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In-depth Story / IPTV Lukewarm outlook for Korean technology As an abbreviated word for Internet Protocol Television generally, IPTV is a service which allows users to enjoy video content and broadcasting realtime by using a high-speed Internet network and a TV. In other words, it is a service which provides information, video content as well as broadcasting through a television receiver by using high-speed Internet and can be said to be one type of digital convergence in that IPTV is a convergence between Internet and television. The other point in comparison with established Internet TV is that IPTV uses a television receiver instead of a computer monitor and uses a remote control instead of a mouse. Video on demand (VOD) services exclusive to real-time broadcasting in IPTV and is directly a TV portal. Korean Broadcasting Commission and the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) decided to support an IPTV joint pilot project this November by earmarking a budget of 1.2 billion won (around $1.26 million). The Korean Broadcasting Commission and MIC are scheduled to jointly propel this pilot service project with roughly 100~500 households as its goal. To use IPTV, users have to set up a television receiver, set top box and an Internet connection. Easily, after fixing a set top box or exclusive modem to television, users can use it just like television. Even people who are not accustomed to computers can enjoy diverse content as well as additional services that the Internet provides such as movie appreciation, home shopping, home banking, online games and MP3 access, to say nothing of Internet surfing, simply by using the remote control. IPTV doesn't show any particular quality differences in comparison with general cable broadcasting or satellite broadcasting. It provides broadcasting content including video just as traditional television services do. However, one big difference is that bidirectionality is added. Differently from general land-based broadcasting, cable broadcasting or satellite broadcasting, the TV audience can see programs they would like to watch when it is convenient for them. Accordingly, the initiative in the broadcast can be said to pass from the television broadcasters or cable operators to the TV audience. Why is this IPTV's introduction so late which is equipped with well-sorted condition for television viewers and is welcomed by everyone Ceaseless offense and defense In fact, IPTV was a hot potato which was involved in several issues including new convergence service introduction problems. Opinion differences between the persons concerned as well as relevant institutions haven't subsided yet. Thus, it is true that there is a concern whether just as one thought, the rational and desirable conclusion that the nation wants could be drawn in the course of time. This past August the Broadcasting Communication Convergence Propulsion Committee under the influence of the Prime Minister entered into a full-scale affair by holding a plate-hanging ceremony. Therefore, there remained a task alone to forge good outcomes by putting heads together. In fact, many people concede that broadcasting communication convergence is the general trend which can't swim against the tide in today's Korean society. But controversy has been continued over several years in a vicious circle. In view of this, this Propulsion Committee's launch is fortunate even though it is late in that it ignited reconciliation to the endless cycle of offense and defense. However, there are still difficulties. VoIP business providers decided not to pay network usage fees of 1,500 won per port. VoIP business providers say that they can't pay usage costs without a quality guarantee and insist that it runs also counter to balance with TV portal business providers who don't pay network usage fees. The tentatively named Special Category Telecommunications Operator CEO Corps formally demanded the abolition of the network usage cost institution to the MIC, saying that they can't accept the common carrier's demand that a special category telecommunications operator should pay network usage fees when using VoIP. As reason for such a demand, they insisted that official instructions in July 2005 that a 1,500 won payment per port didn't guarantee a stable circuit supply enough to be proportionate to SLA though its enactment is over already one year and enough to pay usage price such as Quality of Service. Yet, KT and Hanaro Telecom have an opinion that network usage price has to be levied up to exclusive use for incoming and outgoing messages. On the 070 network, outgoing message prices are fixed as network usage prices are also fixed. A guarantee of circuit quality appears to emerge as a point at issue in the process of usage fee calculation since a possibility to levy network usage price to IPTV and web TV business providers as well besides VoIP is high. An official involved in it at MIC said: "The network usage price is fixed and it is a principle to levy since there have been never cases which were calculated. However, as the assertion between business providers cross each other, our Ministry will judge by considering carefully." New launch in autumn On top of that, the Korean Cable TV Association also made its position clear, conveying a recommendation called "Cable