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Showing posts from July, 2005

Digital Den and Home Media Hubs

For the second year in a row, consumer clarity regarding the Digital Den concept and the use of media servers in the home is low but interest remains strong, according to Ipsos Insight�s most recent survey of American Internet users, titled America�s Digital Den. The survey examines consumer awareness, usage, and attitudes toward digital entertainment content and the convergence of entertainment devices and content in the home. Just over one out of three consumers is aware of the media hub � or Digital Den �concept, basically unchanged from a year ago at 38 percent. When exposed to the concept, nearly six out of ten (57 percent) consumers show an interest in buying a media hub. Among consumers who show an interest in owning a media hub, just over a quarter (27 percent) anticipate acquiring one within the next six months, and nearly one third (30 percent) anticipate doing so within six months to a year. �A majority of survey respondents who don�t currently own a media hub are interested

MSO Cable Wants to Cut the Cord

The cable industry long ago widened its ambitions beyond video, addicting millions of customers to cable modems and more recently adding voice over internet protocol telephony to its menu. Insiders call this video-voice-data combo the "triple play" strategy. So with a trifecta of moneymaking schemes on its plate, the cable guys must be pretty satisfied, right? Uh, no. "We're all still waiting for that aha moment in which we have a portable device that came from the cable company," said Dale Fox, vice president of digital phone at Time Warner Cable. That's right. The cable industry wants you to chuck your cable -- at least when you're outside the house. The addition of a fourth wireless component to the cable package is now affectionately known as the "quadruple play." At the annual meeting of CTAM, the cable industry's top sales and marketing folks gathered in Philly this week to figure out new ways to get at your wallet. And while the con

Soft Earnings Forecast for Film Sector

Will Street follow boxoffice pattern? -- As the wave of quarterly earnings reports from big media and entertainment companies is set to start in earnest with Sony Corp.'s latest figures, Wall Street observers are hoping for new insight into how the much-discussed advertising, boxoffice and DVD sales trends are affecting the financial performance of sector giants. Amid much recent gloom and doom talk, as well as weak first-half stock trading momentum, however, many wonder if anything can turn investors more bullish on the sector over the near-term. According to analysts, second-quarter earnings figures from such media giants as Time Warner and Viacom Inc. are unlikely to inspire much enthusiasm, while the Walt Disney Co. and News Corp. should provide some of the strongest quarterly reports.

Senator Proposes Changes to Telecom Act

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) proposed a bill that would eliminate the requirement that video service providers obtain a cable franchise agreement in order to provide video service. The legislation seeks to promote inter-modal competition between telcos and cable operators by making it easier for telcos to launch video services. The proposed Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005 would also set federal consumer protection standards, and would assure consumer access to Internet-based phone service. "We must not allow government regulations to be an anchor on the advance of technology if we want America to lead the world in the information age," said Ensign at a Capitol Hill press conference. The full text of the proposed legislation is online (72 pages).

Fixed-Mobile Convergence Revenues

According to Pyramid Research, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) revenues will reach $80 billion in 2009, or 6 percent of total communications spend worldwide. Converged service revenue growth will be derived from value-added services and the migration of digital content from broadcasting networks to new converged networks. Pyramid Research expects converged services adoption to accelerate after 2007 as more services are provided and consumers migrated to convergent platforms.

Digital Cinema Projection Standards Accord

Seven major Hollywood film studios announced that they have agreed on technical standards for digital cinema projection, laying the foundation for a money-saving transition from costly film prints to digitally-projected movies. Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a consortium that includes Disney, Fox, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros., will establish a financing entity that will borrow funds to bankroll the initial installation of digital projection systems -- which cost between $60,000 and $100,000 each -- in 3,500 to 10,000 screens nationwide. These costs would be partly passed on to theater owners, while the rest would be realized in savings from the digital conversion; while film prints cost around $1,200 each, and can deteriorate with use and time, digital movies maintain their quality and currently cost about $300 per copy. Previously, many theater owners were hesitant to pay to install digital projectors, for lack of a common standard. Among the standards set by DC

Mobile Music, Gambling, Games Forecast

Music, gambling, games and adult content will help create a $42.8 billion market globally by 2010 -- Consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones to play music and games, gamble and access adult content, opening up lucrative new revenue streams for the mobile and content industries, according to a major strategic research report to be published next month. MOBILE ENTERTAINMENT, written by Informa Telecoms & Media over the last six months, predicts that the global market for mobile entertainment will be worth $42.8 billion by 2010. The report explores the entertainment sectors that are driving growth � including music, gambling, games video and TV, and adult content � and identifies the opportunities, challenges and threats the industry faces if the mobile entertainment market is to reach its full potential. Emerging new markets such as mobile TV, user generated services and personalisation (graphics and visual themes) are forecast to contribute a further $11 billion in reve

Germany Behind in Broadband Revolution

Broadband adoption in Germany trails badly behind the rest of Europe according to �Europe Surges Ahead on Broadband,� the latest research from Strategy Analytics. From the company�s Broadband Media & Communications service this report reveals that Germany has the lowest level of broadband ownership out of 14 European countries. Only 24 percent of German homes will have broadband by the end of 2005, compared to 56 percent in the Netherlands, Europe�s leading broadband market. �Germany�s fragmented and highly-regulated cable industry is a key factor in the constrained growth of broadband,� said Martin Olausson, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics. �With limited competition in Germany, Deutsche Telekom (DTAG) has no real incentive to implement an aggressive growth strategy for broadband.� This report also notes that after the Asia-Pacific market, Europe has now overtaken North America as the second largest broadband market in the world. It also predicts that total broadband household

