IPTV has been around in the UK for over a dozen years, and delivering TV signals and interactivity was a key part to the original trials of ADSL in Colchester back in 1994. HomeChoice was the real only provider for some years, then BT Vision arrived, and after various acquisitions that saw HomeChoice become Tiscali TV and then part of TalkTalk it has gone quiet for now.
"The future of Europe, at least for the next 5 years, is going to be dominated by FTTx. The cost of full fiber (FTTH) deployment, particularly the last mile, is prohibitive and so the industry and consumers need a stepping stone which is provided by hybrid solutions such as FTTx. FTTx provides a significant increase in bandwidth and an efficient use of existing infrastructure and allows the welcome continued amortization of costs."Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic in Munich at FTTH Conference
FTTx which is the combination of FTTC and FTTB (i.e. fibre very close to an individuals residence and then ethernet or a VDSL delivery to the actual property/flat, saw a growth of 68% across Europe in the 12 months up until Q3 2011. Oliver Johnsons's comments are from a release by broadband forum on how IPTV is driving FTTx growth in Europe. Full fibre (FTTH) grew by around 31%, cable modem services managing 8% and DSL 7%. The size of the current generation DSL installed base, belies the small 7% increase, since DSL added some 9,215,763 connections, FTTx, 3,998,194 and FTTH 741,563 across Europe in the 12 month period.
The availability of Virgin Media cable TV, and dominance of Sky has generally meant that IPTV has had a limited appeal in the UK, BT Vision has around 680,000 customers. If the rumoured BT Vision 2 can make use of higher bandwidth FTTC and FTTH products from Openreach, or a competitor, then the scope to add more HD channels to Freeview packages using IPTV delivery may increase sales.
While pure IPTV has not had the same pull as in parts of Europe, the UK has embraced the catch-up TV services, and on-demand services like LoveFilm, Netflix and Sky AnyTime+ could well push demand for bandwidth in the home beyond what ADSL2+ can offer.