20080528

France files TMP

France's national broadcasting authority, the CSA, selected the happy not so few DVB-H winners : 16 channels for 13 spots and 11 players, including 1 total newcomer in the broadcasting / mobile field : Luc Besson's EuropaCorp TV. TMP (Television Mobile Personnelle) echoes TNT (Television Numerique Terrestre), the free DVB-T package, and a 30% coverage is expected by EOY 2011 (TNT reaches 95% then). TMP packages should range between 3 and 6 euros, not including premium channels.

New slots will be awarded next year. Not necessarily from the pack of losers.

And the winners are :

France Televisions (3 channels to be determined later by the CSA)
TF1 Group (Eurosport - a pay TV - and TF1).
Canal Plus Group (Canal + - the premium channel - and i tele)
M6 Group (M6 and W9)
France Telecom (Orange Sport TV may join the pack of pay channels after clinching part of French Ligue 1 soccer rights – anyway, FT confirms its big league status)
Next Radio TV (BFM TV)
Groupe Bollore Medias (Direct 8 Mobile)
NRJ Group (NRJ 12)
AB Groupe (NT1). TMC channel (a JV with TF1) didn't make it.
Lagardere Active (Virgin 17)
EuropaCorp TV (EuropaCorp)

In predictable moves :
- the CSA denied a spot to TF1's LCI news pay TV (unlike free competitors i tele and BFM TV) but did the same for Canal Plus' s Infosport (vs Eurosport)
- Groupe AB saved only its top channel, already on TNT. NT 1 Remix and TMC (a JV with TF1) didn't make it. Ditto for Nextradio (RMC Sport and Business 24/7 failed) and FT / Orange (no to O'TV).
- Lagardere Active secured only the Virgin / music brand for the first round (Elle TMP, Canal TMP, Gulli, MTP 1, MCM Top also failed)

16 + 12 = 28. 7 more projects were refused :
- MCS / Ma Chaine Sport (Numericable)
- E3TV (L'Equipe + Les Echos + Equidia)
- Life BAC (Lifebac)
- Tele Melody (Cofites)
- TVSF (Association TVSF)
- Aprod TV (Adamique Production)
- One TV Plus (Mobibase)



20080524

Korea : 2G WiBro South, 3GSM North

North Korea (or at least certain parts of the hermitest kingless kingdom) has been enjoying 2G GSM since 2002. And for an even more restricted public since 2004, after the train explosion rumored to be an assassination attempt against KIM Jong-il.

Now the Dear Leader can enjoy movies on the go even outside of his personal bunker-train. CHEO Technology (a Korea Post & Telecommunications / Orascom - 25% / 75% - JV) was awarded a 25 year 3G W-CDMA license earlier this year and obviously started investing ($ 400 M for the network and the license).

Cross the border, China Unicom has been stripped of its CDMA network. New investments in online gaming (30% of Hong Kong's Magicgrids Networks and partnerships with its mainland China Magic Tech Network subsidiary) did not make up for this great loss for SK Telecom.

But the Dear South Korean Mobile Leader announced this week a successful real-time HD video trial of its Wibro Wave 2 : this 2G WiBro claims rates of up to 10Mbps / 37Mbps (up/downlink) will be rolled out across the capital (TTM H2 2008).

SKT wants to market Wibro Wave 2 cheaper than 1G WiBro. KT started its service much later but leads the market. Besides, it is merging its customer service units with KTF and the merger of the two companies seems everyday more probable.

And the competition is raging, forcing MNOs to slash prices for data (ie -30% for SKT phone-mail) and increase marketing expenses (+30% YOY for SKT 2008Q1 - handset subsidies frenzy is back). No wonder SKT's operating income went down 16.3% in 2008Q1.


The worst may be coming : as of July, USIM lock will end and Koreans will at last enjoy the fun of handset and operator switch.



20080509

Helio lands on Virgin island

Brand with prepaid subs would seek added value services king with cool devices.

Virgin Mobile USA and fellow Sprint M-VNO Helio may tie the knot after SK Telecom failed to get Nextel for $5 bn (and cyworld to outperform MySpace).

A marketing wizzard, Korea's mobile leader is good at launching brands on the national market but building an international vehicle is a tremendous task. And investing in an ailing MNO on a huge / consolidating market would have been a waste of time and money.

Now SKT has both*, and it should focus on a relevant partner to give its platforms the global reach they deserve. And quick : Korea's new and US friendly president LEE Myung-bak just met with his new IT advisor : Bill Gates... Microsoft's dark period seems over in the country.

* even if it may lose after China Unicom sells its CDMA network to China Telecom - another blow abroad for SKT, which owns a little bit more than 6% of the MNO.



20080503

IPTV in Korea

A 100 Mbps connection, a brand new Homevita home networking service including a complimentary Samsung Q1 Ultra (slick, black, DMB enabled, lovely keyboard). And all I can get is VOD channels. The closest thing to live TV I get is through classic web browsing or through CCTV (most exciting Reality TV program : who paid me a visit the last few days ?).

Forget about real time broadcasting : the Ministry of Information and Communication is in favor of it but the Korea Broadcasting Commission lobbied against it. The freshest news, sports or series you can get must be at least 24h old. And provided your IPTV service reached an agreement with the broadcaster, you must pay for them (like KRW 500 apiece - never mind those corny loyalty program points).


24 hour old ! Ancient by the standards of a (supposedly) information / knowledge society where 90% of households are already enjoying pay TV, where internet / mobile banking is commonplace, where interactivity starts when you wake up and stops when you fall asleep.

In spite of this key regulatory hurdle (the only reason why France is still a leader in commercial IPTV), and the competition of so many technos (including DMB*) IPTV is on its way to 3 M subs by EOY 2008.

And Daum still wants to become the 4th player this summer ; a TVNO on its competitors' backs with powerful partners : Microsoft (platform and Xbox 360 access), Celrun (set top boxes), and NHN / Naver (Korea's second portal and already a key VOD and TV aggregator - see Naver VOD or
Naver TV news for example)

The competitors ? The usual suspects :
- SK Telecom : the mobile leader is wolfing pionneer and leader Hanaro Telecom down. HanaTV targets 1.8M subs EOY (800k EOQ1 2008) with a break-even point at 2M.
- Korea Telecom (on the way to merging with KTF) : Mega TV has the cutest logo and the best network (optic fiber all the way through its Megapass broadband subsidiary).
- LG Telecom : #3 as always for the TTM as well as the market share. myLGTV has the weakest VOD catalog but that's better than nothing.


These 3 players just reached the 10M 3G subs plateau : 5.28M for KTF (+440K for Show in April), 4.68M for SKT (+470K for T Live) and 190K for LGT's Rev. A service.

* KBS, a top broacaster, is also national and regional T-DMB license holder (with KTF) - about U-KBS (VOD, KBS Star, KBS Heart, KBS Music, KBS Data, KBS-Mozen TPEG telematics... - yet another "Ubiquitus" service), see kbs.co.kr/dmb.







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