TelcoTV Report: IPTV Hoping for a Big 2009

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Written by Nate D’Amico.

At last week’s TelcoTV event, the hot topics were convergence of media, triple-screen plays, and how consumers’ behaviors regarding digital content are evolving at a rapid pace. Strolling through the exhibit hall, I saw some great demos, such as Entone’s Janus set-top box, Nortel and RCDB’s Blu-ray setup, and Minerva’s updated middleware platform with a new widget framework for set-top boxes.

The big duo, AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s VZ), were both present, each with their own keynote speaker. AT&T talked up its 780,000 subscribers to its U-verse service and said it expects to surpass the 1 million mark going into 2009. Verizon talked up FiOS and said it sees great opportunity in future services to be rolled out to its customers given the superior down/upstream capabilities fiber to the home provides.

One of the big takeaways from the event is that interactive television seems positioned for rapid growth. The majority of the crowd represented rural telcos, which across the board average only a few thousand subscribers each. These smaller players, who can’t operate at the same capacity as an AT&T or Verizon, see IPTV as the way toward bundled services to fend off the cable providers whose roll-out of voice service is encroaching on their territory.

As IPTV and cable providers roll out updated set-top boxes, content providers will be armed with the tools necessary to develop more interactive programming. Currently, interactive TV collectively is in the Web 2.0 mashup state (like the Fickr integration provided in the U-verse service). There were lots of demos in the exhibit hall showing TV widgets that get news, weather, sports, stock information from Yahoo (s YHOO), ESPN and other data providers. This will evolve over the next couple years as more advanced interactive experiences, including gaming and efforts like those Verizon is undertaking, become easier to deploy.

Nate D’Amico works with telecommunications providers on implementing SaaS solutions for their business and consumer customers. He has also written for our sister site OStatic.

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