Handheld Device Market Drops, Again

The worldwide market for handheld devices experienced its sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline in the second quarter of 2005. According to IDC, device shipments decreased 20.8 percent compared to the same quarter one year ago and fell 24.9 percent sequentially in 2Q05 to 1.7 million units. Despite the continued decline of the worldwide handheld device market, device manufacturers clearly remain committed to driving innovation throughout their product portfolios. Acer and Yakumo, for example, have risen to Top 5 shipment levels on strong demand for their GPS solutions. More recently, Palm continues to stretch the definition of a handheld device with the introduction of its LifeDrive mobile manager product. Simultaneously, however, manufacturers are moving to balance these advancements with complementary converged mobile device products in order to provide a full range of options to modern mobile consumers and enterprises. "As an answer to slowing consumer demand and

Time Warner Tests Broadband TV Service

Time Warner Cable has launched a pilot service to allow cable customers with broadband to access cable television channels over their network connection -- The Broadband TV service is currently only available to some 9,000 subscribers in certain parts of San Diego, California. It will allow cable customers with the Road Runner broadband service to view selected channels on a personal computer, without any additional subscription. Basic cable customers will be able to see a limited number of channels, while those with higher levels of service will be able to see up to 75 channels. The Broadband TV service is delivered over the private data network of Time Warner Cable and it is not possible to access the service remotely, or to record programmes. The service currently only supports Windows PCs with Internet Explorer and RealPlayer 10. The trial service will be an interesting test of the attitude of programming suppliers to the delivery of their channels over a data network. It comes as

U.S. Satellite Radio Market Assessment

According to TDG, it was only a few years ago that XM and Sirius were the buzz of the music industry - a new business model capable of challenging the establishment, offering listeners advertising-free content in exchange for a small monthly fee. While the early buzz was impressive, most analysts predicted that satellite radio would never be able to compete with established radio stations and, as such, be lucky to last a few years. Well, XM and Sirius have succeeded in proving the pundits wrong. As of Q2 2005, XM had close to four million subscribers and is predicting 20 million by 2010. In the same period, Sirius reported 1.5 million subscribers and has raised year-end 2005 estimates to 2.7 million, 200,000 more than prior guidance. By year-end 2005, the two companies combined will have almost eight million subscribers, each of which pays around $13 per month to receive music content free of advertising and packaged according to their tastes. While such progress is noteworthy, it only

Senators Want to Expand Telecom Fund

Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., are in the early stages of drafting legislation that would expand the program designed to provide ubiquitous telephone coverage to include high-speed Internet access. Aides to Smith said the bill would make money in the Universal Service Fund available so telecommunications providers could build out broadband facilities. "It would be built into the same structure, and might end up as a stand-alone fund, within the current system next to the high-cost fund," an aide said. USF has four major components: the $3.5 billion high cost fund, which subsidizes phone companies serving rural customers; the $2.25 billion e-rate, which provides Internet access to schools and libraries; the $758 million low income program; and the $25 million rural healthcare fund. Although the e-rate funds Internet access, the high cost fund pays only for narrowband telecom such as telephones -- and not broadband. The high cost fund is subdivided into a

U.S. Consumer Home Video Spending

Consumers spent $24 billion buying and renting DVD and VHS titles in 2004, more than twice as much as they did buying tickets at movie theater box offices, according to the Video Software Dealers Association's (VSDA) 2005 Annual Report. The major studios generated $21 billion from home video in 2004, representing 47 percent of their combined worldwide film revenues. Estimates of consumer spending on used DVDs and videocassettes for 2004 ranged from $658 million to $2 billion. The VSDA said that 73 percent of U.S. households had the capacity to view a DVD by the end of 2004, while VCR penetration declined for the first time during the period. The group also said that 2004 video game rentals totaled $700 million, adding that 53 percent of all games rented were rated "E" (Everyone). Mass merchants had a 50 percent market share of sell-through consumer spending on home video. The top three rental chains (Blockbuster, Hollywood, and Movie Gallery) collected more than 50 percen

Cisco-Linksys to Acquire KISS

Cisco Systems' Linksys division agreed to acquire privately-held KiSS Technology A/S, a developer of networked entertainment devices, for approximately $61 million in cash and stock. KiSS, which is based in Horsholm, Denmark, has a product portfolio that includes home video products such as networked DVD players and networked DVD recorders. KiSS's technology platform also has the capability to extend to other consumer electronics products. KISS recently introduced an IPTV set-top box which is compatible with Windows Media content. The product is already marketed via Denmark�s first broadband TV channel, TV-2 Sputnik, for viewing content over an ADSL connection. The KiSS MediaMate works in both standard-definition and high-definition streaming, and will also be certified to Microsoft�s PlaysForSure program. The MediaMate is equipped with a 802.11g connection. It uses the same chip technology from Sigma Designs as KiSS Technology�s other DVD-players and hard disk recorders.

Texas Telecommunications Bill Revived

A bill that would make it easier for telephone companies to sell cable TV may be put to a vote again in the Texas statehouse this week, revived for the second time since May courtesy of an unrelated stalemate over public school funding. The wide-ranging telecommunications bill, approved by separate House and Senate committees on Thursday, is one of several initiatives in statehouses around the nation and in Congress that would enable phone companies to avoid the arduous task of securing thousands of local cable TV licenses. Those efforts have already stalled in Virginia and New Jersey, two of the states where Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc. are investing billions of dollars to upgrade their local phone networks to deliver TV and faster Internet connections.

