There was an interesting article in Business Week last week about PCCW and its Now Broadband TV service (sorry - I was waiting until it became freely available, but it seems that it doesn't work that way and you may not be able to read it unless you are a subscriber). The piece points out that PCCW are leading the world:
PCCW accounts for some 30% of all IPTV subscribers worldwide. "PCCW is definitely at the forefront" in the world in IPTV, says analyst Michelle Abraham of Scottsdale, Ariz., consultancy In-Stat.
There's also an interesting explanation as to why PCCW have been able to sign up deals with content providers such as HBO:
PCCW has also proved more adept than i-Cable at preventing piracy in Hong Kong, where some 100,000 receive illegal cable service. A pirate can get all cable channels with access to a set-top box and the encryption. But because IPTV delivers only the channel being watched at the time, theft is harder and less efficient. This has helped PCCW win over content providers. Until recently, "people have been very nervous" about IPTV, says HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink. "But we were very impressed with the security of this system. [PCCW executives] know exactly where the signals are going." Adds Star Group Ltd. spokesman Benson Chao: "IPTV is pretty hard to crack."
Piracy? Cable TV? Hong Kong? Surely not...
According to today's papers, PCCW is planning to add HDTV and video on demand to Now Broadband TV before the end of the year. No word of how the video on demand part will work, but it looks as if the programs will be stored on their servers rather than in the customer's box (as per Sky+) and the implication is that they will be charging for this service on a usage basis. Meanwhile, dear old BT will finally get round to launching its IPTV service next summer. No need to rush, guys..
A couple of years ago, companies such as BT in the UK and PCCW in Hong Kong were regarded as dinosaurs who would inevitably lose out to more agile competitors. However, they are fighting back, and perhaps we shouldn't write them off just yet.