When we normally think of Switzerland, we think of quiet valleys, snow capped peaks, skiing, murky world of private banking, Frank Quattrone’s former bosses and of course cheese. But we never think of the tiny landlocked nation as a battleground that will define the future of broadband. On one side is 152-year old Swisscom, which has never faced any real competition in its entire life, backed by Silicon Valley giants like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Thomson. It wants to sell television, along with voice and data services.
Its opponent is Cablecom, Switzerland’s largest cable provider which is slowly but surely moving into the Internet Voice business, hurting Swisscom where it hurts the most. This sounds familiar to one and all, but what makes Switzerland most interesting is the fact that it is the only place where Microsoft’s IPTV is being tested aggressively by real life consumers.
Swiss being a careful lot, are worried that the Microsoft-based set top boxes are going to crash. They were buggy in the labs as recently as August. There are other problems – the viewers cannot watch different shows on two televisions, at least not yet. There are not as many channels on the offer. Still the battle has begun, and if it works, then Microsoft stands to reap billions. If it doesn’t, then its back to the drawing board for Gates & Company, as they try and extend their dominance beyond the PC. (Full story at IEEE Spectrum)