast first IPTV deployment from StreamTV, a triple-play package – and lose a Internet and VOD services, covering subsidiary of Sistema Multimedia. customer forever. Rome and Milan among other places. StreamTV offers 80 TV and radio The risks are so high that one giant In the UK, Video Networks Limited is channels, broadband Internet and player, Australia’s Telstra, has looked at operating an ADSL access to VOD with charges ranging its wired infrastructure and in June from $9.95 to $17.95 a month (plus a applied a handbrake to its planned IPTV one-time charge of $210 for the roll-out, citing anxieties over delays set-top box). Sistema says it being experienced elsewhere, not least needs 300,000 subscribers in with Microsoft’s first major European and around Moscow to break client, Swisscom. even, but it is helped by In May Swisscom, one of the first already having 150,000 telcos in Europe to sign up to existing subs for its Microsoft's IPTV software platform, was narrowband service. forced to delay the launch of StreamTV uses Alcatel’s commercial services from the second OpenMedia suite of half of this year to sometime next year, products and NDS for largely because of reported technical Conditional Access. difficulties with the software. “They Telekom Austria’s existing aren't as far along as they thought they Internet-only AON.TV is would be,” admits Swisscom expanding into IPTV communications director Pia Colombo. (calling its service “Now we are going to have to wait until AonDigitalTV) in and all the kinks are worked out.” around Vienna, with 40 Microsoft’s statements on the delays channels on offer, plus (which reportedly also affect some VOD. And another toe-in- other major clients like BellSouth, SBC the-water is taking place and Verizon Communications) are few in Dublin, where Magnet and far between. Ed Gracyzk is the well- Networks (owned by US- known public face of Microsoft’s IPTV based Columbia division (he is director of marketing, Ventures) is using fibre- Microsoft IPTV) and says the Swisscom to-the-home and DSL, delay is largely because of the client’s Supplement European IPTV page six www.cable-satellite.com
  7. 7. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV set-top box requirements. He argues Gracyzk terms ‘connected that nobody said that adopting IPTV entertainment’, a feature that can link would be achieved overnight. all digital devices such as PCs, games “There are lots of pieces to the big consoles, digital IPTV puzzle,” says Gracyzk. “We're one video recorders of those pieces and we aim to finish our and phones in software later this year. But every telco the home, and has its own requirements, too, and will to be future- need to work closely with its suppliers proof in the for set-top boxes, encoders, content and process. Some more to make everything work. critics remain, “If you’re going to bet the farm on mostly arguing this new service, you’re going to want that Microsoft’s to partner with a company whose core model is not as experience is not only developing scaleable as software, but developing software claimed, a point that’s used on a massive scale; that that Ed Gracyzk has the experience of creating firmly refutes. software for the consumer; software Time will tell. for the TV; that has the resources to The Microsoft be there and insure that you’re view of the world successful in your deployment and in has IP at its core evolving this software platform in the and there are other future,” adds Gracyzk. commentators who Gracyzk is certainly right. Rome believe that with the wasn’t built in a day and any service that introduction of IP last For IPTV operators potentially integrates just about every miles for television, the telcos have trying to carve out a future in the video digital device in the home into one end- released a genie that will change the business, the focus is on the here-and- to-end seamless operation is bound to media landscape forever. now, however. Roger Lynch, CEO at be stretching everyone’s capabilities. Ed Richards, a senior partner at Video Networks in London, says the key None of this has put BT off, anyway. Ofcom, the UK media regulator, says to IPTV success is the convergence Its expected order for Microsoft Britain’s conversion to a near all- between broadband technology and technology has been the worst-kept broadband world will take 5-7 years entertainment, giving consumers secret in the world of IPTV, but recently “at most” and represents a faster take- more choices. the UK telco admitted it had selected up than any modern technology. He “IP stands for Internet Protocol - it the US software giant as its partner. cites France and Italy’s experience with doesn't actually stream television over Andrew Burke, CEO of BT IPTV as an example to the rest of the Internet, it streams it over a private Entertainment, says it is BT’s intention Europe, adding: “What's going on here network,” he emphasises. “It uses the to feed its content into Xboxes, and in so many other areas is a same protocol and a lot of the same Microsoft’s Media Centres and “other gradual transfer of power from technology to deliver it. Satellite will still platforms”. He admits that broadband’s broadcaster, distributor and supplier, be there, cable will still be there but initial appeal was to always-on early to viewer, listener and consumer. from a consumer's point of view, rather adopters but now it is much more “The traditional means of control, than looking at the technology itself, the mainstream. “[Users today] want to use which have rested squarely on scarce focus [of IPTV] is about giving them their broadband not just for the spectrum and mono functional [consumers] what they want, when Internet, but also to have entertainment distribution systems are gradually they want it.” delivered, and to perform facing challenges, not least from each The challenge for new-entry or communications. When we looked at the other, from the increasing flexibility of incumbent telcos is greatest where there marketplace there was absolutely only different distribution systems, either are advanced cable services, of course, one choice: that was Microsoft.” through network enhancement (DSL, and the new video providers can expect a The two companies clearly agree on cable, mobile), reception device fight from Europe’s established wired the future direction of broadband in the capability (PVRs, PCs, televisions) or video providers, who have invested huge home. Microsoft’s big vision calls for its through a combination of these systems sums in building out their own networks. software platform to support what and devices.” Cable’s game plan is to accelerate European IPTV Supplement page seven www.cable-satellite.com
