Smart invests €2.5m to boost internet TV rollout

3 Sep 2007

A reinvigorated and ambitious Smart Telecom has revealed it is investing €2.5m in its internet protocol TV (IPTV) service to bring triple play services to its existing 15,000 residential customers.

The new state-of-the-art MPEG4 IPTV headend and middleware investment will see the platform of over 100 TV and radio channels made available to an addressable market of 550,000 homes across Ireland.

The new service will be introduced in November and a phased rollout of channel line-up and IPTV services is planned to be unveiled for the wider broadband residential market from the first quarter of next year.

The service will include additional IPTV services such as video on demand, TV on demand, on screen account management and on-screen phone line integration.

“The Triple Play market in Europe is expected to be worth €1 billion in 2007 yet is still in its absolute infancy in Ireland. This deal puts Smart Telecom at the cutting edge of interactive and integrated television services in Ireland,” said Pio Murtagh, chief operations officer at Smart Telecom.

“The MPEG 4 offering enables Smart Telecom to provide the very latest in compression technology for our customers. Our new range of set top boxes can provide Personal Video Recording (PVR) functionality.

“Customers will have a digital video recording capacity of up to 80 hours in addition to multi-stream viewing.” Pricing will have substantial and attractive discounts reflective of customer product choice.”

In the past year rival operator UPC deployed its cable-based triple play offerings to the Irish market while incumbent telecoms operator Eircom has made no secret of its ambitions to enter the triple play arena through investments in next generation networks as well as signing strategic content deals with Setanta.

IPTV is the fastest growing pay-TV platform in Europe, outstripping all other platforms combined. Media analyst Screen Digest predicts that subscriptions to IPTV services across Europe will almost double from 2.9 million in 2006 to 5.6 million in 2007. Subscription revenues from IPTV are forecast to rise to €1 billion this year, from €470m in 2006.

Smart, which last year suffered major setbacks after having its residential telecoms service shut down by Eircom as well as losing its 3G license, has been regrouping steadily and recently raised €90m from investors as well as acquiring niche smart home provider ENVI.

By John Kennedy