China�s 3G License Scenarios

China�s pending 3G license auction continues to hold the mobile community in suspense. The new Pyramid Research report assesses the potential outcomes of the auction and tracks the market opportunity. The new report stipulates that the infrastructure opportunity will be $9 billion for vendors in the 2006-2009 period with 2007 alone generating approximately $4 billion, based on data from Pyramid Research forecasts. Additionally, 3G subscribers are expected to account for 15 percent of China�s mobile market by 2010. Regarding the 3G auction, Pyramid Research expects three nationwide 3G licenses to be awarded with one going to a fixed operator. An interesting scenario discussed in the report assesses the possibility of China Telecom and China Netcom consolidating and offering a nationwide 3G solution. Another scenario examines the possibility of dissolving China Unicom and dispersing its GSM subscriber base to China Telecom and the CDMA network to China Netcom � making way for both a T

Bundling: a Telco Field of Dreams?

According to two new reports issued this week, while operators recognise the need to provide bundled service offerings, they have yet to determine how to change consumer buying habits and generate extra demand. Recent consumer market studies by Yankee Group and In-Stat show that consumers are not used to looking for a bundled service offering and are still most attracted by the lowest price available for a specific service. In-Stat reports that just 14 percent of potential residential customers in the US intend to sign-up for a bundled offering from a single service provider in the next twelve months, prompting a warning that operators need to better understand specific market segments and provide more targeted offerings. Commenting on what she described as �tepid at best� growth potential for bundled services, In-Stat analyst Amy Cravens said, �In order to better capitalise on the bundled opportunity, providers must offer a variety of package choices to match the appropriate services

MVNOs Battle it Out in France

France has long lagged behind its Western European neighbors in mobile penetration because of lower usage of prepaid services. As penetration in Italy and the UK continues to edge above 100 percent, mobile penetration in France as forecasted by Pyramid Research will reach just 78 percent in 2005. To increase penetration, the French regulatory body ART opened mobile operator networks to MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) as an alternative to incumbent operators in France. Recently, several MVNO launch plans were unveiled � NRJ and Coriolis plan to roll out services on SFR�s network, M6 intends to piggyback on Orange�s network whilst Tele2 has already launched services on Orange�s network. So far, the three MVNOs that launched in 2004 � Debitel, Breizh and Universal Music - have not massively threatened the incumbent network operators. We believe that apart from Tele2, the newly announced MVNOs will fuel price erosion but will only make a slight impact on the dominance of the thre

Making Mobile Music Work: SK Telecom

South Korea's largest cellular company, SK Telecom, has provided a mobile music portal service called �MelOn� since the end of 2004. MelOn is the first integrated, wired and wireless, music service that allows users to enjoy music virtually anytime, anywhere using a portable MP3 player, a PC, or a mobile phone. The main MelOn interface is a music download and streaming Internet portal, www.melon.co.kr. The service is akin to a rental service, with users �renting� tracks on a monthly basis for use on various terminals. MelOn users pay a 5000 won (US$4.50) monthly subscription to stream music to a PC or download tracks to their phone as long as their subscription is current. Digital rights management (DRM) wrappers on the music guarantee a subscriber is current, and tracks are erased from the end-user�s library at the end of the subscription period. To download tracks onto the handset, users pay for airtime at regular call rates, regardless of the size of the track. The key to the mo

DVRs to Reach Half of U.S. Homes by 2010

Digital video recorders will be in 47 percent of U.S. homes by 2010, growing their installed base from 7 million households at the end of 2004 to 55 million in five years, according to a report from New York-based JupiterResearch. "While TV networks and their advertisers may get increasingly anxious about DVRs, some constituencies have another perspective. Pay TV operators will see the DVR playing an increasingly strategic role over the next two to three years," said JupiterResearch analyst Todd Chanko. Jupiter also predicts that HDTV monitors will grow from an installed based of 13 million in 2004, to 74 million by 2010. While less than 4 million of current HDTV households were subscribed to an HDTV service at the end of 2004, that number is expected to grow to 69 million by 2010. "Television networks and pay-TV operators alike are unsure of consumer demand for HDTV," said Chanko. "Behind closed doors the executives are still measuring the real costs to produc

Survey: Young Adults Value Mobile Media

Enpocket, a global mobile media company, has unveiled second quarter findings from its flagship survey, the Mobile Media Monitor. This quarterly study helps marketers keep up to speed with the ever-changing patterns of consumer mobile usage. For young adults, the mobile phone is now twice as important to them as the TV, yet only 16 percent have ever seen advertising or marketing on their mobile phone. Participants in the survey were asked which medium they would give up last if they had to choose between TV, newspapers, mobile phone, the internet, radio and magazines. Just 6 percent of 18-24 year olds chose to give up their mobile last compared to 11 percent for radio, 11 percent for magazines, 12 percent for television and 55 percent for newspapers. The Mobile Media Monitor reveals that consumers of all ages have become as loyal to their mobiles as they are to television. When asked which type of media they would give up first if they had to, mobile and television were on equal footin

Wi-Fi VoIP Handset Market Forecast

Worldwide Wi-Fi voice over IP (VoIP) handset revenue totalled $54.7 million in 2004 and the number of units shipped reached 143,000, according to a new report from Infonetics Research. It also predicts strong growth at least through to 2009 as steady adoption of voice over Wi-Fi continues. Infonetics has found that worldwide dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handset revenue hit $6.7 million in 2004, adding that Wi-Fi capability will eventually become a common feature in mobile phones, just as it is becoming standard in laptops today. Although Wi-Fi VoIP handsets represent a small market at present, it has great potential. In logistics and healthcare verticals in particular, voice over wireless local area networks is already gaining momentum and is likely to become widespread throughout the enterprise as VoIP and wireless LAN adoption continue. The Infonetics report suggests that there is potential for enormous growth in the consumer space, as VoIP services and wireless gateways are bundled with

