Telecom Companies Continue TV Fight

by Jordan Richardson on January 24, 2011

It seems that the telecommunications companies have butted heads with the cable companies for ages. As The Globe and Mail‘s Iain Marlow points out, the telecoms were largely dominated by the cable companies through most of the internet age. As consumers become more creative in obtaining programming, the telecommunications companies and cable groups are hoping to scrap it out for your top dollar.

Telecommunications executives believe that the “new battleground” in the industry is over the television set. With Telus having rolled out Optik TV and Bell coming into the field with its own service, the telecoms are positioning themselves.

That doesn’t mean that the cable cats are in trouble just yet, however, as they clearly possess the lion’s share of the markets. It’s also expensive for the telecommunications companies to roll out their services. According to Marlow’s reporting, the cost of adding one new customer to Optik TV can cost Telus as much as $1000 thanks to the hardware costs. The telecom company believes it’s worth it in the long run, though, but that may be wishful thinking.

Shaw doesn’t intend on being left in the cold when it comes to internet video content. Their plan is to offer a “new service” with new boxes that will allow customers the divine privilege of accessing internet content on their television sets. This means that they can check out sites like YouTube on their big screens.

Are these services really that remarkable, though? Many computer users have been connecting their laptops or netbooks to their larger television sets for years using a simple cable. Connecting to YouTube or other sites on a big screen isn’t the big splash that Shaw is hoping it will be, as many tech savvy customers are, as usual, miles ahead of what the cable giants are offering.

Telus, meanwhile, is hoping that its special features and wild promotions will help hook viewers. With Netflix and Apple TV working their way in, this becomes more serious than ever. Telus currently allows users to search the digital guide for programming based on certain variables. Customers can also program their PVRs from smart phones and use apps to search through programming. But is this really all that fantastic? Are these “new toys” really all that new? Or necessary?

With a host of services available for users to watch their favourite shows sans commercials, the telecommunications giants are going to have to work a little harder. The cable companies, too, will have to up the ante in their territory if they expect to gain ground. The real battle doesn’t appear to be between the cable companies and the telecom giants but rather between the consumers and the corporate behemoths who want their money.

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