IPTV standards work making significant strides

QUANTUM LEAPS IN technology adoption of new services are rare. But the news that IPTV subscribers worldwide had now topped 21mn, reflecting a growth of 45 per cent across 2008, comes into this category and this could be just the right time for operators across Africa to start to embrace this growing application.
Best estimates of IPTV in Africa today put the figure at only a few thousand customers, although broadband penetration, on which IPTV depends, showed a healthy 4.75 per cent growth for 2008, across Africa and the Middle East. Initiatives such as the launch of Backspace Communications’ IPTV solution-in-a-box, known as IPTV Power Plant, last December is typical of how vendors are looking to kick-start IPTV services in the region. Maroc Telecom, the incumbent operator in Morocco, is today the leading IPTV player in Africa. It reported 10,000 IPTV subscribers at the end of 2008 (www.iam.ma/fichiers/MarocTelecom-Revenues-08-VA.pdf). This is out of a total broadband subscriber base of 482,000.
‘The other key African market to watch is South Africa, although full services have not yet been deployed,’ according to John Bosnell, Senior Analyst at Point Topic. He added that in South Africa, ISP Goal Technology (GTS) has started providing on-demand services over IPTV as a challenge to existing satellite operators. Mr. Bosnell pointed out that, with over half a million DSL subscribers, there is significant potential for IPTV in South Africa if bandwidth, content licencing and regulatory issues can be resolved.
The good news for African operators is that many of the original quality of service (QoS) issues around IPTV adoption have now been resolved and the Broadband Forum continues to champion specifications work across IPTV delivery platforms.


A tremendous opportunity
IPTV represents a tremendous opportunity for service providers to deliver a truly personalised service experience to their customers. However, critical to success is an end-to-end architecture that supports high bandwidth, multi-cast group management, dynamic policy-driven resource control, subscriber management and home networking. Also needed are continuous monitoring and service assurance, ensuring the subscribers’ quality of experience is exceptional.
Much of the work of our membership, which spans more than 200 leading operators and vendors across the world, has focused on these issues and our efforts so far have been focused on the following key areas:-
• Access Bandwidth – New very high speed broadband options (ADSL2plus/VDSL2), DSL bonding and PON solutions
• Multicast and VLAN Management – IGMP group management and support for multiple VLAN models.
• Admission Control and QoS – Real-time topology and bandwidth awareness, providing the ability to dynamically reallocate resources to support IPTV service requests; ensuring bandwidth and QoS characteristics.
• Home networking – Automated set top box (STB) recognition, provisioning, remote management and self diagnostics.
• Quality of Experience – Measuring/monitoring the subscriber experience, providing integrated feedback loop for real-time corrections.
All this activity is encapsulated into the latest release of the Forum’s BroadbandSuite 3.0.
The key capabilities of this release include triple-play augmented via GPON and bonded DSL over a QoS-enabled architecture; full support for multicast to IPTV streaming and integrated remote management of set-top-boxes (STB) and attached storage devices. It also provides the specifications required to successfully remotely manage the multimedia home network – a vital role in saving operator costs out in the field as well as improving customer loyalty. &

To get more information, please check out www.broadband-forum.org.

Robin Mersh, Chief Operating Officer, Broadband Forum

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