  8. 8. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV New 2005 IPTV Euro-deployments considerable interest among European cable operators in using unbundled Country DSL/FTTH Operator Location Notes local-loops to deliver video-over-DSL services of their own. They can use Ireland FTTH Magnet Networks Dublin New build homes DSL to expand their existing video France DSL T-Online France National Sold as "Club Internet" services into markets where they Russia DSL Stream TV Moscow Target 150,000 subs have no HFC infrastructure and where building an HFC architecture Belgium DSL Belgacom Wallonia 1,000 strong pilot is uneconomic. Austria DSL AonDigital Vienna Autumn launch The very technology that is allowing Italy DSL Telecom Italia Major cities Trial to 1,000 homes incumbent telcos to fight back against UK DSL BT Entertainment Nationwide Trial spring '06 cable, with video services, can also be used by cable to take on the telcos in new markets. The interest in IPTV digital migration and exploit advanced “more intense competitive also reveals a new mindset in some video services like HDTV, VOD, environment”. cable companies – less wedded to a television-on-demand and Personal At this year’s ECCA Congress (the specific transmission infrastructure Video Recorders. But in a world of triple- annual gathering of the European Cable and more inclined to view themselves play services, television cannot be Communications Association) there as media service providers who will entirely separated from the overall was much talk about ‘platform wars’. use the best access network service package and the cable industry 2006 will clearly see more IPTV technology available to them. will improve its high-speed data speeds progress, especially as the larger France Telecom and its big telco and expand voice offerings, especially commitments achieve meaningful neighbours have shown that there is through Voice over IP. Some European deployment and confidence builds. plenty of life left in twisted copper pair. cable operators even have ambitions to Cable companies, whether in the UK, But at the end of the day, IPTV is a offer mobile voice services. the Netherlands, Germany or technical definition for an on-demand Typical is an August announcement elsewhere will fight to retain market video or broadcast television service (or from UK cable operator NTL. A year ago share and some will even invest in both) that is delivered using IP NTL was in bankruptcy protection. IPTV-based services themselves. transport for the last mile access. Until Today it is in a much healthier state, For the irony is that where IPTV, now the term ‘IPTV’ could be used to likely to merge with the UK’s other using DSL in particular, proves to be a define a market characterised by cable company Telewest, once Telewest viable access network for new TV incumbent and new entrant telcos with has sold off its Flextech channels services, cable can also exploit this video services. In future it could be less business. The company is ready to give new medium. There is now clear who the IPTV operators are. BT a fight and CEO Simon Duffy says NTL will offer customers up to 10Mbps The IPTV everywhere vision “as standard” for broadband access, although only promising a service introduction by the end of 2006. Sean Carton, chief experience officer at Carton Donofrio Partners, a NTL is also talking of introducing an Baltimore-based brand and interactive creative agency, has outlined the interim service called ‘The Turbo long-term implications for consumers now that television is being delivered Button,’ which will burst a connection within IP packets. to higher speeds when customers are “In reality, all digital media will, at some point, be packaged and ‘tagged’ in downloading bandwidth-heavy content such a way the elements can be reconstituted on the various devices we use. In like video. This all follows a trend in US some respects, all content will exist online as a vast, distributed database. We cable to improve the data offer. can tap in using TVs, handheld devices, and computers. Comcast, for example, has announced a “To some extent, this has already happened. But with the development of new top residential tier of 8Mbps. IPTV (and other technologies), it will eventually become an everyday reality. Up to now NTL has been offering Between always-on broadband and ubiquitous wireless connectivity, consumers customers three tiers of broadband will be (and are) able to tap into an ever-growing cloud of content. It can be covering 1Mbps, 2Mbps and 3Mbps but experienced on any one of a growing inventory of networked devices. Duffy has admitted that the operator is The number of content choices consumers have access to is staggering and now losing customers to rival will only continue to grow.” operators in what he described as a European IPTV Supplement page nine www.cable-satellite.com
