Switzerland’s Broadband Battle

IEEE Spectrum writes that “Switzerland is an unlikely front in the ongoing war between telephone carriers and cable providers.” It also has a discussion on Microsoft’s IPTV.

Indeed, the key weapon on which the Battle of Switzerland will turn, a software platform called Internet Protocol television, or IPTV, is already being evaluated in research labs in India, Canada, the United States, and Italy.

But only in otherwise placid Switzerland has IPTV been put into living rooms as well. Swisscom’s trial is the most serious test anywhere of a phone company’s ability to deliver video and win customers from cable. In other words, only in the land of civility are customers being told to choose between a cable provider and a telephone carrier for what is the most revenue-intensive mode of communications we have: television. Hanging in the balance is the future direction of the telecommunications industry, and that of a big chunk of the entertainment world as well.

For Microsoft Corp., the Redmond, Wash., company behind IPTV, getting a foothold in the production and distribution of digital audio and video is critical to escaping the confines of the personal computer software world it dominates. There are other ways of delivering video across the Internet than IPTV, and there’s at least one other equally adept encoding scheme, MPEG-4, but only Microsoft has written a single software suite that has everything a phone company needs to get into the television game.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.