IPTV the next market for telecoms operators
Sector sees robust growth as technology allows users access to TV content anytime, anywhere
Internet protocol television (IPTV) may help telecommunications operators transform from traditional telephone service providers to multimedia content suppliers, industry experts say.
IPTV is a system through which television content is delivered using the internet, instead of a terrestrial signal or cable. It is more interactive and allows users greater programming flexibility.
"IPTV has been developing fast since 2005," said Chu Yanli, an international IPTV director for telecommunications equipment and systems company ZTE.
The robust growth was due to the enthusiastic support for the technology from telecommunications carriers, which saw it as a way to expand their services without major additional infrastructure investments.
"TV content can be delivered by the existing internet networks and people with access to the internet will be able to watch the programmes at any time they choose, on any terminals," said Chu.
ZTE assists telecommunications operators in offering television content and data services using the technology.
ZTE is the world's fifth-largest telecommunications equipment supplier and the No2 player in the IPTV industry globally by market share, Chu said. "We have 12 million active users," he said.
The top player is Microsoft, with more than 20 million users.
A report from Dublin-based Research and Markets forecast that revenue from subscriptions in the IPTV market would grow to US$56.8 billion in 2016 from US$29 billion last year, representing a compound annual growth of 18.2 per cent.
It said there was a strong growth in the number of subscribers last year, particularly in Asia, due to demand in markets such as China and South Korea. China has the most subscribers worldwide and that trend "will likely continue".
China had 23 million IPTV users by the end of last year or 25 per cent of the global total, according to the government. By comparison, there were 174 million broadband subscribers by the third quarter of last year.
Industry commentator Xiang Ligang said IPTV gave operators an opportunity to expand their businesses as demand for traditional voice-call services had reached a bottleneck.