November sees the return of the Middle East & Africa instalment of the IPTV World Forum to Dubai. Digital Broadcast profiles some of the expected highlights of this year's event.
November sees the return of the Middle East & Africa instalment of the IPTV World Forum to Dubai.
Digital Broadcastprofiles some of the expected highlights of this year's event.
Since last year's inaugural Middle East and Africa IPTV World Forum, IPTV has continued to make headway in the region with du expanding its infrastructure in a deal with Tandberg Television and more recently, the announcement of a new deployment in Amman by Orange Jordan.
A report by the Arab Advisors Group in September of last year claimed that despite the technology's footprint being "minuscule", the continued adoption of broadband and planned rollouts in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt, would ensure this situation changes rapidly.
"The Middle East and Africa are the fastest growing broadband markets in the world," says Gavin Whitechurch, research director with event organiser Informa Telecoms & Media, adding that a recent report by Infonetics found that 48 percent of the world's IPTV revenue was derived from the EMEA region.
"The Middle East and Africa promise significant growth opportunities across the telecoms sector in the next five years, and as competition intensifies, operators are expected to roll-out attractive services such as IPTV to both retain customers and attract new ones," claims Whitechurch.
Despite the regional nature of the show's title, Whitechurch points out that there is nothing parochial about the event.
"We will showcase a number of international success stories at the event. We have also added a presentation from Ted Hsuing, head of business development at one of the IPTV industry's pioneering operators, PCCW of Hong Kong. He will be sharing the company's unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges of IPTV and quad-play," he explains.
"PCCW and other leading international operators such as Orange Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and BT will also be relaying stories from the frontline of some of the most advanced IPTV service deployments."
Acknowledging the progress the Middle East has made on this front in recent years, prominent members of the local industry will gather to discuss deployments past, present and future in the presence of the technology vendors vying to provide the necessary infrastructure.
Whitechurch points out however that the event is developing into not just a place to do business, but a valuable forum at which to discuss issues and trends.
"There is such a huge interest in the event that we've been adding additional speakers from the major operators. In particular, we have a presentation for the region's major operators. Etisalat has recently come on board to discuss the challenges of transitioning from a telecoms network to a true content delivery network," reveals Whitechurch.
With IPTV perhaps the most visible product of broadcaster/telco convergence so far, it is no surprise that operators from both industries will be strongly represented at the show.
"As well as Etisalat we will have Osman Sultan CEO of du, Paul Doany, CEO of Oger Telecom, Hans Paulson, CCO of Uganda Telecom, and representatives of Showtime Arabia, Telkom South Africa, Qatar Telecom and Al Jazeera at the show," boasts Whitechurch.
The two day conference stream at the forum will continue to build on the strong foundations laid last year with topics ranging from marketing for telcos and deployment case studies from France Telecom, Tiscali, Uganda Telecom and Portugal Telecom.
The exhibition, which runs parallel to the conference programme will feature many of the key IPTV technology vendors including Motorola, Tilgin, Thomson and Harris.
"We have been working with QTel since its IPTV service launch in September 2007. The QTel solution provides security for the world's first fully integrated IPTV triple-play deployment," claims Steve Christian, VP of marketing at Verimatrix.
"It offers voice, broadband internet and MPEG4-AVC encoded IPTV over its upgraded infrastructure to subscribers across Qatar."
Competition in the conditional access sector is likely to be further stimulated by the launch of new IPTV services across the region.
Several major rivals to Verimatrix are also looking to make an impression at this year's event.
"We do have significant references already in the Middle East region, including Orbit, and others spanning many different delivery networks," says Ivan Verbesselt, senior VP of marketing at Nagravision.
"Going forward, we see a significant opportunity in the Middle East; the deregulation of the regional markets combined with an increasing pull for premium content from the consumer presents an obvious opportunity."
Fresh from an IBC launch, Viaccess executives will be on hand to discuss the company's new offering with Orca Interactive, which the pair claims to offer complete security and middleware solutions.
The hybrid platform supports VOD, DVB channels and interactive services including catch-up TV, progressive VOD downloads, push-VOD and personal video recording.
Viaccess purchased middleware developer Orca in March of this year. Middleware acquisitions by CAS companies have become increasing popular as operators look to cut their IPTV costs by acquiring one system from one provider.
Mobile TV in the spotlight
Mobile TV Middle East will again run in parallel to the IPTV World Forum MEA.
In addition to the expected array of telcos taking part in the mobile TV discussions several content providers will also be present including Arab Media Group, Turner Broadcasting, MBC and Al Jazeera.
Customising content for the small screen, digital rights management, handset compliance and network deployment will all be up for discussion.
UAE telco du has completed a successful DVB-H trial since last year's event and also expanded the number of channels available on its 3G mobile TV platform.