20 Aug 2008

Looking forward to hearing more on IPTV from carriers in CEE and Latin America

I read a Telecom Asia piece on the train into London this morning, which mulls over the idea of whether IPTV poses more questions than it currently offers answers. The writer asks whether it is "a rewarding new category, like SMS, or a dazzling non-event like the videophone? Is it more vendor snake oil, or an important new product? Is it purely defensive or will it one day deliver real income? Will it be overtaken by YouTube and online TV? Does IPTV even matter?"

I am not close enough to the discussion to presume to offer any answers of my own here, but I'm looking forward to my team and I gleaning the views of telcos on two continents next month. The first opportunity to do so will be my own trip to Rio de Janeiro to host our annual Americas Com conference and exhibition, 9-10 September. Later the same month, we're hosting the CEE Com event in Prague (17-18 September). At both conferences, we expect there to be a lot of talk around IPTV. In both cases we've made the effort to confirm the participation of triple-players from the cable space as well as telco carriers rolling out IPTV services.

We ran the Latin America event under the 'GSM Americas' banner for more than a decade, taking full advantage of the regional boom in mobile services and the tech vendors' desire to assembe big crowds of cellular carrier execs under one roof on an annual basis. For reasons I discussed last week, we've felt for a while now that it's imperative for us to broaden the appeal, bringing on board representatives of the purely wireline businesses, execs from integrated operators (i.e. with both fixed line and mobile network assets/services) whose brief covers the whole business - as well as our loyal crowd of MNO people. Certainly in terms of signing up a speaker panel that reflects this diversity, we have been successful. So as well as hearing from MNOs such as Movistar Chile, Claro Brasil, Iusacell and Ancel, delegates will draw lessons from wireline businesses such as Ecuador's ETAPA, Colombia's ETB Telecom and Bolivian telecoms co-ops COTEL and COTECO.

Not a day passes without my receiving more news of IPTV licensing wrangles around South America. So I am pleased that a number of the presentations in Rio will bear down on the business models, technology choices, regulatory enablers/inhibitors and more. Notable talks focused on this area will come from Mexico's Alestra and a cabler from that country, Cablecom.

In Prague, we've dedicted a good chunk of both conference days to discussing IPTV and telco-media convergence more broadly. Speakers addressing these themes will include:

Forced to choose between attending the Rio and Prague events, I have had to book my ticket for Brazil for entirely sensible business reasons. Cynical readers might think that I am ducking out the European autumn just to enjoy a few days of the South America spring. The thought never crossed my mind. None of the pictures I plan to post here from Rio will be of beaches or tourist sites, I promise. I shall only show you images of a packed conference room and exhibition area.