Strength in numbers at TelcoTV

One undercurrent of the TelcoTV 2009 event in Orlando this week is the concept of small independent telcos working together. Inspiring constituents to work as a team may be the mantra of many and an industry convention, but it seems to be nothing less than a pervasive meme being delivered by many different people and companies at this particular show.

Several speakers have noted that telcos need to work together to overcome economic and technological obstacles. To some degree, they have been talking about sharing information and experiences related to telco TV services. But in other cases they have been talking about literally partnering up--not via mergers and acquisitions (though consolidation may be welcome, too), but rather partnering with the mission of sharing network facilities or in the name of presenting equipment vendors and content owners with a potentially larger and higher-volume customer opportunity.

In some cases, sticking together means sharing resources, either equally or in a situation where one carrier becomes a host service provider for other service providers. To some extent, several telcos already have made this effort by sharing video headend resources. "We [small telcos] have to partner more," said Rob Riordan, executive vice president and director of corporate development for Nsight during the Wednesday keynote panel at TelcoTV. "We have done that with headends, but we have to look to do it even more as we enter new fields and offer new services."

Could partnering on network resources extend to middleware? 180Squared is appealing to that sensibility with a solution that enables hosted middleware that can be rented out to service providers who don't want to buy and manage (and constantly upgrade) their own middleware. Since middleware is often one of the most daunting investments for a telco TV provider, this idea makes a lot of sense.

"These guys trust one another," another vendor told FierceIPTV.

If small telcos can get partnering strategies to work to their advantage, it could define the next era of telco TV services.