By seemingly doing things back to front, Romania’s Romtelecom has secured more customers for its digital TV services than any other telco in Central and Eastern Europe.
Back in Q4 2006, the OTE-backed company surprised many observers by entering a DTH market already served by four platforms rather than launching an IPTV operation.
Against all odds, Dolce ended 2007 with almost 400,000 subscribers, and 14 months further down the line it has probably in the region of 600,000, making it the second most popular service after RCS/RDS’s Digi TV.
Romtelecom has now decided to take the battle directly to RCS/RDS by sharply cutting the cost of receiving both Dolce and Clicknet, the telco’s internet service. By making Dolce available for only around €3 a month, it expects to secure more subscribers at the expense of Digi TV.
Interestingly, the latter has always sold itself as the cut-price service, but recently, along with the rival platforms AKTA (formerly known as Max TV) and UPC’s Focus Sat, raised its fees.
Although Romania continues to defy the odds by supporting five DTH platforms, some consolidation looks almost inevitable, with Boom TV the most likely platform to be taken over. Indeed, it was reported only earlier this month that Romtelecom was in negotiations to buy Boom TV, though these were subsequently denied.
Yet with or without Boom TV, Romtelecom looks certain to remain a leading player in the country’s DTH market. What is more, it has now officially made known its intention to also launch an IPTV platform later this year.
By doing so, it will be following the reverse route to such counterparts as Poland’s TPSA and Hungary’s Magyar Telekom, both of which entered their respective TV markets by launching IPTV services and, when these failed to make the grade, moved into DTH. It is too soon to say how they will fare in the provision of satellite-delivered TV, but their actions should certainly be commended.
Romtelecom’s move into IPTV will meanwhile be interesting to follow. The likelihood is that it will be a successful one, given the experience the telco has already gained operating Dolce and the fact that there is at present no IPTV market to speak of in Romania, and certainly outside Bucharest.