Is there an IPTV boom in the making?

After many delays, Swiss phone incumbent, Swisscom finally launched a rudimentary form of their Microsoft-based IPTV system. Bluewin TV, as it is called is promises 100-plus TV channels, 70 radio channels, and a whole slew of services. Of course if you are using the service over ADSL, then you can watch one channel and record one program at a time. Switzerland is the latest among a growing number of countries where IPTV is taking baby steps.

If not today, then sometime soon, the IPTV will become a big business. The incumbent telecom operators worldwide are investing heavily in IPTV business. Infonetics Research, a Campbell, Calif.-based research firm forecasts that there will be 68.9 million IPTV subscribers by 2009.

Most if not all are going to be outside of the US. Despite its best efforts, the AT&T Project Lightspeed will not be available to all its customers for a few years. It will be available in 15 cities by end of 2006, below AT&T’s own forecast of between 16-to-20 cities. Nevertheless, despite the timing debate, AT&T will go forth with its plans.

Outside the US, there is no tentativeness about IPTV. Countries like India and China, which have little or poor cable infrastructure are embracing IPTV, and so are European Union members. So far, the big growth in subscribers and revenues is coming overseas, especially in Europe.

With ADSL2/2+ and VDSL catching on, expect Asia to become the hot bed of IPTV activity. This is creating an equipment boom, with sales going from $371 million in 2005 to $6.8 billion in 2009.

“IPTV is still in the ‘kick the tire’ phase, with service providers doing trials rather than mass deployments, but there’s no question that IPTV is going mainstream,” Jeff Heynen, an analyst with Infonetics Research said in a news release.

Heyen’s comment, and the hockey stick nature of the accompanying chart makes me highly suspect of all IPTV subscriber forecasts, and it might be a while before the projections are met. Sort of like what happened in case of e-commerce projections ;-)
Infonetics forecasts that the “number of IP set top boxes (STBs) sold worldwide will nearly triple between 2006 and 2007, led by China-based Yuxing InfoTech and UK-based Amino Communications.” How long before one of the two gets taken out, by say a Cisco?

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