  9. 9. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Next-generation DSL D igital video over DSL presents carriers with the chance to compensate for falling voice revenues and, in some cases, disappointing levels of broadband subscription. But the bandwidths required will often demand expensive upgrades to the access DSL infrastructure, the second mile and the backbone network, and some carriers still have to be convinced of the short-term business case for television and on-demand video. In Germany there is limited enthusiasm for the new medium, partly because consumers are accustomed to free TV. But a telling factor is the state of the telephony network. Because Deutsche Telecom was very early rolling out DSL services, the network would need to be upgraded and, as a result, the business case for IPTV is poor. Significant deployment is likely to lag two years behind other telco TV markets like France, Italy and Belgium. To some degree, the strong regional differences in European IPTV deployments do reflect the varying state of the DSL access networks – plus of course the amount of quality free TV available and existing Pay TV competition from cable, satellite and DTT. So it is the access network where much of the attention is now focused. Even for operators who already offer Pay TV via copper, the challenge is to prepare their networks for advanced video services like HDTV and multiple simultaneous channels per home. Most of the ‘established’ IPTV operators who are using DSL IPTV providers will have to deliver have rolled out their services using current ADSL technology, multiple simultaneous streams of TV which is generally good enough to deliver 4.5Mbps to the to the home, including at least one HD home for all services. FastWeb, the triple-play provider in channel, to compete. Philip Hunter looks Italy that uses fibre-to-the-home and DSL access networks, announced in March that it had upgraded existing ADSL at how ADSL2+, VDSL and FTTH can cope connections to 6Mbps (constant download bandwidth), while with the challenge, especially using the UK incumbent BT has been pushing the limits of what is advanced codecs possible with ADSL, right up to 8Mbps, in tests. The next generation of DSL, ADSL2+, will have a dramatic impact on the competitive landscape for pay television in tests it has been achieving 20Mbps with ADSL2+ on most of Europe, though. ADSL2+ has the potential to reach 25Mbps its copper, and 16Mbps on its longest copper loops. but in practice it is likely to provide 12-16Mbps. But that is France Telecom, which is offering an IPTV service over DSL adequate for the medium-term ambitions of most telco (MaLigne TV) has been busy with a nationwide roll-out of operators, who are hoping to provide one channel of HDTV ADSL2+ in anticipation of a mid-2006 HDTV launch. With loop and two channels of standard-definition TV simultaneously to lengths predominantly less than 3.5kms, the company can the home, in addition to broadband Internet and voice use the new technology for the majority of its customers services. In fact, 15Mbps seems to be the benchmark figure without pushing fibre deeper into its access layer, and is for Europe’s more ambitious TV-over-DSL providers. confident ADSL2+ is adequate for its future video needs. NTL, the UK cable company, uses twisted pair copper to French rival Free is also rolling out ADSL2+ with HDTV provide telephone services to its subscribers and therefore services in mind and yet another French video-over-DSL finds itself in the envious position of being able to choose provider, Neuf Telecom, is staking its future on ADSL2+. Neuf between HFC or DSL for its last mile broadband Internet is the leading local-loop unbundler in Europe with a total of access in future (although it does not make sense today to 700,000 ADSL users at the end of January (not all video introduce IPTV). The company has fibre to within subscribers, of course). approximately 180 metres of customer homes and during Belgacom, which introduced its interactive digital TV European IPTV Supplement page eleven www.cable-satellite.com
  10. 10. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV offering this year, is putting its faith in According to Magnet Networks CEO VDSL (Very high-speed DSL) technology Ingvar Gardarsson, “FTTH is future- instead, having decided that the loop proof and provides us with a virtually lengths on ADSL2+ were too long. The endless range of new services as and company has undertaken a Eu300 when they come on line. As a result, we million fibre roll-out programme to are deploying it to as large an extent as bring nodes closer to homes and is practically and economically feasible launched it first VDSL based service for the company.” (VDSL Boost) in January. This currently In practice Magnet is likely to offers 9Mbps downstream. consider other technologies – certainly Depending on distances, VDSL can DSL anyway– to reach subscribers support bit rates up to 25Mbps, which outside the major towns and cities. will be ample for even the most This reflects the fact that, even for a demanding video user. According to Greenfield provider, it is uneconomic to Willem Vebiest, vice president for triple- run fibre to remoter communities. play at Alcatel (which has a 38 per cent At the same time that European IPTV Europe that has committed firmly, and share of the DSL infrastructure bandwidth is expanding, video bit rates publicly, to advanced codecs is Bluewin, market), each node should serve 500 are starting to fall. Using traditional the Swisscom TV over DSL offering. The MPEG-2 compression, which has been company has opted for a Windows the backbone of digital TV worldwide for Media 9 Series solution (using over a decade, broadcast video typically Tandberg’s EN5920 encoders) for requires 3Mbps to 3.5Mbps on a DSL standard-definition television and is network, although it depends on the aiming for 1.5Mbps bit rates. source material. In what is probably the most Video Networks Limited (VNL), the UK ambitious telecoms TV project TV-over-DSL provider, has now anywhere, this time in the US, SBC subscribers at most, and preferably migrated all its broadcast TV channels Communications is aiming to at least less, for VDSL. to AVC (H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10), halve bit rates for standard and high- Vebiest says Europe is better placed becoming the first company anywhere definition TV with Scientific-Atlanta’s than the US for the deployment of to make the transition to advanced advanced codec encoders – delivering