TV business circle's standpoint about rough and ready IPTV pilot project propulsion" to MIC and Korean Broadcasting Commission recently. Through this recommendation, the Association pointed out: "In spite of the fact that we made clear that digital TV and IPTV are the same service, IPTV pilot project is being propelled without corresponding technology criterion and an essential condition about facility such as cable card which was applied strictly to digital cable TV business." The Association further raised its voice, saying that to proceed with pilot project propulsion unilaterally without fixing a technology standard in advance is just a special favor about some huge telecommunication business providers that have been preparing such services previously for a long time. The Korean Cable TV Association moreover made the Association's position clear, pointing out that MIC hurrying up IPTV must discontinue deceiving the nation under the pretext of the future growth engine. Cable TV business providers also claimed to postpone service commencement schedule about two months to the middle of Jan. next year as its participation condition in IPTV pilot business. Since Korean Broadcasting Commission however shows its standpoint that it is difficult to accept this as this project has been agreed to proceed by the end of the year with the government budget, whether IPTV service actualization of cable TV side will be actually attained or not, is still an unknown quantity. People embracing the future Yet despite of the difference of such standpoint, IPTV has been engaging many people' response and interest. Although it has not been serviced due to the insufficiency of law and institution in the meanwhile, it heralded its vigorous spring to the general public for the first time on Sept. 20. Broadcasting communication convergence service IPTV was showcased at Sookmyung Women's University (president: Lee Kyung-sook, Ph.D) for the first time for a domestic university. Sookmyung IPTV system was constructed with the support of related equipments such as 75 PDPs of 52inch as well as LCD monitor and set top box from Samsung Electronics. The University's education broadcasting station has been preparing its full-scale broadcasting through installation work and pilot broadcasting over past several months. IPTV, interest of the world The entire world's trend is the same. Nowadays, the world market watches IPTV. In Korea alone, the number of Internet subscribers close in upon 14 million people. IPTV, a communicationbroadcasting converged service, which provides diverse content such as real-time broadcasting through Internet networks, is being keenly watched as a service to spearhead convergence market not only at home, but also abroad. KT has finished the company's IPTV commercialization preparation already at the end of last year, but as law institution preparation regarding communication broadcasting convergence is delayed due to a sphere quarrel between regulation institutions, it is said that KT is not providing commercial service as yet. Hanaro Telecom has launched Hana TV, a TV portal service of VOD which is called as the runner up of IPTV with a blitz on past July this year. Hanaro Telecom collected subscribers closing in upon 50,000 people to date. Also, KT also starts its business drive going by changing established VOD service HomeN to Megapass TV. In addition, PowerCom also plans to launch PC-based VOD service from Oct. this year. Two birds with one IPTV stone TV portal service and IPTV whose commercialization is expected next year, garner to bring ARPU (the average revenue per user) rise effect plus subscriber maintenance as it is disseminated with established high-speed Internet subscribers as its object. High-speed Internet business providers also accordingly plan to catch two hares at a time such as established subscriber maintenance and new growth engine's security through IPTV. Likewise, as newborn broadcasting channels are emerging with IPTV as their object, many persons predict already IPTV's high market competitiveness. C4UMedia which provides EBS with broadcasting programs for infant education, decided to make inroads into broadcasting channel business in preparation for IPTV. It is being understood that there are more new channels such as 'The She' and movie channels which enforced pilot service by teaming up with KT jointly at the end of last year. Moreover, it is said that considerable business providers are weighing content offering into IPTV among satellite broadcasting Skylife exclusive PPs. Movie channel M company and terrestrial wave-associated one PP are active in IPTV, but it is reported that active activity is difficult due to other platform business provider's suspicions in the inside of business circles. But among business environment change into which is difficult for new PP into cable TV, satellite TV to penetrate, business providers wanting to seek new opportunities are anticipated to emerge in large numbers in case that IPTV will be introduced formally in the future. What is more, as fierce content security competition are forecast to be unfolded in case that Hanaro Telecom's Hana TV and KT's megapass TV will compete in market, new business opportunities are forecast to be enlarged in Internet data and VOD content field too, not real-time broadcasting. In fact, IPTV has awakened an