Belgian telco Belgacom is taking the uncommon step of becoming its own IPTV system integrator, and plans to acquire the rights needed to develop the platform supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) on its own.
The agreement, which includes the transfer of around 25 Belgium-based NSN employees over to Belgacom, is intended to allow Belgacom to respond to customer needs more quickly, and to more frequently release unique and compelling entertainment products, services and applications.
Belgacom launched its IPTV service in 2005, working closely together with NSN to build a scalable end-to-end platform which today serves over 1.2mn subscribers. The transaction with NSN will be subject to relevant regulatory approvals and the fulfilment of customary closing conditions.
The telco revealed last week that it is planning to make a number of changes to its IPTV service ‘Belgacom TV’ very shortly, including improved menus, increased readability, a high-performance search engine, and personalised recommendations of TV programmes and movies for each family member – more details here.
Editor’s view: This is an unusual step for any IPTV operator to take, but one which appears sensible in light of Belgacom’s ambitions for its TV service: as telcos become increasingly adept at the television business, this might well be their best way to keep up with IPTV customers’ rapidly evolving needs.
Whilst over-the-top (OTT) delivery has improved to the point where it now looks a more suitable choice for many small-to-medium sized telcos, there are still many out there who remain committed to managed IPTV, and which need to meet subscriber demand for personalised, social, multi-screen TV services.
Taking over the reins from their existing systems integrators may be the most prudent way to achieve this, and we may well see other operators follow Belgacom’s lead later this year.