BellSouth Broadband Pricing Structure

BellSouth has simplified its residential "FastAccess" DSL pricing into fewer tiers. The options now include: * New residential customers of FastAccess DSL Lite, which provides downstream speeds up to 256Kbps and upstream speeds up to 128Kbps, can order the service for $24.95 per month. * New FastAccess DSL Ultra customers, who receive downstream speeds up to 1.5Mbps and upstream speeds up to 256Kbps, will receive the service for $32.95 per month. * New customers of FastAccess DSL Xtreme, featuring downstream speeds up to 3Mbps and upstream speeds up to 384Kbps, can order the service for $42.95 per month. In addition, BellSouth will no longer charge residential customers a service activation fee and will reduce the price of its modems and gateways to $75. Shipping and handling charges will be eliminated and customers will be given the option to pay for their modem or gateway in 10 monthly installments of $7.50, or receive it free (after rebate) if they order online.

Hispanics Now Connect with Broadband

About half of all U.S. Hispanics with Internet access now connect through broadband at home, according to a new survey by America Online. The number is on par with that of the general online population, despite the fact that Hispanics are "relatively newer to the Internet," according to AOL. Hispanics go online at home an average of 9.2 hours a week, almost an hour more than the general online population, and 70 percent view the Internet as the best source for comparing prices. Hispanic consumers also are younger, as well as heavier users of Internet features such as music downloading and instant messaging. 56 percent of Hispanics online are between the ages of 18 to 34 vs. 34 percent for the general online population. The survey found they use the Internet far more frequently than the general online population to listen to music (55% vs. 41%), download music files (37% vs. 25%), and for instant messaging (59% vs. 48%). The survey also indicates that 47 percent of online Hisp

Satellite Radio Subscribers Forecast

Satellite radio subscribers will grow in number 46.8 million by 2014, when industry revenue will reach $7.6 billion, according to a forecast from Monterey, California -based Kagan Research. The firm predicts that by 2014, 75 percent of new subscribers will come as a result of satellite radio partnerships with automakers like GM, Ford and Toyota, which now offer factory- and dealer-installed satellite radio receivers. Satellite radio advertising revenues are estimated to reach $27.9 million in 2005, rising to $854.4 million by 2014. Kagan further projected that XM will break even by the third quarter of 2007, while rival Sirius will reach positive cash flow in 2008; by 2014, XM earnings are expected to top $2 billion, while Sirius earnings will hit $1.4 billion.

TiVo Cable TV Strategy Raises Questions

A new report from The Diffusion Group proposes TiVo's new plan to seek "mass deployment" of the TiVo service through cable service providers, while likely to help boost revenue, will do little to generate profit. According to TDG's new report, Can TiVo Survive? A Case Study in the Perils of First-to-Market Innovations, former CEO and co-founder Mike Ramsay warned board members and fellow executives in January 2005 that licensing deals with digital TV operators would not be the best way to grow TiVo's business. In fact, said Ramsay, "...the economics are not very attractive." "A key reason for TiVo's recent shift in leadership was disagreement regarding to what extent TiVo should be courting video service providers," said Scott Kipp, research analyst with The Diffusion Group and author of TDG's latest report. "As DirecTV phases out shipments of TiVo DVRs, TiVo will be forced to come to terms with an increasingly competitive market

Market Leaders of Interactive TV Services

Next-generation television services that focus on interactivity are most likely to find success in Spain, the UK and Japan, with the US ranking sixth in a study that examines the digital readiness of 12 countries for interactive and personalised television services -- Consumers in general exhibited varied levels of interest in targeted television services specific to enhanced communications, personalisation, interactivity, and TV-to-PC convergence. The report suggests that operators planning to deploy IPTV or internet protocol television services will need to take into account the requirements of each region. In Spain, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed showed an interest in at least one key advanced television offering, especially those related to interactive features such as personalised recommendations and voting. In both the UK and Japan, 75 percent showed an inclination towards interactive services. In France and Canada the number was 73 percent, while in the US it was 72 percent

Why iTV Viewers are Not Interacting

A research report reveals that over half the potential users of interactive advertising in the UK are not engaging with interactive TV because there are either too few incentives or they are still daunted by the prospect -- The study shows that those ignoring interactive adverts are also disregarding other interactive services on the Sky platform. The research was based on a telephone survey of 300 viewers who had not interacted with an interactive advertisement in the last year and were unlikely to interact in the next six months. A group of 100 viewers that had interacted and were likely to do so again were also interviewed. The researchers classified viewers into five groups: bitter ad haters, unengaged passives, apprehensive stargazers, unimpressed pragmatists, and dedicated interacters. The �dedicated interacters� make up around a fifth of the available audience, around 3.1 million. However, the �unimpressed pragmatists� feel there is not enough incentive to interact, while the �a

Is Mobile Video a Tough Sell?

