Telecom experts believe that the solution to the revenue decreases is to develop added value services on the basis of fixed line and broadband. Especially, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is believed to be the fresh breath of air to be infused into the television service market.
The market is growing
IPTV is a transmission technology that allows to transmit visual signals (video) and sound (audio) through IP network (Internet Protocol). The special thing of IPTV is that it allows viewers to choose the programs they want. Besides, clients can also access other services on the basis of broadband, such as watching TV live on Internet (Live TV), purchasing goods through TV or playing online games.
There are now three big service providers on the IPTV market, namely FPT Telecom, VNPT (the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group) and Viettel. Of these, FPT Telecom is considered the pioneer when commercializing IPTV services and launching iTV brand, which has been renamed as OneTV, in 2006, when broadband was not really popular in Vietnam.
VNPT, which has the broadband infrastructure covering all provinces and cities of the country, has also jumped on the bandwagon. VASC, a subsidiary of VNPT, successfully tried IPTV service in 2008 and then began officially providing the service nationwide one year later with MyTV brand.
The latest comer on the IPTV market is Viettel, a well known mobile network operators, which only commercialized IPTV service earlier this year, marketing the service under NetTV brand, after successfully tested the service in 2010.
The service providers all keep optimistic about the rapid development of the IPTV market, saying that though the market remains fledgling, it would develop more strongly in the next two or three years.
Bui Quoc Viet, the spokesman of VNPT, said that the number of MyTV subscribers has been increasing rapidly. MyTV now has about 500,000 subscribers, while it has 100 new subscribers a day and more than 30,000 new subscribers a month. On average, a subscriber pays 70,000 dong a month.
FPT Telecom also thinks that the market is growing, while consumers’ habit has also changed. Trang Lan Anh Phuong, a senior executive of FPT Telecom, said that the improved quality and the connection speed of broadband Internet TV have brought new features to IPTV, thus making it acceptable to viewers.
“However, I have to say that IPTV should not be seen as the service to replace paid-TV services, but it will be a new choice to clients,” Phuong said. “In the next 3-5 years, TV services on IPTV basis would see robust growth.”
FPT has got 30,000 subscribers for OneTV, while the figure is expected to reach 70,000 this year. The service package fees are 80,000 dong or 40,000 dong, depending on the areas.
Meanwhile, Viettel, the new comer on the market, has also reported the satisfactory number of 15,000 subscribers after the first period of operation, while it strives to have 300,000 subscribers in some more years.
Challenges getting bigger
Though keeping optimistic about the market prospect, service providers have admitted that they still have a lot of things to do to make people get familiar to Internet TV.
Phuong of FPT Telecom said that customers only want to make simple operations when using TVs, such as choosing channels or services, which are now the advantages of analog TVs. Meanwhile, as for IPTV, customers need to have certain knowledge about technology in order to understand and use up all the advantages of the services.
As IPTV is a new technology, service providers all have to make heavy investment in it, including the expenses on infrastructure items and terminal devices. Besides, the fact that the service providers still cannot produce content programs has also hindered the development of IPTV.