Telcos bungle triple play bundles

Telstra could lose chokehold within two years

Australian telcos are again lagging behind the rest of the world by not offering voice, data and video triple play bundles, according to industry analysts.

According to analyst firm IDC, Telstra and Optus remain non-committed to the services, while French, American, European and Asian telcos, who have provided triple play offerings for the past two years, are moving into multi-play deployments which pile additional multimedia streaming, home monitoring and fixed to mobile convergence (FMC) into the mix.

IDC digital consumer market analyst Sophie Lo blamed the lack of competition in the Australian telcommunications market for stalling innovation and infrastructure developments.

"We don't have a competitive telecommunications market in Australia because we have a single massive incumbent and a bunch of smaller telcos unwilling to challenge it," Lo said.

"[In 2003] Iliad, an alternative French ISP, challenged incumbent telco France Telecom by marketing a home gateway service [which] forced France Telecom to create a home gateway strategy.

"It comes down to the other telcos' willingness to challenge Telstra for the sake of innovation and competition; they could easily have enough strength to threaten them if Optus and a few others band together, but they just want to copy one another."

She said innovation can be stimulated by smaller providers because incumbents will always want to be at the forefront of development.

"Telstra's hold on infrastructure will break if the smaller providers develop their own technologies [rather than] following its footprint, because as people consume the technologies they will put more pressure on the infrastructure," she said.

"There is an increasing need for more bandwidth as telcos churn out innovative services, [which] led France Telecom to test Fiber to the Home (FTTH) in mid 2006, and Iliad to announce the roll-out of a FTTH local loop."

Telsyte managing director Warren Chaisatien said Vodafone UK and British Telecom (BT) have trialled FMC as a part of multi-play bundles and found it is a long way from mass market use.

"They have found while FMC works, it is a long way of mass market appeal," Chaisatien said.

Telco analyst Paul Budde said while FMC is still emerging and has many faults, it can be used in a secure VPN.

"FMC is not happening because the technology is lacking which means it is too costly, fraught with dangers, and requires an engineer every other day," Budde said.

"You can emulate a wireless system in a building [where] you can roam with your VoIP or mobile phone over a campus or business network, which is privately controlled so you can build a quality and secure network."

An IDC study titled From Triple Play to Multi Play: Comparison of Australian Telcos and Overseas Best Practices, found local telcos could be leading innovation within two years if Australia "follows the footsteps of France".

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