Middle East, North Africa regions set for IPTV explosion

Assuredly they are promoting a summit on multiplatform services, but organizers of TV Connect Middle East and North Africa are predicting that IPTV subscriber numbers in the region will grow tenfold to 1.6 million by 2014, by leveraging a model that combines managed IPTV with over-the-top TV (OTTtv).

While a big growth spurt, it will only account for about a tenth of the entire region for pay-TV homes, which will reach a 15 percent penetration rate--11 million homes--according to Informa Telecoms & Media Research, speaking in advance of the summit, which starts Oct. 29 in Dubai.

Another big reason for the subscriber increase is the fact that, unlike Western countries, which have more entrenched infrastructure, the region "offers the opportunity to build the most up-to-date and effective networks," said Nick Thomas, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Show organizers, in a news release, pointed to telecom operators such as Etisalat, Dubai's incumbent telecom and the event partner, as maximizing their potential to combine IPTV with OTT.

"The country is relatively small geographically with a new infrastructure. The population is young (the majority under 35), tech-savvy and has high levels of disposable income. If premium IP-based paid content services are to work anywhere, it is here," Thomas said.

Conference organizers hope to use the event as a spotlight for issues that affect a managed IPTV ecosystem working in tandem with the OTTtv. As such, sessions will focus on the importance of content packages, localizing content across countries, licensing issues and ways the industry can cooperate to bring forth a "connected and interactive TV experience for the future," the news release said.

"It is a very good networking event with specialized professionals in the region exploring new ways for increasing IPTV/OTT revenues for the operators," said Hisham Arafat, general manager at INC Emirates Technology, calling the event "an excellent opportunity to introduce the newest technologies in IPTV and OTT to regional telecom operators."

For more:
- see this news release

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