By Chris Dziadul
December 11, 2009 06.54 UK
The launch of Romtelecom’s IPTV service could prove to be one of the most important developments in Romania’s TV industry for quite some time.
Backed by Greece’s OTE and ultimately Deutsche Telekom, the incumbent telco is no stranger to the industry, having operated a cable company named Cable Vision of Romania that it sold to UPC for a reported €8 million in 2005. Earlier this year it re-entered the cable market by acquiring networks from an alternative carrier named New Com.
More importantly, Romtelecom has operated a DTH platform named Dolce for three years. Despite entering a market already served by four competitors, it has proved to be a resounding success and now has some 850,000 subscribers. What is more, it is gaining more new ones – 137,000 out of a total of 150,000 in the first half of this year – than any of its rivals.
Romtelecom’s decision to launch an IPTV service should therefore come as no surprise. Besides helping to retain its fixed subscriber base of some 3 million, several tens of thousands of which are already believed to be able to receive Dolce Interactiv, it should allow the telco to compete more effectively with its main competitors in the provision of HD and on demand services.
Dolce Interactiv will initially be offering subscribers a total of 24 channels, most of which are international, free of charge until the end of next March. This should help it build up a reasonable subscriber base ahead of the introduction of additional services.
Reports indicate that the main channel offer will subsequently cost €3.45 a month and that more programme packages will be added.
Dolce Interactiv has the advantage of entering an IPTV market with few other significant players. Bucharest-based Ines, one of the best known, has until recently counted its subscribers in the hundreds rather than thousands.
However, its real impact will be felt in the wider TV marketplace, confirming Romtelecom as a real threat to both UPC and RCS/RDS.