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ANGA-Cable Round-Up

June 20th, 2012 by ‐ No Comments

We are back from Cologne, and we are quite happy with how the event worked out for us. The organisers have managed to include terrestrial this year, and the satellite folks have always been around anyway. Hence, for our purposes, this clearly is the new IBC. 

Despite all the broadcast tech going digital, the event itself was quite an analogue experience; no hashtag, no app. We supplied comments to this extent to the organisers, so we’re confident this is set to improve.

Of course people are still saving the spectacular world’s firsts for ye olde Amsterdam. We did spot one thing in Cologne though, which we found quite remarkable. And to our knowledge, it’s a world’s first! The colleagues at Ferguson not only advertised DVB-IPTV on their booth (see photo), but they also showed a production-ready design of a set-top box implementing it.

The first DVB-IPTV standards were published in 2002. Why the fuzz now? Because in the long run, horizontal – i.e. standardised and open – systems always prevail. When new technology is introduced, making it work properly is hard. This is where vertical – i.e. proprietary and closed – systems prevail; you control the environment and can make things work, and the commercial break-even hence seems within reach. As time goes by, these vertical systems will however inevitably fall victim to their own success; they just don’t scale well.

From how we interpret our observations, we are convinced, that we are seeing the tipping point of the vertical IPTV systems today. Technical difficulties build up, yet subscriber numbers seem to have hit invisible barriers. Moving to horizontal solutions would provide advantages for all players: CE makers could reduce certification and software costs by considerable factors, TelCos could focus on what they really know how to do (provide access), and the content folks could boost the market by putting together attractive packages (at which TelCos have failed miserably).

The first signs are surfacing that the mindsets of people in the industry are changing (see Ferguson), and of course we will try to do our part in this game by further advertising horizontal solutions.

For all the other stuff that we saw:

  • upgrading to fibre optics is of course a hot topic (ultimately everyone loves tapping into tax payers’ money)
  • hospitality TV (hotels, hospitals) is seeing a re-launch technically; “cloud” is the buzzword here, too
  • the Conditional Access business seems to be gaining a small momentum; new customers from the IPTV and hospitality TV markets seem to provide just about enough air to breathe for a few, small new CA players to survive
  • in Europe, the set-top box is not the driving form factor any more; the European market will be dominated by TV sets and CI+ modules