2010 Year in Review: IPTV sees a growth spurt, holds more promise

Describe IPTV in two words? How about yin yang? In 2010, the industry has seen strong growth in the U.S. and around the world, despite being unable--still--to deliver on its promise of interactivity.

It's continuing to nibble away at the legacy of cable, with AT&T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS picking up the bulk of the 1.4 million subscribers that cable operators have lost in the past two quarters.

Improved technology, like AT&T's pair-bonded VDSL and Alca-Lu's Integrated Solution for Microsoft Mediaroom, its new compact IPTV offering that takes advantage of virtual networks and rapid deployment, make it easier--and cheaper--for tier 2 and tier 3 operators to move into IPTV.

The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service and National Telecommunications and Information Administration broadband stimulus awards and grants were a bonanza for smaller operators who used the awards to build out new fiber infrastructure that will make delivery of advanced video products possible.

ABI Research said it expects IPTV growth to outpace all other pay-TV modes, doubling its share of the market by 2015.

While IPTV growth in Western Europe also is expected to grow, it and Asia-Pacific continue to be IPTV strongholds. China is expected to help the Asia Pacific region maintain strong IPTV growth through 2015.

While European operators hold more than 48 percent of the IPTV market, with France, at 9.4 million, counting for nearly half of the 19 million subscribers, the U.S.-the second largest IPTV market, likely will pass 7 million IPTV subs in 2011.

"Most IPTV markets have not reached saturation, so there is plenty more room for growth," Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic, said in September.