a advanced DSL because distances from codecs. But while using MPEG-2, it full video service on a next-generation the fibre node to the home are generally was running SD video at 2Mbps for network to 18 million homes by 2008. less. This means the majority of homes services captured off fibre (because The real benefit of combining can be served with ADSL2+ without the they are easier to encode) but up to advanced compression and ADSL2+ or need for additional fibre. “Using ADSL2+, 3.5Mbps if the feed was coming off VDSL is in delivering HDTV and the one can achieve 12Mbps to 60 per cent satellite already compressed. The telcos know they are going to have to of the homes on average in Europe, and company installed Harmonic Inc’s offer a strong HD line-up to compete 4-5Mbps to around 70 per cent. So there DiviCom MV100 encoders for its with cable and DTH satellite. is much better overall coverage than broadcast TV requirements. France Telecom was the driving force cable networks can provide without Advanced codecs – and the other behind a demonstration in June that doing anything special,” he comments. alternative is Microsoft’s Windows showed, for the first time anywhere, an Another option, more particularly for Media 9 Video, which is the basis of the AVC compressed, live HDTV broadcast service providers building new forthcoming SMPTE VC-1 standard – are over an operational ADSL2+ network. networks, is fibre-to-the-home. In expected to halve bit rates. The real The demonstration (also involving Ireland, the new triple-play service benefit will be seen in HDTV, which Alcatel, Tandberg Television and provider Magnet Networks has built a requires 16-22Mbps in MPEG-2 on Broadcom, which supplied its IPTV set- FTTH network serving the Dublin area cable or satellite today. But all video top reference design platform) was in conjunction with the Nordic providers relying on DSL, including the performed at the French Open Tennis broadband technology provider and large incumbents currently using Tournament at Roland Garros Stadium systems integrator Industria. The MPEG-2, are expected to use advanced in Paris. decision to go for FTTH was driven by codecs in the medium term, whether for Europe’s IPTV operators are readying the desire to have plenty of headroom HD or SD. themselves for the next stage of their for new services. One of the few other IPTV operators in television evolution. Supplement European IPTV page twelve www.cable-satellite.com
  11. 11. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Content on Demand drives IPTV forwards B roadband telecoms carriers Internet users are essentially ‘pull’ European IPTV around the world are finally well customers – they are destination- on their way towards introducing driven; they reach a destination on the operators are leading TV services to subscribers, using Internet and pull the content to them. the way in network-DVR broadband IP networks. Even though As a result media consumers are services, helping to the loudest IPTV announcements during increasingly demanding that this “what differentiate themselves the past year seem to have been coming you want, when you want it” experience from their Pay TV rivals. from the US, and about 150 independent be made available on TV. Steve Hawley reports on telcos have deployed TV services there, Because competing cable and the reality in late 2005 is that there are satellite operators are moving quickly how on-demand is at the far more IPTV subscribers in Europe and to introduce on-demand and interactive heart of TV over fibre Asia than there are in North America. TV services of their own, IPTV service and DSL One of the biggest influences upon providers – telephone companies, service providers has been the effect utilities and ISPs - are challenged to competitors and, at the same time, able the Internet has had on the provide service packages that are both to meet the “pull, not push” expectation. expectations of media consumers. differentiated from these incumbent They are meeting this challenge by giving subscribers the choice of watching broadcast TV live or on a time- shifted basis where they can access the programmes on-demand after they are first ‘aired’. These services are further complemented by movies-on-demand and personal communications. Two of Europe’s most advanced broadband TV services, HomeChoice from Video Networks Ltd in London and FastWeb in Italy, have gone to great lengths to develop state-of-the-art on- demand content offerings. Interestingly, neither of them are telephone companies, although they must both work with local incumbents. Video Networks’ initial broadband Internet and VOD service became available commercially in 2000 but it was not until Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, reduced local-loop costs that the company was able to launch its full range of services. Its broadcast TV came on line in May 2004, followed by telephony in November of that year. Video Networks co-locates its DSLAMs (DSL Access Multiplexers) in BT (UK’s incumbent telco) central offices. Although its telephony services are actually from BT, subscribers are presented with a single HomeChoice bill. The company presents its European IPTV Supplement page fifteen www.cable-satellite.com
