Tandberg: 'More mergers are inevitable'

Chris Forrester


“Price pressure is inevitable during any economic downturn,” says Roger Bolton (Tandberg Television’s EVP-Compression Systems), “and this crisis is tougher than most. But what we are seeing is the strong [players in our business] getting stronger and the weak getting weaker.”

Tandberg itself is now firmly part of telco giant Ericsson, while Scientific Atlanta is similarly absorbed within Cisco, while the long-anticipated merger between Snell & Wilcox and Pro-Bel took place in March. Rapid TV News asked Bolton, who is next?

“We saw the Ericsson move as being very positive for Tandberg Television, and it opened so many doors around the world,” said Bolton. “The economic downturn has not affected our investment in R&D, indeed this year our R&D budget is greater than ever. Large companies can do this, but I am not so sure smaller companies can begin to compete in this area. As to mergers, the gossip, if it is to be believed, sees Harmonic and Scopus getting closer together, and I am sure we’ll see similar activity around a few other names as they try to maintain a foothold.”

“But from Tandberg’s point of view, it is inevitable that there’s a slow-down but what we find is that broadcasting is one of the first to emerge from any downturn. As the economies pick up then the first thing that happens is mass-market advertising picks up, and we certainly hope this will be the case by the end of this year,” added Bolton.

Questioned on whether IPTV was turning out to be something of a ‘damp squib’ for operators (and vendors), Bolton said IPTV had been successful, and very successful, “where there was weak or non-existent cable. Look at France and Italy, where the IPTV numbers are impressive, and growing. Hong Kong is the example that everyone mentions. But we are seeing real progress elsewhere. Look at Verizon’s FiOS which is really IPTV, and AT&T’s U-Verse, both making headway. South Korea the same. Cable is fighting back, and DOCSIS 3 enables cable to become more IPTV-like in its services and offerings. However, in other markets there’s little or no room for manoeuvre. Look at the UK, where BT’s Vision IPTV service is struggling because the UK is so well developed digitally.”

Tandberg’s IPTV Middleware product will be showcased at NAB.