|Latin America 2005
|Nothing will be as it was
|Richard Lihe Ye
Richard Lihe Ye is the President of ZTE in Brazil and Vice President for ZTE Latin America. He established ZTE’s activities in Brazil when the company first came to the country. As Vice President of ZTE in Brazil, he was responsible for hiring the company’s initial team of professionals and starting the company’s business. Upon completing the set-up of the Brazilian branch, Richard Ye was transferred to Madrid, Spain. There, he assumed responsibility for ZTE’s business with the Telefónica Group for the whole Latin America. Since joining ZTE, in addition to Brazil, he has worked for ZTE in Spain and China, Ecuador and Peru. Richard Ye graduated in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Electronic Sciences and Technology of China.
IPTV, the transmission of digital TV using the Internet Protocol, will grow rapidly in the next few years. IPTV offers interactive audio and video services, higher technical quality than existing broadcast TV, better content and personalised services. IPTV is an important strategic alternative for fixed telecommunications operators threatened by the broad range of sophisticated wireless services. IPTV provides traditional broadcasting services, video on demand (VoD), Private Video Recorder (PVR), Time-Shifted Television (TSTV), Interactive Games and many other services.
The dissemination of the IPTV services will change not only the daily lives of consumers, but also the strategy of the telecommunication carriers and cable TV operators. Research institutes are unanimous in projecting a great boom in IPTV services around the world during the next five years. Two recent studies show: – The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that between 2005 and 2009 the European IPTV services market will grow almost ten times, from US$ 262 million to US$ 2,5 billion. France, Italy and Spain will lead this expansion; – Multimedia Research Group (MRG) expects the number of IPTV subscribers will grow from 1.9 million to 25.3 million between 2004 and 2008, a 79 per cent compound annual growth. IPTV, a product of technological convergence and the result of years of research and development, is now ready to be commercialised by a great many service providers. It is a new service based on the Internet Protocol. IPTV provides interactive audio and video services. Secure and advanced IP networks will provide consumers with an enriched personal entertainment experience. IP will deliver higher technical quality, better content and personalised services according to the user’s profile. Business strategies IPTV is one of the most important alternatives business strategies for fixed telecommunication carriers today, since they need services to compete with those offered by wireless operators and to re-build their profitability. IPTV is very promising: it helps speed the development of broadband networks, increases ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) subscriptions, raises ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and operational revenues. The infrastructure for an IPTV system must meet the user’s many demands for home entertainment and provide operators with a platform for interactive added-value services, including broadcasting, video on demand (VoD) or a mix of the two. Some of the most common IPTV services are: – Broadcasting is the basic form of IPTV services. Broadcasting services are those of traditional TV, with channel switching and selection using on-screen menus. Broadcasting helps operators attract traditional TV viewers. Revenues come from monthly subscriptions, advertisements and other services. The service usually uses IP multicast to transmit TV programmes through IP networks. – VoD is another basic IPTV service. Viewers select programmes via screen menus and pay for their choices. With VoD, the viewer actively selects the content he sees, whenever he wants to see it, instead of passively choosing from among the programmes that the broadcasters happen to be presenting at the moment. – Private Video Recorder (PVR) lets viewers record broadcast content for later viewing whenever it is convenient. – Pay-per-View (PPV) is a form of VoD. Hot new films usually adopt this type of service. PPV uses digital copyright technology. – Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) is another type of VoD. Viewers pay monthly to view special programmes and this changes passive channel viewing into view on demand. – SVoD combines broadcasting and VoD services. – Time-Shifted Television (TSTV) combines broadcasting and VoD. Viewers may pause the programme they are watching at anytime and continue to view it later from wherever they left off. The server starts recording the programme whenever the pause control is used, and replays the recorded programme later using a unicast mode. – Near Video on Demand (NVoD) transmits multiple copies of a programme on several channels at short time intervals (e.g. 10 minutes). Viewers can move forward and backward in the programme by switching channels. The NVoD service is an improved form of traditional broadcasting it is especially suitable for hot films and breaking news coverage. – TV Shopping combines a TV shopping guide and PC-based e-commerce. The TV presentation form is more vivid, and helps promote the service. – Interactive games connect players to electronic games using TV as a medium. Different bets There are three types of IPTV services. The first is the joint operation. A network operator and a content provider establish an agreement where the former sells and offers the services and the latter elaborates and integrates the content. The revenues are shared according to pre-established terms. The second type is self-operation. The network operator handles the entire service, buying content from independent companies and keeps the revenue. The third type is leasing. The network operator rents his platform for a fee to an IPTV service provider who keeps the resulting revenue. Joint operations eliminate certain regulatory problems, but enhance operator/content provider conflicts, and require rigid legal control. The self-operation mode is often found in countries with little regulatory control, but powerful operators. Since the operator has a full control over both content and the network platform, costs are relatively low. This is the most favourable mode for the operator. The lease mode works best when the TV operator is strong and wants to offer IPTV services. The TV operator develops its IPTV services using IP networks of telecom operators. In practice, IPTV operators flexibly adopt one of the modes or a combination of several modes according to their specific environment. Failure-proof Less than ten years ago, some large operators tried, unsuccessfully, to offer services similar to those provided by IPTV using analog lines. With digital lines, though, failure is almost impossible. Today’s digital platforms are much more reliable, more flexible and cost much less than ten years ago. Reliability is the number one requirement for IPTV services. For the consumer, the chief characteristic of interactive audio and video services is total technical availability; there are no interruptions due to operational failures. Consequently, IPTV systems must meet a series of requirements: Integrity The solution should ensure the quality and interoperability of products, simplify maintenance and implementation, as well as satisfy operators, requirements regarding operation management, service control, service quality and maintenance of the IPTV services. Operability Systems have to provide a wide range of services, have flexible and diversified service policies, support the development of interactive user self-service functions and provide easy content processing and control. Manageability In order to support automated service flow management, visualised equipment management, remote equipment failure diagnosis and abundant service operation statistical reports and network operation reports. Scalability Initially, the solution superimposes IPTV service upon an existing broadband network platform. Later more progressively more sophisticated video network and operation support platform can be flexibly deployed to fit service deployment requirements. As needed, the operation support platform can also expand from a single server to a layered network system. Online software update An online update server enables the automatic update of the set top box (STB) software. An update failure rollback mechanism ensures the proper operation of the STB. Flexible networking The IPTV ‘video convergence’ transmission solution and the IPTV ‘video delivery’ transfer solution are both designed to help networks at different development stages to smoothly evolve into IPTV service networks, utilising current network resources and improving the performance-cost ratio of IPTV. Service security Access authorisation, service authorisation, Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM) multicast channel control and digital content copyright control mechanisms are all needed to ensure security of the service. System access limits guarantee the security of the background. These form a well-founded basis for service operation. Service quality assurance IPTV service quality end-to-end is assured by a number of means: the flow balance technology of the video distribution system; the stream service receiving control; the layered distribution architecture; the IP network’s differentiated service models, the access network’s user-and-service-based multi-level QoS processing (DSLAM) and multiple Permanent Virtual Circuit (PVC) service barriers of the modem. The multicast access limit control technology of the DSLAM reduces the time delay of channel switching, improving service quality. The first commercial IPTV experiences took place in China, India and Mexico; many others are on the way. In Brazil there are excellent opportunities for several sorts of providers. The market and the technology for IPTV are both ready.