With the arrival of SmartTV, triple-play ISPs are facing a huge challenge. The connectivity and interactivity coming through their Set-Top-Boxes is no longer a unique feature. Smart TV are now rich with interactive services. ISPs don’t like at all Smart TV as they are flooding their network with data and stealing their customer. What VoD service will the end user use? The one from its ISP or the one embedded in the TV set?
There are 2 tracks that ISP can follow:
- The first is to offer a 2-tiered service. Over the Top (OTT) services coming with SmartTV have no QoS whereas they guarantee the QoS of the services coming from their STB.
- The second track is to push further their STB experience with more features. It is the track followed by Free in France offering a STB featuring an Atom processor, a full browser, a remote control with an accelerometer, a blue ray player, etc. On the other hand TV set makers cannot compete as they cannot subsidize all these features. With these specs the STB is more like a smartphone capable of running games and advanced applications. E.g. the new Freebox revolution can run Asphalt 6 Adreline game (picture from last Aug.).
By increasing its specs the STB is now eating in the console plate and some console like the Xbox is starting to feature interactive services. Frontiers between these product categories are blurring.
Some small ISPs are currently considering another route. As very soon, TV sets will be able to display multicast streams for the additional TV channels, they want to withdraw back. Their plan is to save some CAPEX in not offering any STB at all. They are just assuming their pipe positioning.