Swisscom's delay of IPTV
is being frowned upon by IPTV advocates and analysts around the world. According to Light Reading
, "In the U.S., analysts are watching the development closely -- perhaps too closely -- as some think it might even point to additional setbacks at other networks where Microsoft and Alcatel are working together."
Swisscom had originally promised to offer IPTV service in the second half of 2005. That has now been postponed until further testing can take place and a proposed 2006 launch date.
The reason? According to officials, the service is not yet ready for prime-time. "The commercial launch will not be possible in the second half of 2005 as originally planned, as it has become apparent that the technology currently available is not yet suitable for serial delivery, in particular since the set-top box has no internal hard disk and only one television channel is available," Swisscom said in a prepared statement on Thursday.
Swisscom has been working closely with Microsoft and Alcatel to provide their IPTV service. In 2003, Microsoft scored a large win in Europe by announcing that Swisscom would use their Microsoft TV software platform. Swisscom had hopes of being the first operator in Europe to provide IPTV service using Microsoft TV, according to Swisscom spokeswoman Pia Colombo. "Now we are going to have to wait until all the kinks are worked out," she said.
According to Colombo, set-top boxes produced by several other companies are also not capable of meeting Swisscom's service expectations. "For one, they lack a hard disk," she said. "But there other issues, too."
As for Microsoft, Colombo said "they aren't as far along as they thought they would be."
Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of Microsoft's IPTV division, responded on a positive note stating, “working closely on the test deployments with Swisscom and our other customers has been extremely valuable to us in ensuring that we and our technology partners deliver a complete IPTV solution that encompasses software, set-top boxes, encoding solutions, content and all other components that are critical to the success of IPTV. We and our partners are committed to ensuring that Swisscom can deliver IPTV services to its customers as quickly as possible."
Swisscom will perform another round of beta testing later this year with employees of the Swisscom Group and Microsoft. The aim is to launch a full TV service offering with a broad range of television programs, a set-top box with integrated hard disk and the possibility of recording and viewing simultaneously via a single connection.