Alcatel says the time is right for IPTV

Experts from Alcatel believe IPTV will soon be a reality as consumer demand grows and advances in technology facilitate the delivery of content over digital lines.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 29, 2005

Experts from Alcatel believe Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) will soon be a reality as consumer demand grows and advances in technology facilitate the delivery of content over digital lines. In fact, the same spokespeople argue that the Middle East could be an early adopter, as a rapidly liberalising telco market means incumbents and new entrants are looking for services that set them apart from their rivals. “There is now a demand from users and as the Middle East telecoms market becomes more competitive. Operators will have to use things like IPTV to either retain customers, or attract new ones. It is all about making the end user the master of his or her communication,” says Steve Hope, technology centre director for the fixed communication group at Alcatel. To help drive its IPTV ambitions forward, Alcatel recently signed a collaboration agreement with Microsoft. The duo expects to expand the nascent IPTV business, and Hope says such partnerships are essential to the success of the technology. “The success of IPTV is all about partnerships. There has to be a relationship between the content providers and the infrastructure providers, and between the infrastructure providers and Alcatel,” he adds. “We have a partnership with Microsoft and together we are looking to create a better TV experience,” Hope says. And, for the sceptics out there, Hope adds that quality of service won’t be an issue, especially if providers opt for Alcatel’s solutions. “Admittedly, the big problem with IPTV can be the quality of service and reliability. However, Alcatel’s routers can ensure the service, which is our big differentiator,” Hope says. “We also have the management software, called Asis, and this helps ensure the availability of IP and makes sure it is fully redundant,” he adds. Etisalat is certainly a fan of converged comms and the operator has spent much of this week talking about its forthcoming triple play offering. “Sure it will happen in the future as we are promoting the idea that a customer can get everything from one line to their home — their TV, telephone connection and internet,” says Eiman Al Muhairi, senior sales executive, Etisalat. “This is why we have been developing our triple play offering and why we are showcasing it at Gitex,” she adds. Yet whether Etisalat signs with Alcatel remains to be seen. Al Muhairi suggests Etisalat is keen to invest in its own infrastructure and set top technology, while Hope confesses that although he has met with regional operators none have signed on the dotted line as yet. “In Dubai we have been talking to Etisalat. However, while we have relationships with 30 providers around the world, we do not have one in the Middle East as yet. But we are hopeful that this will happen,” he says. “There are good synergies in the region as many operators have relationships with content providers,” Hope adds.

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