unheard-of interest from broadcasting communication business circles alongside of the discussion of broadcasting communication structure. It is a dominant public opinion that it is advantageous to participate in it not to be in the near in an initiative hegemony of broadcasting communication convergence. Nevertheless, it is also not easy to rush into IPTV pilot business lightly considering investment burden about digital cable TV. In a word, business circles is in an IPTV dilemma. According to the persons concerned of cable TV business circles, it is said that they drafted to participate in IPTV pilot business first through cable TV SO CEO Corps. meeting at the end of September. But they said that concrete drafts are not prepared yet on which companies will become the principal axis and which technological mode will be adapted. Not only time or technology, but also participation justification are a problem. Active participation is burdensome to them. Cable TV vs IPTV, old vs new If we analyze the traits of cable TV and IPTV in the current market, cable TV gains an advantage over IPTV in terms of service or stability, but IPTV attempts to catch up with fund power and marketing power. While competition between cable TV and IPTV is forecast to become more fierce like this, a report which mentioned IPTV's growth possibility, is being watched. In September, LG Economic Research Institute issued a report to compare competitiveness between IPTV and cable TV. This report predicted that digital cable TV to be able to provide HD service would go ahead of IPTV in terms of stability, but if IPTV business providers utilize their fund power, its situation can be changed. The Institute diagnosed that from the current standpoint, digital cable TV gains an advantage in comparison with IPTV in terms of technological stability. The Institute said that since in the case of digital cable TV, its service offering history is long and its broadcasting system as well as set top box are being developed diversely, technological stability was verified. On the contrary, since in the case of IPTV whose service is under way at home, still technology and service's standard are not being prepared, a considerable time will be taken to provide stable service, the Institute said. In addition, in the case of cable TV HD many-channel is possible with HFC as its weapon, but since in the case of IPTV large-scale investment is needed, subscriber security is not easy. However, the Institute forecast that considering communication business circles' fund power and marketing capability providing IPTV, there is a possibility to reverse the progress of a battle anytime, the Institute explained. If experts as well as the concerned person's forecasts are right, new broadcasting communication convergence technology like IPTV will go to consumers eventually. Recently, cable TV business providers are raising cable TV fee gradually by upgrading into digital broadcasting, but will have no choice but to fix digital cable TV fee to secure subscriber if IPTV enters into the market. Considering precedences to date, services that reflected eventually the demand of recipient well, will become the final winner rather than the latest systems ever. Problems to have to solve are being laid in large numbers so that we may cope with broadcasting communication convergence well in the future. So, tasks to have to be solved most preferentially are divided into two things. The first task is to forge institutions and environment to receive broadcasting & communication's convergence effectively which is possible technologically and is being attained in a real market rapidly. That is to say, by allowing service business providers to be able to provide new service smoothly, associated authorities should endow the nation with a right to select diverse services. New technology and services which converged broadcasting and communication, are pouring down like water in a reservoir, but examples that can't be applied to current law and within the limit of institutions, are the majority. How gets about such words, "Technology is evolving fast like highspeed Internet circuit, but law and institution are slow like a telephone wire." It is a reality that law and institution have no choice but to follow technology, but in the case of IPTV, it is too late at the latest. Rational role assignment necessary In the past, we have experiences which are outstripped by competing countries due to law and institution problem though Korea holds opportunities to introduce service for the first time in the world. If the consolidation of law and institution drags behind, it is self-evident that enormous loss will happen not only in terms of technology competition, but also in terms of consumer public welfare. When policy and regulation and the most effective and rational role assignment between the government and the private discharge its role appropriately, numerous pending problems will show the first step toward the solution of the question. The Broadcasting Communication Convergence Propulsion Committee passed two months after it came into operation in earnest. From now on, all institutions as well as the persons concerned related not only with IPTV's service, but also with broadcasting communication convergence must watch carefully on how we will be able to solve tasks we hold with vigilance.