With the emerging availability of mobile video, a recent US mobile phone subscriber survey revealed that one in eight respondents indicated they were interested in purchasing mobile video services from their wireless carrier, reports In-Stat. However, two thirds of mobile phone subscribers are not yet ready for video services on their handsets, a number that is nearly unchanged from the previous year's survey, the high-tech market research firm says. "Though mobile video does not yet appear to have widespread appeal, In-Stat believes that there is enough interest for it to generate some significant revenue for carriers in the near term," says David Chamberlain, In-Stat senior analyst. The number of subscribers purchasing mobile video content in the U.S. will increase from an estimated 1.1 million in 2005 to over 30 million in 2010, In-Stat forecasts. However, the most desirable customers (long-term loyal customers who are satisfied with their service and unlikely to churn

EU Gets More Spectrum for Wi-Fi

The European Commission decided to make available a substantially greater amount of radio spectrum in the 5 GHz range throughout the European Union for Wi-Fi. The Commission decision, which is to be implemented by Member States by 31 October 2005, makes two specific frequency bands (5150-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz) available in all Member States for wireless access systems. A large amount of flexibility is provided with respect to what type of service or network topology the technology is used for. The decision also introduces spectrum management approaches, by requiring the application of "intelligent" techniques to protect other radio spectrum users against harmful interference, such as military radar and satellite services. Other major markets, such as Japan and the US, are implementing similar rules for the 5 GHz bands based on- the outcome of the World Radiocommunications Conference 2003. A large market in the EU will encourage other countries to align themselves to the

Broadcast Flag Controversy Explained

In-stat offers perspective on fair use controversy -- "Almost two years ago, the United States Federal Communications Commission approved a regulation called the "Broadcast Flag." The regulation mandated that after July 1, 2005, all consumer electronics devices sold that could receive over-the-air terrestrial television signals must also be able to detect and read "Broadcast Flags." These Broadcast Flags are actually small pieces of software code embedded in a digital terrestrial television stream that can be recognized by consumer electronics products like digital TV sets, PVRs, and even PCs with TV tuner cards. However, this past May the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC lacked the necessary jurisdiction to establish the Broadcast Flag regulation. This ruling effectively stopped the implementation of the Broadcast Flag, and put the future of the content protection initiative in doubt. So what was all the fus

CBS to Launch Broadband News Network

CBS News announced plans to launch 24-hour, multi-platform digital news network, bypassing cable television in favor of broadband distribution. The company said its strategy is to move from a primarily television and radio news-based operation to a 24-hour, on-demand news service, available across many platforms. The new CBSNews.com will feature an on-page video player showcasing the free broadband video, including over 25,000 clips -- and video yet to be broadcast on the network. CBS said its projections indicate that homes connected to broadband will equal or surpass homes serviced by cable and satellite by 2010. "This major expansion of CBSNews.com is designed to capture an audience that is increasingly looking for news and information at all times of the day, not just during scheduled periods, and using the Internet for that purpose," said Larry Kramer, President, CBS Digital Media. The new CBSNews.com site will also feature the debut of "Public Eye," a blog aim

US Mobile Data Market Grows 80 Percent

Data typically forms 6-10 percent of US mobile operators� total revenues. Total messaging traffic is up 59 percent over the last 12 months -- The value of the US mobile data market increased by around 80 percent during the year to March 2005, according to Informa Telecoms & Media�s World Cellular Data Metrics, as interoperability agreements finally helped SMS make a significant impact on the market, which has traditionally lagged behind Europe and Asia. Total revenues from non-voice services for the four largest US mobile operators totaled more than $1.2 billion in Q1 2005, compared to $689 million in the same period of 2004. GSM operator T-Mobile was particularly noteworthy; its subscribers sent a total of 3.6 billion messages during Q1 2005, equivalent to around 67 per subscription per month, more than double the volume 12 Months ago. The operator�s recent launch of bundled SMS packages, including one offering unlimited messages for $15 per month, is sure to drive traffic still h

PanAmSat Targets Video Over WiMAX

PanAmSat is joining forces with KenCast and Trinity Workplace Learning in the US to demonstrate what is claimed as the first satellite-delivered live video to handheld devices. The move positions PanAmSat in a race against Qualcomm and Crown Castle who are planning similar services. This week, PanAmSat demonstrated a live video stream from Trinity's facilities in Dallas, TX uplinked to PanAmSat's Galaxy 11, then encoded and transcoded by Kencast to handheld devices at a Vancouver trade show via WiMAX. "Satellite-delivered WiMAX technology is the future for handheld devices such as smartphones and laptops," said Bruce Haymes, senior vice president, Business Development. "WiMAX will also enable the delivery of IPTV throughout the US as well as being integrated into our satellite news gathering or SNG services. We are very excited to show the possibilities of WiMAX on our Galaxy 11 satellite." The demonstration provided live delivery of 10 streaming video chann

Brand Owners Move into Mobile Services

Third party providers are currently receiving less than 30 percent of mobile service revenues globally according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media. Traditionally the mobile network operator has controlled the billing relationship with the customer, and has played a leading role in partnering with content providers. Now however, this picture is evolving as brand owners and media companies start to leverage the consumer base they have developed through consistent marketing investment and branding over the years. Increasingly the strength of the media company's content and its associated brand are seen as decisive factors in bringing a mobile offering to market. The report reveals that there are a number of issues that are creating a more favourable environment for third party content providers. These include: Mobile network operators opening up their content portfolios Increased acceptance by consumers of subscription packages Strong brands driving consumers to searc

More Broadband, Digital and Mobile in UK

The latest figures from U.K. communications watchdog Ofcom show a dramatic increase in the adoption of digital technology in the U.K. -- Ofcom's second-annual Communications Market report found that more than 60 percent of U.K. households now have digital TV, while sales of DAB radio sets increased to more than 1.5 million early this year. Each month, approximately 250,000 households switch to digital TV, a boom driven by Freeview, which has increased its total subscriber numbers to more than 4.6 million households. For the first time ever, more households (30 percent) have broadband connections than dial-up Internet, leading the regulator to predict that, by the year 2010, more people will watch TV on the Internet than on analog TV. "This report shows that U.K. households are now accelerating into the digital age," said Ofcom's Ed Richards. "In parallel, industries formed over decades are being reshaped by digital broadcasting and broadband with every month tha

