Samsung is working with TeliaSonera, Sweden’s dominant Telco, to develop a Smart TV-based IPTV package that will end the need for a separate set top box. The two companies, which claim this is the world’s first “set-top box free” IPTV service, will be launched first in Estonia late 2012, followed by TeliaSonera’s home market of Sweden in the first quarter of 2013 and neighboring Finland soon after.
TeliaSonera’s Estonian subsidiary has been trialing a beta version of the service on Samsung Smart TV series 7 and 8 TVs since May 2012. The package will be offered to existing TeliaSonera IPTV customers in its European markets, who will be able to attach a Samsung smart TV to the network for automatic recognition and discovery of the IPTV service. The user will not have to enter any settings, with the IPTV user interface appearing automatically and all TV services ready to use. It will enable use of all IPTV services, including Video on Demand and catch-up. The solution is being demonstrated in public for the first time at the IFA consumer electronics trade fair in Berlin from August 31 through September 5, 2012.
Although claimed as a world first, Samsung is working in parallel with partners on similar services in other regions.
“Samsung is continuously working on partnering with operators like TeliaSonera and enabling consumers to enjoy their favorite content in an easier and more convenient ways,” said Kyungshik Lee, VP of Visual Display Division, Samsung Electronics.
In fact, Australian pay TV operator Foxtel launched its Foxtel on Internet TV application on Samsung’s SmartTV platform in July 2012, with the help of smart TV and IPTV technology vendor Accedo. This allows access to the Foxtel service without the need for installation, a lock-in contract or a Foxtel set-top-box. This offers the full range of 30 live Foxtel channels, including FOX8, Discovery Channel, ESPN, UKTV and Showtime, and proved popular during the recent Olympic Games.
Samsung Electronics has also formed an alliance with Verizon, the biggest U.S. Telco, to develop content for smart TVs. The two companies will offer IPTV content, including VoD, through the Verizon FiOS App on Samsung’s smart TV. Consumers subscribing to Verizon broadband services will be able to view such content, again without using STBs.
The key to success of these emerging smart TV services will lie with pricing, assuming that they do work as seamlessly as Samsung and the respective operators claim. The potential for much lower entry points to big screen pay TV are there, since by eradicating the set-top box, a substantial proportion of the cost per customer is eliminated. In effect the customer is paying for the functionality by buying the smart TV, leaving operators better placed to experiment with new low payment schemes. This, in turn, could draw people into pay TV who previously could not afford it and currently watch free to air content.