  12. 12. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV subscribers with a list of broadcast TV well as national sports programming. at mass-market prices. Today there programming and those marked with an In addition to its VOD, time-shift TV is a new generation of off-the-shelf ‘r’ are ‘replay’ (time-shifted) channels and games-on-TV services, not to set-tops, able to support most on- with video content cached on a central mention voice and broadband data, demand content models, from large server for up to a week after their initial FastWeb also offers personal mainstream suppliers. run. Behind the ‘View VOD’ button is a videoconferencing both to the TV and At IBC 2005, for example, Scientific- dedicated VOD service with about a the PC, which one might consider to be Atlanta introduced a new suite of IP set- thousand movies, organised by genre. the ultimate in on-demand video. tops specifically targeted for European Currently, on-demand TV Because Video Networks and FastWeb IPTV deployments that included programmes and movies are stored were so early to market, they were standard-definition and high-definition within centralised facilities, not within forced to make choices that were devices and SD/HD PVR products with the customer premises device, but the unique. For example, no off-the-shelf integrated DVB-T receivers (and dual provider is receptive to local DVR IPTV middleware applications platform SCART connectors). The range supports storage, saying that a combination of was available at deployment to help a variety of advanced video codecs centralised and local storage would them create and present their service (AVC/MPEG-4 Part 10/H.264 and VC-1) complement one another. This degree of line-ups on subscriber TV screens. So and allows operators to take flexibility will allow Video Networks to both companies used in-house software advantage of an open platform that provide on-demand programming in a developers to create them. supports popular middleware and variety of price/availability models to Similarly, no off-the-shelf set-top operating systems. support the HomeChoice promise of, boxes were available to meet their Most industry watchers believe that well, more choice! needs. FastWeb wanted a built-in video the majority of carriers will ultimately It will be interesting to follow the camera for personal video conferencing offer both live and on-demand TV, progress of HomeChoice, as BT has while Video Networks needed a receiver including movies-on-demand, in announced that it will be launching a that was compliant with its custom combination with voice and broadband competing VOD-only IPTV service in software. So each provider commissioned data services. Consumer expectations, 2006. custom set-top boxes based on their local culture, competitive pressures and Like HomeChoice, FastWeb offers live own unique design criteria. regulatory realities in each home TV, broadband Internet access, What IP set-top boxes were available market will influence the precise IPTV telephony and VOD and, as of mid-2005, a few years ago tended to come mainly service line-ups in each region of the company was serving about 150,000 from start-up companies, none of them the world. video subscribers. Unlike HomeChoice, whose service is offered in one city and a large town, FastWeb uses a broadband backbone that will cover half Preparing for on-demand of Italy by the end of 2006. FastWeb already serves video subscribers in There is a list of complex issues that IPTV providers must consider when preparing a Rome, Milan, Genoa, Turin, Naples, broadcast/on-demand video offering: Bologne and Reggio Emilia. q The service mix that makes the most sense, given the competitive offerings available On-demand TV is part of FastWeb’s from incumbent competitors in the IPTV provider’s local market. This includes whether or promise of “the all on-demand not to offer time-shifted TV, VOD, HD programming, games, TV-on-PC, home networking experience”, and is a major and others differentiator for the company. In fact, q The type of set-top box used to decode the programming, support IP multicast and its time-shift TV service is unique in unicast, support the chosen content protection, and potentially support VOD and local Italy; not even Sky Italia (the DTH caching for DVR and maybe in-home video distribution. They must also consider platform) offers it. compatibility with the operator’s chosen IPTV middleware, support for remote provisioning, FastWeb can offer programming from troubleshooting and maintenance all but two of its content suppliers on- q The client-server IPTV middleware-applications platform. This allows the video service demand. It has agreements with the provider to introduce the services that its market requires national broadcasters in Italy to record q The video encoding/decoding format, which can be MPEG-2, today’s broadcast standard, all programming so subscribers can or an advanced and less bandwidth-intensive codec such as MPEG-4 Part 10 or VC-1. watch TV programme archives on a Advanced codecs present the possibility of offering HDTV over DSL – an important time-shifted basis. FastWeb was also consideration in markets where HD has become a common cable or satellite offering the first VOD provider in Italy, offering q For providers with copper access networks, whether or not to bump up the bandwidth by movies from Universal Studios, moving to ADSL2+ or VDSL over copper. An alternative is to replace copper altogether with DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox as optical fibre European IPTV Supplement page seventeen www.cable-satellite.com
  13. 13. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV The cable response The cable industry has noted the benefits of switched video. It already uses the technology for VOD and leading operators are expanding the concept to broadcast TV, delivering less popular channels on request rather than as part of the permanent broadcast line-up. Cable operators are confident that switched video over HFC offers the best of all worlds I ncumbent and new-entry telecoms one person is 'broadcast' from the cable operators is to expand the concept of providers are making slow but node (where the fibre gives way to switching to some of its broadcast steady progress in their efforts to coaxial) to all homes fed by that node, channels too – something that will enter the television business. There is whether it is 500 homes or 2,000, for reduce the broadcast line-up on each no denying that IPTV – delivering example. cable segment and free bandwidth for television as IP packets all the way to A European 8MHz channel can carry other services, like more VOD. the home over private networks – is a around 12 television programmes With switched broadcasting, disruptive technology. It is here to stay. using MPEG-2 (certainly