Service Provider WAN Equipment Forecast

Service provider CapEx spending made a nice rebound in 2004 with worldwide spending totaling $207 billion, indicating a brighter future for the service provider WAN equipment market, reports In-Stat. Service provider CapEx budgets will continue to grow moderately over the next five years, as wireline service providers invest in new triple-play and converged MPLS networks, and wireless service providers build new 3G infrastructure, the high-tech market research firm says. Worldwide service provider CapEx budgets are forecast to reach $278 billion in 2009. "In-Stat forecasts particularly strong growth in sales of packet telephony media gateways and softswitches, core and edge routers, WiMAX base transceiver stations, and teledatacom servers, in 2005," says Henry Goldberg, In-Stat analyst. "Sales of multiservice switches, optical transport equipment, and DSLAMs should also grow." The largest component of worldwide WAN equipment sales in 2004 was mobile wireless infrast

Consensus on European i2010 Strategy

Major European ICT and media companies including British Telecom, Tele2 and Vivendi Universal have moved in behind the European Commission's i2010 strategy, backing efforts to create a unified regional regulatory framework and pledging to work together to maximise the opportunities of new technology for the community. Following a meeting with the EC this week to discuss how to give a spur to Europe's emerging digital economy, ten industry leaders said that they would support the basic principals of i2010, which calls for "completion of the internal market for electronic communications and media services, for a more modern and flexible legal framework for audiovisual content, for efficient and interoperable digital rights management and for strengthening investment in ICT." The strategy, unveiled by EC information society commissioner Viviane Reding last month, sets a roadmap for ensuring European Union citizens receive the full benefits of new technologies such as 3G,

Subsidies Hinder Broadband Penetration

"Universal service subsidies and other state-based support schemes do not help broadband penetration rates in rural areas, according to one of the first studies of empirical results of the effectiveness of such schemes. In a report that will be seized on by critics of government subsidy and competition policies, the AEI-Brookings Joint Centre for Regulatory Studies undertook a study that mapped broadband penetration across the US measured against various federal and state-based policies governing rights-of-way, unbundling, subsidies and direct municipal network provision. The study found that universal service mechanisms and programs targeted at underserved areas do not boost broadband penetration and may even slow it, possibly by giving an artificial advantage to one type of provider or another. Likewise, tax incentives appear to have no impact. It also concluded that laws limiting municipal deployment of broadband are not statistically correlated with broadband penetration; tha

Intel's Online Film Distribution Partnership

Intel is forming a new digital entertainment company focused on distributing premium movies directly to consumers over the Internet. The new ClickStar venture is partnership between Intel, actor Morgan Freeman and producer Lori McCreary. The service will let consumers access, pay for and download first-run, pre-DVD-release films and artist-created entertainment channels over the Internet to Intel�s digital home entertainment devices. ClickStar will be led by former Sony Pictures executive Nizar Allibhoy. The company said it is working with top artists, producers and distribution companies worldwide to build a compelling slate of exciting films that will be available in theaters as well as online. Freeman and McCreary's current venture describes itself as "Revelations Entertainment develops and produces commercially successful entertainment in all existing and emerging media that endeavors to enlighten, express heart and glorify the human experience." A creative compilati

Softbank Deploys mVision IPTV System

Softbank BB has deployed UTStarcom's mVision end-to-end IPTV system to support its new BBTV IPTV service, which launched on July 1. The service initially offers subscribers 28 channels of live broadcast television and 5,200 movies on demand. Softbank BB's triple play service will be available in several service tiers, with pricing starting at 4540 Yen, approximately US$40.00 per month. UTStarcom's mVision system is a unicast/multicast distributed system that scales to support millions of users and hundreds of thousands of content hours. It supports services such as broadcast TV, Network PVR (n-PVR), Video on Demand (VoD), and Near Video on Demand (NVoD). In addition to UTStarcom's mVision system, Softbank is using the company's IP DSLAM and Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GEPON) solutions serve as the access and transport platforms for its DSL, VoIP and IPTV services. As of May 2005, Softbank's Yahoo! BB was serving 4,847,000 broadband lines and had 4

Nickelodeon Launches Free Broadband VOD

Viacom's Nickelodeon children's cable TV network announced the launch of TurboNick, a broadband video service on Nick.com that will offer full-length episodes of TV shows. The free, ad-supported service will offer shows like "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Fairly OddParents," "Zoey 101," "Ren & Stimpy" and "Double Dare" -- in addition to video-on-demand shows for parents and shorter clips for younger children. TurboNick has already garnered over 1.25 million streams since a soft launch on July 1, and is scheduled to officially launch on July 17. TurboNick features up to 20 hours of new programming every week, allowing kids to watch programming clips and full length episodes ranging from 30 seconds to 22 minutes in length, including occasional world premieres of new series beginning with the animated program Catscratch. TurboNick is organized by six separate areas, each containing up to five different series with two or more e

Glasgow, Scotland Utilizes Broadband TV

According to In-Stat, the city of Glasgow, Scotland, is in the world news because of last week's meeting of global heads of state, but the city has other reasons to "crow." Glasgow is known as a city with a proactive approach to growth, and they are making innovative investments to raise awareness and attract visitors from around the world. They've become the first city to launch a 24-hour TV service that delivers a wide range of features and prerecorded "Content" to anyone with a broadband Internet connection and can play Windows Media. The site is becoming a destination not only for people who are interested in all things Scottish, but also as an example of how the broadband Internet is changing the concept of Television. Normally, it takes a full-time staff of dozens of technicians, producers, directors and talent to create a TV channel and keep it on-the-air around the clock. But Glasgow TV uses low-cost, off-the-shelf technology and local volunteers vid

