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Europe to embrace triple play

It's a digital home thing

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The provision of triple play services - TV, broadband and phone - is set to become a major growth area as demand for converged services intensifies.

So say the researchers at technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. They predict the market for digital home services will take off in Europe over the next 12 months.

According to their report The Future Role of Cable in Shaping the Digital Home in Europe, the long-term winners will be those players able to offer "triple play" on a single bill at a decent price.

While many cablecos have pushed ahead with their triple play offerings, the research points out that an increasing number of telcoms providers are now forcing their way into the TV market.

"With that, the competition is set to steeply increase, although the balance of power remains uneven," the report says.

In the UK, the major players are already lining up to take a shot at securing their place in the digital home. NTL has bought fellow cableco Telewest to increase its clout, and now wants to nail down the acquisition of Virgin Mobile.

BSkyB, which has 9m pay-TV subscribers, recently bought the ISP Easynet to add broadband and phone services to its existing TV offering.

And BT is on track to unveil its broadband TV service later this year.

But success does not come cheap: NTL, BSkyB and BT will all need to invest megabucks to develop and expand their networks, and create new digital content. Even with that in place they will have to spend more cash trying to tempt customer to sign up to these services.

Size and financial strength are therefore becoming ever more important success factors, Booz Allen notes. ®

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