on 256 QAM existing QAM resources and But whether it also disrupts the media where there is 50Mbps per channel, set-top boxes can be used, landscape and allows new but even on 64 QAM with the right so for operators offering VOD companies to take there is limited network significant market disruption. Instead of share in digital Pay TV broadcasting all programmes remains to be seen. from every serving The European cable industry is taking content mix precautions against the threat of IPTV and statistical and expects advanced digital video multiplexing). So services like VOD, television-on- HFC provides a area (perhaps a node), cable demand, DVR, multi-room DVR and huge amount of operators broadcast the most popular HDTV to cement its relationships with bandwidth. programmes only – those that are likely subscribers. Where digital tiers are However, because to have many people watching them lots small or non-existent, the emphasis is all content is of the time. on migrating customers to digital TV as broadcast across Less the first step towards introducing these the last mile popular premium offers, and in order to harvest (however short special interest bandwidth. that last mile channels are Fibre-to-the-home is still small-scale might be) multicast across the so the real threat is video-over-DSL. there is cable backbone but are DSL providers are confident they can still a only routed into the offer an enhanced television limit on local serving area, experience, partly thanks to their the choice that and then across the coaxial network to switched, IP-based networks, which cable operators the home, if somebody within that enable them to offer an almost can offer in their segment has requested the channel. unlimited choice of content to users. programme line-up. This process is transparent to the Because of the one-to-one Telcos are convinced that consumer; programmes are displayed nature of a DSL connection because of their switched on the EPG as part of the broadcast TV between the DSLAM and the networks, they can hit cable hard in offering, as before. Once somebody home, programming is only an area where they are used to requests the channel, intelligent delivered to a subscriber supremacy – for on-demand services. software establishes the link from the who requests it. This The benefits of a switched network network backbone, via the correct QAM contrasts with cable HFC have not gone unnoticed; US cable modulator, to the home. If someone in a architectures where operators have been using switching, serving area is already watching the the last mile is a combined with IP video transport on same niche channel then no action is shared medium. their backbones, for several years to required as the new viewer simply Even a VOD stream deliver Video on Demand. And one tunes to the existing feed. When all that is watched by technology response open to cable viewers of the niche programme have Supplement European IPTV page eighteen www.cable-satellite.com
  14. 14. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV stopped watching, the programme is dropped from the local (downstream-heavy) video. If a cable operator has spare line-up again. CMTS capacity then it may make sense to fill it with video, but This concept is being taken seriously by major US cable this is not a common luxury. operators. Time Warner Cable recently completed a nine Important work is underway to separate the modulation/ month trial of digital switched broadcasting in Austin, Texas, transmission functions of a CMTS from its data processing with a spokesman describing the pilot as very successful. “As capabilities in an attempt to reduce the cost of downstream a result we will be rolling out switched broadcast in two of DOCSIS services. The forthcoming DOCSIS 3.0 standard our markets this year (the company operates in 31 markets addresses this. But it is early days for DOCSIS video and there across 27 states) and pretty rapidly after that.” is a strong argument that it is unnecessary at this stage anyway. Cox Communications, meanwhile, began trialling switched Nick Fielibert, VP for broadcasting this year in Minneola, Texas. The Scientific-Atlanta Europe and company is testing the technology on 400 CTO for Europe and Asia, argues that digital subscribers spread across four switched broadcasting still offers the nodes and is broadcasting the whole option to exploit DOCSIS 3.0 later, while it also analogue tier of 60 channels but makes economic sense now. switching all 56 digital channels. “If an operator offers VOD and moves into Cox is cagey about its switched digital broadcasting you have to add precise ambitions for some resource management to what is already switched broadcasting but a there and some more QAM capacity,” he says. spokesman did say that they are “This is perfectly feasible from an economic “always interested in technologies point of view – there are no hurdles.” that offer customers more choice The resulting hybrid broadcast and switched and that make the most of resources”. network is considered a strength that cable The company offers a full range of cable can exploit. If operators optimise the services including telephony. “That is another number of homes per node, they can source of traffic that has bandwidth enjoy the efficiencies of a shared requirements. We are certainly not in a broadcast medium for popular position where it could be characterised as content, whilst increasing a bandwidth-crunch, but you have to be channel choice or VOD forward looking.” catalogues through switching. Cox is using set-top boxes that The telco last mile has limitations of its own, after all. If a were already deployed in the system. DSL provider wants to offer multi-room television and allow According to the spokesman, “There were significant changes consumers to watch three channels simultaneously, they in the network, including stream modification, routing and have to deliver three separate video streams into the home. QAM modulation, with all the switched QAMs being new.” So This requires at