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IPTV and the Future of Telecom

The push to offer next-generation video services over IP-based networks is coming from all types of network operators, including not only incumbent telcos but also their cable competitors, according to a major new study by Heavy Reading. Key findings include the following:

Competition, specifically in North America, is the primary driver for the buildout of IPTV networks and the delivery of IP video services. Although smaller North American IOCs are already delivering IPTV in some markets, it's the RBOCs' plans for IPTV that are creating the largest opportunities for vendors. These plans are being formulated primarily because of competitive pressure from the cable/MSOs, which are successfully eating away at the RBOCs' voice subscriber base with multiservice offerings of their own.

Cable/MSOs are not standing still in terms of enhanced entertainment service offerings and network-architecture evolution plans. Although all eyes are on the RBOCs, cable/MSOs are also quietly planning the transition of their underlying network architectures to IP. Given their installed base of video customers, it's not as visible a trend, although over the next five years, you should expect to see advancements in the MSO world under the guise of the Next Generation Network Architecture (NGNA) defined by Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner Cable.

A highly competitive ecosystem of service-specific hardware and software vendors is growing as a result of the demand for IPTV. Unlike the cable/MSO world, which is dominated by a relatively small number of suppliers for video-specific service-layer infrastructure, the IPTV opportunity has led to the involvement of a multitude of incumbent vendors and startups targeting specific areas in the IPTV food chain. This creates vendor-integration challenges, but it also provides more vendor choices for all elements of the service-delivery infrastructure. It's also a leading indicator that opportunities for vendor consolidation will be ripe as the market grows.

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