Regulatory roadblocks worry IPTV industry

Regulations and customer understanding are the two biggest barriers to the success of IPTV (Internet Protocol television), say operators, content providers and vendors that participated in a survey done by the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. and Accenture Ltd.

Even though they vary widely by region, regulations present the largest worry in the IPTV market, according to the study released last month that surveyed 300 executives worldwide. The ‘Net neutrality debate in the U.S. and regulations that bar telecommunications operators from offering IPTV in some Asia-Pacific countries could slow down the deployment of services, said Ray Dogra, global IPTV lead at Accenture. Operators around the world are testing, and in some cases commercially offering, television programming delivered over broadband connections, a service known as IPTV. In Canada, this includes the usual suspects such as Bell and Telus. The technology allows companies like telecommunications operators to enter the television market and enables services such as video on demand.

Customer understanding, standardization issues and marketing and pricing also ranked high among areas of concern in the IPTV survey. Accenture’s Dogra, however, noted that marketing and pricing “are things that should be in an operator’s control to influence the adoption curve.”

One aspect that didn’t appear on the list of concerns was technology, indicating that the IPTV market is generally confident that the technology behind IPTV is developed and ready, he said.

The survey also found that respondents expect that IPTV will begin to generate significant revenue in three years. Experts note that there is widespread potential for IPTV in the enterprise; an IP/MPLS base leaves the network infrastructure open to accommodate any new services and applications that might come around. Juniper recently announced several products around IPTV and touted the security and open networks model around the technology.

The vendor unveiled its Open IPTV and Multiplay Initiative, which feature an open applications programming interface to Junipers SDX-300 Service Deployment System that allows content and service providers to develop IPTV programming.

Frank Vitagliano, vice-president of worldwide channels for Juniper, said that currently, the uptake is in the residential and to a lesser extent in the small enterprise space.

Building networks that support multi-play services is the direction the industry is heading right now, he said.

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