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IPTV at IFA Berlin 2007

Ralf Jurrien
IFA Report
Friday 20th, July 2007
Posted by: Ralf Jurrien

With the increasing pace of digi-talization of television transmission a new acronym has emerged: IPTV, which stands for “television on the basis of the internet protocol”. This refers to new kinds of television services which permit genuine interactivity, in other words not simply the capability for zapping through all the channels but also video on demand and individual access to all kinds of information and entertainment programmes. In this way television is expanding beyond the structures typically associated with it today: Viewers are no longer restricted solely to a time sequence stipulated by the programme schedules. Irrespective of the schedules drawn up by the television networks.

IPTV at IFA Berlin 2007

IFA Berlin 2007 - Supraregional IPTV service
The technology for IPTV is based on the latest generation of broadband DSL telecommunications connections. These include ADSL2+ with speeds of up to 16 megabits per second and the even faster VDSL, which can feed data into the home at breathtaking rates of up to 50 megabits per second. However, IPTV is also possible using digital cable networks with return channel capability. At the present time three major telecommunications companies are preparing to introduce supraregional IPTV services in Germany. Their introductory offers, which are already available, include not only TV programmes in traditional forms, which are also distributed via satellite and cable, from the public sector and commercial broadcasting networks, but also pay-TV packages, for example for soccer fans, for viewers requiring foreign language services, and of course, download services providing films and other forms of entertainment.

IPTV at IFA Berlin 2007
Even high-definition videos are available via these electronic videotheques. For example, Deutsche Telekom AG will be presenting its own range of such services at the IFA 2007 in Berlin. IPTV services are already a commercial reality in some regions, but in general they are still only being operated as pilot schemes. Distribution is still at a relatively modest level and currently involves some 35,000 households. However this situation is expected to change rapidly in the aftermath of the IFA 2007, with the launch of a massive, nationwide initiative during this trade show at the historic radio tower, the Funkturm, which takes place this year from 31 August to 5 September.

IFA Convention 2007 - German entertainment market
The IFA Convention 2007 has a threefold role: to investigate, navigate and present the latest developments in the world of digital technology. Specially selected speakers from the international media sector and from the CE, IT and telecommun-ications industries will be presenting the main trends and developments in the digital world, and providing in-depth insights into the associated opportunities and risks. The IFA Convention 2007, with the decision-makers’ conference organized by the Financial Times Germany on the subject of “IPTV - Growth Potentials on the German Entertainment Market”, will begin on 31 August 2007.

German IPTV award at the IFA 2007
Preparations have been going on since early June for the first German IPTV Award. The search is on for creative ideas and outstanding business models that will help to promote the spread of internet applications for distributing television programmes and films. Prizes worth a total of 45,000 euros await the winners. This competition is part of the promotional programme "Innovationsforen Unternehmen Region" from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and support is being provided by, among others, the Cologne-based Verband der deutschen Internetwirtschaft e.V. eco and the higher education institute Technische Fachhochschule Berlin. Entries have been invited for the 1st German IPTV Award in five categories: promising business models, outstanding creativity and design, exciting content, innovative technology and international applications. The best IPTV solutions will receive their awards at the IFA 2007.

IPTV in the future
Media experts are predicting a great future for IPTV. Over the next one to two decades they expect everything that is currently available on our television screens to migrate to internet structures and become fully interactive. Throughout the world some 7,000 broadcasting stations are operating with IPTV transmissions. The range is expanding almost daily in Germany. “Already 498 programmes are being distributed in the form of IPTV in Germany”, according to Professor Wolf-Dieter Ring, President of the Bavarian Regional Office for New Media, speaking in early May at the Spring Conference of the German TV Platform. An expert in this field, he reported that “approximately half of them consist of programmes from the leading media companies. Other contributors include campus television, company TV, advisory broadcasts, training television and niche broadcasters offering items such as extreme sports.” The special interest nature of such services indicates the change which could take place in the media landscape, accompanying the spread of IPTV structures, which could eventually include content distributed by viewers themselves, following the example provided already by the popular YouTube.

German national public network ARD
However, new forms of media will only supplement established, high quality formats from the leading media companies, but will never replace them entirely. The German national public network ARD, for example, is firmly committed to making more intensive use of the new technical possibilities, in the form of downloads from its internet portal, in order to make audio and video items available on demand after they have been broadcast as part of its regular schedule. “IPTV will alter and improve the media landscape in many different ways over the coming years”, predicts Dr. Rainer Hecker, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu. “As equipment manufacturers we will be following this exciting development and will play our part in this changing structure - for example with reliable, standardized technical solutions that will also ensure that these new services are fed into homes in a simple, easy-to-use, high quality form.”

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