Discussion Papers

Patrick Anell, Dieter Elixmann

"Triple Play"-Angebote von Festnetzbetreibern: Implikationen für Unternehmensstrategien, Wettbewerb(s)politik und Regulierung

Nr. 291 / März 2007

Summary

The present study focuses on Triple Play-offers launched by telecom operators (telcos). Such offers are currently a worldwide phenomenon. The world’s largest market for IPTV up to now is Hong Kong. In Europe France is the leading market, however the number of subscribers is still relatively low. Even in the long-term only a slight diffusion can be expected.

From the telco’s perspective the extension of their traditional business (access and carriage) by “audiovisual services” (IPTV) implies special strategic challenges. In this context the composition of such an offer is of special importance. Telcos are able to configurate their IPTV-offer in many different ways. IPTV-portfolios can either be configurated as a substitute or as a complement to traditional television services. Our analysis shows that great parts of IPTV-portfolios of various providers can’t be classified as strategic asset. Differentiation in competition between alternative medial platforms and competing telcos is basically only possible by acquisition of exclusive-content. Nevertheless, the acquisition of increasingly expensive exclusive-content appears to be practicable only by internal subsidisation, viz. it is unlikely that IPTV-exclusive-content can refinance itself as a separate profit centre.

With regard to the regulatory point of view the discussion focuses on the question if IPTV should be classified as a broadcasting service or as a telecommunications service. In international comparison, there is no consistent agreement concerning the classification of IPTV. Up to now, the impacts of the planned revision of the European Commission’s Directive “Television without Frontiers” on the development of IPTVmarkets can’ t be foreseen. The differentiation between linear- and non linear audiovisual services as conducted in this directive does not appear to be future proof, due to the dynamic market development in this sector. Furthermore, proprietary standards of end devices and the here from resultant lock-in-effects appear inadmissible for competitive reasons. To exert influence on the formation of opinion, the number of IPTV-subscribers is currently far to low.

Recapitulating, it has to be pointed out that the offer of IPTV as an additional service to telco’s traditional business has to be classified as a “must application” in competition. The primary intention of Triple Play-strategies of telecom operators according to our analysis is the consolidation of customer relationships. [only a german version available]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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