Informa's IPTV World Forum gets under way tomorrow at London's Olympia. The event seems to keep on expanding, although I'd put the increased interest these days as much down to OTT IPTV as the sort of managed IPTV ISPs and telcos would rather be delivering.
It looks like being a good conference, and I have many meetings booked. I'm looking forward to hearing about IPTV user experience on Thursday, especially, given Google TV's less-than-wholly successful launch, from Google's Dennis Miloseski, who is head of design at that group.
In fact, Alcatel-Lucent kicked off the event today with a workshop from Anthony Berkeley, who is responsible for marketing at its Velocix division. A 2009 acquisition, Velocix is helping ISPs and telcos (fixed and mobile) to improve their involvement in the delivery of over-the-top video. Specifically, as Anthony described it, ALU/Velocix wants to allow its customers to create a "differentiated experience" for its broadband customers in web video. In response to my question about the implications of this for net neutrality, Anthony assured us that it did not prevent any content from getting to end users, but he also admitted that the response of regulators will vary by country.
I detected if anything a slight note of fear in Velocix's presentation: it made very clear the threat to telcos' independence from partnering with the likes of Akamai and Google, who are claimed to be offering the ISPs free caching in the telco networks in order to improve the performance of OTT services. ALU warns telcos that they should not allow these emerging competitors to exploit their own network assets, especially when they are not being offered any revenue share from OTT video. ALU recommends that ISPs invest in their own CDN solutions as well as content rights and digital media services.
It's quite clear that, while net neutrality has been a hot topic mostly in the US until now, it is going to become more of an issue elsewhere as OTT video consumption continues to explode. As firms like Netflix, Google and Amazon push ever closer to becoming pay TV competitors, the telcos/ISPs simply will not be able to afford to stand back without taking action to improve control over bandwidth consumption.
Client Reading: Over-the-top Video vs. TV Everywhere: How Disruptive is OTT to the Pay TV Business?