least 9Mbps for standard-definition TV using does it look like switched broadcasting will be a low-pain MPEG-2 and will still need a minimum of 4.5Mbps with option for recovering bandwidth for other services, or advanced codecs like AVC. So multi-room television is ruled increasing channel choice? In the opinion of Cox, “This is a out on most ADSL networks today. Once HDTV is added to the moderately painful option – comparable to deploying VOD.” mix there is a clear need for advanced codecs combined with There are other options available to cable operators network upgrades to ADSL2+ or VDSL. including further expansion of network capacity. There is A cable set-top box with multiple tuners (like a multi-room some interest in 1GHz networks in the US but investors are DVR) can receive three channels simultaneously and route not keen on the word ‘upgrade’ after years of cable build-out. them to the correct TVs. If these are popular channels And of course, cable companies can always use local-loop contained in the broadcast line-up, they will be transmitted unbundling to become IPTV providers themselves – across the last mile for any set-top box to tune to. So using HFC, something that is already happening in Europe. a cable operator can deliver three popular channels of SD to Moreover, the cable industry is already sitting on its own the home using 9Mbps (in MPEG-2) – but that same 9Mbps switched, all-IP last mile network: DOCSIS/EuroDOCSIS. This will also feed those channels to the entire population of a node. standards-based transmission technology is used for sending The efficiencies of this broadcast architecture are amplified high-speed data and IP voice services over RF (Radio once you introduce HDTV, especially as HD content will be Frequency) today. But it can be used to deliver video too. In limited early on to the more popular channels like premium fact, a small number of cable operators worldwide are sports. This is perfect material for broadcasting rather than experimenting with VOD over DOCSIS today. switching. So the cable industry remains confident in its HFC However, using current CMTS (Cable Modem Termination infrastructure, despite a willingness to adopt the best of what System) technology, DOCSIS is an expensive way to deliver it sees elsewhere. video because the CMTS systems were designed for fairly symmetric data services rather than highly asymmetric Report: John Moulding European IPTV Supplement page nineteen www.cable-satellite.com
  15. 15. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV Advanced encoding opens doors Advanced encoding is a business enabler for the IPTV market, making single streams of SDTV possible on old ADSL networks, and multi-room services with HDTV feasible for ADSL2+ and VDSL. Where MPEG-2 television is already offered, it can expand market reach, putting premium content like sports in front of more subscribers A dvanced encoding is the future of telcos using DSL are talking about several years on ADSL2+ and we don’t video-over-DSL. In many 15Mbps as the benchmark to support see any big problem [with the codec] if instances it is the technology that advanced video services using advanced we can reach 15Mbps, but when we makes it possible in the first place. encoding – e.g. one channel of HD and start offering more services – like video Compared to the current MPEG-2 digital two channels of SD to the home phones and security surveillance, for video compression standard, advanced simultaneously. This 15Mbps figure example – we will almost certainly codecs can reduce bit rates by at least also leaves room for broadband Internet migrate to MPEG-4.” half (depending on the content and the and telephony. Meanwhile, Video Networks quality of the existing MPEG-2 The upgrade strategies of two Limited (VNL), which offers a triple-play encoding) and on older DSL networks northern European IPTV operators service over ADSL in London, has with longer copper loop lengths, this illustrate the close relationship decided that advanced coding (in the reduction is necessary to squeeze video between network type, service form of AVC/MPEG-4 Part 10/H.264) is through the limited bandwidth. ambitions and codec choice. Magnet the answer to its broadcast TV Only DSL providers with new Networks is a FTTH operator that ambitions immediately. networks and short loop lengths, and launched triple-play services to new- The company currently offers who are happy to deliver one channel of build homes in north Dublin last standard-definition TV only, but clearly standard-definition TV to the home, can December, but the company is already has its sights on HDTV. According to seriously consider MPEG-2 for encoding planning its expansion using DSL. The Roger Lynch, VNL’s chairman and beyond the short-term. Most operators IPTV systems integrator, Industria, led CEO: “We see the benefits of who want to offer two or more the design and implementation of the advanced encoding in MPEG-4, simultaneous television streams into broadband network and according to combined with migration to the home will be considering a network Gudjon Mar Gudjonsson, CEO at ADSL2+, enabling the sector upgrade to ADSL2+ or VDSL, or the Industria, Magnet will use ADSL2+ from to provide HDTV in the very introduction of advanced encoding using the outset on copper, but combine this near future.” either AVC (Advanced Video Coding) or with MPEG-2 during the first phase of One of the original motives Windows Media 9 Video, the Microsoft the anticipated roll-out. for using AVC encoding was codec that is the basis for the The company is already deploying so that VNL could expand forthcoming SMPTE VC-1 ‘standard’. MPEG-2 set-top boxes to its fibre its service footprint to Video-over-DSL providers operating customers and Gudjonsson says of the London’s outlying suburbs in highly competitive environments, DSL plans: “The focus will be on where the average where they require multiple targeting customers within a 2km range distance between the simultaneous channels to the home [from the exchange/video