BT Plans Broadband Television Recorder

"Further details have emerged on plans by BT for its proposed broadband television service, now aiming to launch next summer, promising the ability to catch up with television programmes from the previous week. BT will offer a hybrid broadband and broadcast system, combining a digital terrestrial television receiver with an Ethernet network connection. Industry reports suggest that it will include an electronic programme guide featuring programmes for fourteen days in advance and seven days previous. Digital terrestrial transmissions currently carry details of programmes for the next week, in fact up to 8 days ahead, although schedules are published for two weeks in advance. The ability to go back in time by up to a week is seen as the killer application, using a network based video-on-demand system. Video Networks, which operates the HomeChoice service in the London area, already offers the ability to catch-up on particular programmes. Cable operator Telewest is planning a simil

Retail VoIP More Than Doubles in 9 Months

Point Topic estimates that over 11 million people were using a retail voice over IP (VoIP) service for at least some of their telephone calls at the end of March 2005. That�s an increase from just over 5 million at mid-2004 according to Point Topic research published in December 2004 and the Point Topic VoIP Application Source profiles in Broadband Money Makers. This number is based on a total of publicly available figures for VoIP subscribers, combined with estimates where subscriber numbers were not available. Many of these estimates are based on a conservative 10 percent growth from Q4 2004 to Q1 2005. The total does not include PC-based soft-client services like Skype and VoiceGlo. Of these 11 million, well over half, 7.2 million, are in Japan. Yahoo Softbank provides the majority of these services, and they come bundled with the broadband subscription. Users need to retain their standard line and pay line rental. This is a common feature with VoIP services, often driven by regula

Adoption of Bundled Services on the Rise

According to In-Stat, adoption of bundled services is on the rise. Research shows that over the past year, adoption of bundled services has jumped from one-third of respondents in 2004 to nearly half of respondents in 2005. While, according to the 2004 survey, just under one-third of respondents subscribed to bundled services, by 2005, this has increased over 15 percentage points. Of the survey respondents, 47 percent indicated that they do purchase more than one service from a single provider. Furthermore, of those that do buy multiple services from a single provider, over one-third of those respondents are purchasing multiple service bundles, from two or more providers. Nearly half of respondents to In-Stat's Consumer Internet Survey purchased some type of telecommunication service bundle, defined for the purpose of this report as purchasing multiple services (two or more) from a single provider. Increasing rates of multiple service subscriptions present a growing opportunity fo

Digital Terrestrial TV STB Forecast

The worldwide retail value of all Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) Set Top Boxes (STBs) will "blast off" during 2006, and power drive up to more than $10 Billion during 2009, reports In-Stat. In a surprising twist, Australia currently leads the world for consumption of High Definition TV (HDTV) Digital Terrestrial Set Top boxes, with North America running in second place. Europe has been the unit shipment and market value leader for several years, and is poised to become the long-term dominating force if the 2006 World Cup Football matches drive strong uptake for new Digital Terrestrial products. Japan and China have emerging markets for DTT STBs that support High Definition. The study also found a greater number of countries are turning on local Digital Terrestrial TV broadcasts, and this trend is beginning to accelerate. In the U.S., US Digital TV (USDTV) is tying together the bit streams of up to six local Digital Terrestrial TV stations, and offering a low-cost alternative t

TiVo Facing Identity Crisis

A new report from The Diffusion Group (TDG) suggests that as DirecTV phases out shipments of TiVo DVRs -- a relationship that accounted for 70 percent of TiVo units sold in 2004 but will account for less than 5 percent of unit shipments by 2007 -- TiVo will be forced to come to terms with an increasingly competitive market flooded by free DVRs from video service providers. TDG argues that though TiVo will look to new cable and satellite relationships to fill the gap, these dealings will generate far too little revenue to sustain the company for the long-term. "TiVo's new president and CEO, Tom Rogers, will face many challenges as he leads TiVo into its post-DirecTV chapter," said Scott Kipp, author of the report and a contributing analyst. "Service provider relationships will no doubt be the company's initial panacea, but while such relationships may be cause for short-term optimism, their ability to contribute significantly to the Company's bottom line is li

WCDMA Rates Forcing Technology Upgrades

The failing of WCDMA to deliver the true 3G experience has forced the industry to push ahead earlier than expected with the implementation of HSDPA and HSUPA. The knock-on effect is that this has left a void between 3.5G(HSDPA/HSUPA) and what will become 4G and the need to plug that gap is now apparent. �There is concern within the leading wireless operators and manufacturers that the mass market take-up of mobile triple play could cause havoc on existing infrastructure if they do not act today,� said report author, Nick Lane. �WCDMA has been nothing short of a disappointment. Though HSDPA will deliver true 3G applications, if these high-speed services are adopted by consumers in significant numbers, HSDPA networks will become congested. The need to progress the wireless networks is here today.� As HSDPA implementation commences in during 2005 and throughout 2006, followed by HSUPA in late-2006 to 2007, the world�s leading mobile operators and manufacturers are already casting doubts o

DOJ Raids Internet Piracy Sites in 11 Countries

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has launched "Operation Site Down," conducting some 90 searches in 11 countries and arresting several people suspected of running Internet piracy sites where users could download movies, music and software for free. The government said its actions targeted "warez" piracy groups including RiSCISO, Myth, TDA, LND, Goodfellaz, Hoodlum, Vengeance, Centropy, Wasted Time, Paranoid, Corrupt, Gamerz, AdmitONE, Hellbound, KGS, BBX, KHG, NOX, NFR, CDZ, TUN and BHP -- resulting in seizure of hundreds of computers and the shut down of at least eight major file-sharing servers. The Department of Justice estimated the sites offered movies, software and other content valued at over $50 million, including the recently released Star Wars film. "Our objective in this operation was to find and dismantle large-scale criminal enterprises that illegally obtain, copy, distribute, and trade in copyrighted software, music, movies, and vi

