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IPTV Consolidation Will Require Standards

A continuing series of acquisitions in the IP video market will ultimately result in a smaller number of vendors providing all-encompassing IP network solutions including video infrastructure. These companies will not only focus on the network aspect of video solutions, but will also move into the home with CPE and even home networking technologies. The business model assumption for this small group of vendors will be that operators would prefer to work with a single company that can provide all of their needs rather than picking and choosing equipment from multiple smaller vendors.

According to Michael Arden, ABI Research's Principal Analyst, the IPTV market was initially dominated by start-ups on the cutting edge of technology. "As the technology has become more mainstream and IPTV subscriber numbers have increased," he says, "established equipment vendors have begun to enter the fray � often by acquiring the pioneering start-ups that once controlled the industry."

Recent M&A announcements in this space include Cisco's acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, Motorola's plans to acquire Kreatel, Tandberg's planned purchase of SkyStream, and Thomson's announced intent to buy Thales. Other newer players, that may also be looking to acquire or partner IPTV specialists, include HP, IBM, Nortel and Lucent.

What companies might be in their crosshairs? Orca Interactive, Kasenna, Bitband, Optibase, 2Wire, and Entone are all attractive targets for acquisition. Most of them have relationships with system vendors, and have established notable presences in the telco TV market.

However, warns Arden, this business model � end-to-end IPTV offerings � will risk the creation of closed networks. "Broader movements in the telecommunications industry, such as the adoption of Advanced TCA, OpenCable standards, and home-networking standards like MOCA, indicate that all players are well aware of the benefits of standardization; so standards organizations will need to take action to ensure that all vendors converge their respective technologies into standard platforms."

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