office] and telephone exchanges and combined with HDTV, must look that will enable us to deliver bandwidth homes is higher. DSL bit towards ADSL2+ or VDSL and advanced all the way up to 15Mbps with ADSL2+. rates decline with distance but encoding together. We have had some very successful advanced codecs can compress Standard-definition TV channels are outcomes from our tests.” video services enough to ensure that typically encoded at 3Mbps to 3.5Mbps Gudjonsson says a realistic video they can still be received in the depths over DSL today using MPEG-2. With offering using ADSL2+ and MPEG-2 is of the network. Lynch estimated last advanced codecs, 1.5Mbps is realistic two to three streams of standard- year that AVC would enable the for SD once operators get to grips with definition TV to the home. Magnet is company to reach 10 million homes the technology, while considering introducing HDTV but this instead of 6-7 million homes with HDTV can be reduced to would probably be a premium service MPEG-2, and that has a real-world around 8-9Mbps. Thus a for fibre connected customers. “We can impact on the bottom line. number of European certainly continue with MPEG-2 for VNL migrated its entire Supplement European IPTV page twenty two www.cable-satellite.com
  16. 16. SUPPLEMENT SPONSORS European IPTV broadcast TV line-up (over 60 channels) encoding means content can be needed for each channel of broadcast from MPEG-2 to AVC this summer and is optimised for the DSL network. VNL TV transmitted into the network. the first video provider anywhere to deployed new set-top boxes in May last Apart from VNL – which is using deliver live, commercial channels using year (which it designed) that were Harmonic’s DiviCom MV 100 MPEG- an advanced codec. The company is MPEG-2 but upgradeable to MPEG-4 2/AVC encoders – there are very few unwilling to provide figures on bit rate via software. IPTV operators in Europe who have savings yet, but according to Simon VNL can still be categorised as an announced their intention to use next- Hunt, director of television at VNL, “We immature video network – there were generation codecs publicly. Swisscom’s have achieved savings and increased 3,300 ‘legacy’ receivers when the Bluewin is one of them, having been picture quality on the channels. The company performed its swap-out, which trialling TV-over-DSL using Microsoft’s codec is relatively immature but we was needed anyway to enable the Windows Media 9 codec on Tandberg’s have made savings from launch, and we introduction of an Electronic Programme EN5920 SD encoders. Belgacom is believe there are significant further Guide. Even today there are only 15,000 expected to introduce advanced coding savings to be made.” subscribers, based on the latest figures too – probably AVC. The company Emphasising the impact advanced released in February. For telcos with launched its BelgacomTV service codecs can have on network reach and larger subscriber bases and MPEG-2 earlier this year with MPEG-2 encoders business models, Hunt says VNL is now ‘legacy’ set-top populations the that are upgradeable to AVC and is now able to offer Sky Sports – a premium benefits of advanced codecs – being converting its network to VDSL with a sports channel that requires higher bit demonstrated clearly by Video view to offering HDTV. rates – to more subscribers. “The Networks – must be weighed against France Telecom is another contender picture is also better than before,” he the disruption of set-top swaps. for advanced coding. The company has adds. The company’s VOD service Nearly all existing telco TV providers already upgraded its network to ADSL2+ remains MPEG-2 and must now be performing delicate nationally but is developing HDTV there is no hurry calculations about their current services for a likely service launch to change that network capabilities, the services they next summer. The company is expected as non wish to introduce and the availability to introduce AVC – certainly for new real-time and cost of set-top boxes that support HDTV customers. advanced codecs. The big surprise has been the early Generally speaking, advanced codecs success of the AVC standard in the IPTV will be the preferred option wherever marketplace. This codec is the clear there are new services with high preference of satellite and cable bandwidth demands. Greenfield video- operators but going back two years, the over-DSL deployments will almost telecoms market was expected to back certainly use advanced codecs – Microsoft’s WM9V codec. The telco especially once set-top boxes are market share predictions for WM9V available in numbers next year, and have steadily declined since then. prices fall. Even new-build FTTH One announcement that is awaited operators may consider AVC or VC-1 with anticipation – not from a European soon, especially if they intend to operator, admittedly – is the codec offer HDTV. choice of SBC Communications in the Their decisions could be influenced by US. The telco giant is rolling out a very the fact that much HDTV content will be ambitious FTTH and TV-over-DSL coming off satellite already encoded in service across 13 US states to 18 AVC. If IP television operators want to million homes. The company is using offer HDTV in MPEG-2 but receive it as VDSL2 on its copper networks and AVC, they will need to transcode content deploying Scientific-Atlanta’s advanced at their video headends. Some encoder video encoder platform (S-A currently experts believe the only way to perform offers the Advanced Compression an MPEG-2 to AVC transcode and still Encoder Model D9154 with support for achieve the 50 per cent bit rate MPEG-2 and AVC, with VC-1 to follow). reductions expected from AVC is to Another big vote in favour of AVC would decode first, then re-encode. This is confirm the impression that the codec perfectly feasible but adds to pendulum has swung in favour of headend costs, with encoders this standard. European IPTV Supplement page twenty three www.cable-satellite.com

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