TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: PCCW

Om Malik wrote last July about the early lead that Asia has had in IPTV. South East Asia region is the current leader in IPTV adoption, with seven out of 13 countries already having rolled out some sort of service including PCCWs NOW, which is the largest IPTV deployment in the world, and accounts for one third of the total global IPTV subscribers. According to Gartner, the number of IPTV subscribers in these countries will double by end of 2005. One of the reasons why IPTV has been quick to take-off in Asia is because of the vailability of new broadband networks that can support higher speed flavors of DSL. The population densities in most Asian cities, and the short distance to central offices is the main reason why you have seen higher deployment of DSL/Broadband in that part of the world. Second reason there are no legacy cable networks, and people want to see TV.

An early success has been PCCWs NOW Service. PCCW is the largest telco in Hong Kong. The Economist wrote in March:

[PCCW] launched a television service over broadband phone lines, called Now Broadband TV, that has been a huge commercial success. It could soon dethrone the local cable-TV firm as the dominant provider of pay-TV services. It is also the largest television-over-broadband deployment in the world. As they worry about the encroachment of new competitors on to their turf and search for new sources of revenue, telecoms operators the world over hope to follow Nows example.

The combination of security and feedback convinced content providers to agree to an la carte model, in which Now subscribers can choose whether or not to subscribe to each individual channel, rather than being forced to pay for a whole bundle. This was much more flexible than the rival offering from the incumbent cable-TV firm. Now started with ten free channels, and allowed subscribers to choose which additional channels, if any, to pay for on top. Viewers can even sign up for new channels on-screen.

Now also took the unusual step of developing its own set-top box, based on a stripped-down DVD player and produced very cheaply in China. This enabled it to begin its service without waiting for industry standards to emerge. It offered the box free of charge to broadband customers, 93% of whom now take the TV service as well. As its subscriber base grewit exceeds 500,000, or more than 40% of the marketNow was able to poach valuable content, such as sports rights and film channels, from rival pay-TV operators.

So, what does all this mean for India?

Tomorrow: The Indian Opportunity

TECH TALK Video on the Internet+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.