BBC Provides Schedules in TV-Anytime Format

The BBC is making daily programme schedule information available in TV-Anytime format as part of an experimental trial service. The data set provides details of programmes for a seven day period and is currently updated as a daily snapshot, rather than a realtime feed. The data will initially be available for three months and usage is limited to non-commercial purposes. The pilot is being provided as one of the data services on the BBC Backstage web site, which provides data, resources and support for users who wish to build prototypes and proofs of concepts using BBC material. The result of over five years of development by the TV-Anytime Forum, the TV-Anytime specifications provide standards for the rich description of radio and television programmes for use in products such as digital video recorders. The TV-Anytime specification can be downloaded from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute as TS102822. Also, after more than two years of work by the "Registration T

Sling Media Launches Slingbox

Sling Media has finally launched their much anticipated Slingbox that allows users to access their home television service from anywhere in the world -- The Slingbox enables consumers to watch their own satellite, terrestrial or cable television service or personal video recorder programming, using any internet-connected Windows XP laptop or desktop personal computer. Aiming to provide access to television anywhere, anytime, the Slingbox device allows users to placeshift their viewing, in addition to the timeshift possible with a digital video recorder. The Slingbox is a distinctively designed, brick-shaped product that is simply connected to an existing video source in the home and a home network router. The Slingbox redirects a single stream of audio and video to a personal computer running the SlingPlayer software application. The remote player could be anywhere in the home, or, with a broadband internet connection, anywhere in the world. �The Slingbox clearly defines a new era fo

Telefonica Launches TV Over Mobile Trial

"Leading mobile operator Telefonica Moviles has commenced a trial service of TV over mobiles in its home country of Spain. Working with local service provider Abertis Telecom and equipment vendor Nokia, Telefonica will trial the use of DVB-H technology in Madrid and Barcelona between September and February next year. The test will conclude at the closing ceremony of the relocated 3GSM World Congress. The project, which is backed by major Spanish regional and local broadcast channels, is first of its kind to take place in Spain. 500 users from Madrid and Barcelona will be able to watch broadcast TV content from Antena 3, Sogecable, Telecinco, Telemadrid, TVE and TV3 on specially equipped Nokia 7710 smartphones. They will also have the opportunity to take part in program related interactive services while watching TV. The first technical pilots prior to the actual consumer pilot will start in June 2005. The consumer pilot will allow the three companies to test the feasibility of DVB

Strategies for Successful IPTV Roll Out

As the IPTV market heats up, and as solutions vendors position themselves to leverage market expansion, service operators must evaluate the long-term implications of initial vendor selection. According to TDG's latest report, Evaluating IPTV Vendor Strategies, early vendor decisions will have substantial impact on the scalability and openness of systems well beyond initial deployment. Whether selecting an end-to-end solution that promises to cover all the bases, or using components from multiple vendors, service operators looking to IPTV to complete triple-play offering should think long-term when selecting vendor partners for initial IPTV service deployments. "A number of recent announcements have served to illustrate the importance of initial vendor selection in rolling out IPTV services in a seamless fashion," said Herv� Utheza, director of IPTV research at The Diffusion Group. "Telstra, Swisscom, and SBC have all delayed their IPTV service rollouts due to techni

Fixed-Mobile Convergence Forecast

According to Strategy Analytics, the strong evolution of cellular-only markets will dramatically slow the global adoption of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). By 2010 there will be 500 million cellular-only users generating three times the voice revenues of their FMC counterparts. With major carriers such as BT, Korea Telecom and BellSouth deploying FMC services, convergence is back on the agenda and the specter of WiFi or Bluetooth destabilizing in-building cellular revenue flows again looms large. However, handset prices and availability will represent the biggest barrier to FMC adoption. "The 'voice goes mobile' mantra of the cellular industry is now a reality rather than a mission statement." comments David Kerr, Vice President, Strategy Analytics' Global Wireless Practice. "Cellular already accounts for 60 percent of the world's access lines, one third of all voice minutes and one half of all voice revenues, with 10 percent of homes relying on only a m

Belgacom Launches IPTV Services

Belgacom announced the commercial launch of digital TV services over its ADSL network. Belgacom's business model is to rent the set-top box and remote control for EUR 6 per month, provide free access to dozens of channels including the country's top stations, and charge extra for VOD and sports programming. Siemens provided the end-to-end solution, based on the Surpass Home Entertainment concept. Belgacom said its key differentiators would be better digital image and sound quality, exclusive and more interesting content, and an Electronic Program Guide that lets viewers tailor their content choices. In the near future, Belgacom will offer PVR capabilities and the onscreen surfing capabilities. Belgacom TV, which is initially available to about half the population of Belgium, offers 55 channels, available free of charge at the launch. The VOD catalog will include thousands of films. Belgacom will also be offering a number of sports programming packages, including upcoming footba

New Consoles to Spur Video Game Sales

The release of next-generation video game consoles will spur interactive entertainment software sales from $18 billion in 2004 to $26 billion in 2010, according to a forecast from San Diego-based market research firm DFC Intelligence. While the firm believes Sony's PlayStation 3 will maintain the company's lead in the market, DFC predicts that Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's "Revolution" will increase the company's respective market shares. "The next generation of console systems will connect to broadband networks right out of the box and this should significantly expand revenue possibilities," said DFC president David Cole. "With a true worldwide marketplace and increasing ownership of multiple systems, this is not a winner take all situation. Instead it is about how profits can be maximized across the unique installed base of different console, portable, PC and location-based platforms."