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The December 20, 2004 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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IPTV at FastWeb: Marketing Lessons from Europe

We were unable to attend this fall's TelcoTV conference in Orlando, and were disappointed to miss the session "Successful Marketing Lessons from Europe". This session featured Francesca Mari, Director, Marketing and iTV Services of FastWeb in Italy, and Ervin Leibovici, CEO of Bitband. BitBand, based in Israel, provides its Vision™ video servers to FastWeb, and together they have many years experience with VOD over FTTH and ADSL.

We have previously written about FastWeb (see Fastweb's Success: Innovation Plus Results) and BitBand (see VOD Over Broadband - BitBand Inc.), and were very interested in hearing about their shared experience with VOD.

Leibovici was kind enough to provide the following summary, capturing some of the key take-aways discussed in the session:

"FastWeb, Italy’s leading provider of commercial converged triple-play services via FTTH and ADSL, recognized the great potential of VOD and is now a world leader with greater than 450,000 subscribers in more than ten major Italian cities and some 25 percent penetration of IP-TV. The joint European experience of FastWeb and BitBand proves that VOD for IP-TV is real and profitable. By deploying VOD, FastWeb has been able to quickly move into new markets and achieve sustainable higher levels of customer satisfaction, resulting in faster return on investment cycles.

Video Via Broadband – The Building Blocks

Commercially successful IP-TV depends mainly on offering and marketing to the consumer the right mixture of content, including new and popular movies and TV series. To achieve a compelling user experience via its FTTH and DSL infrastructures, FastWeb has chosen a solution which is scalable, offers quality of service and allows easy integration into its existing hardware and software environment. BitBand provides FastWeb with this combination through its video servers which can be scaled to the customer’s service characteristics, such as initial number of streams and amount of content, and their growth patterns.

BitBand servers at FastWeb --> Click for larger pictureBuilding upon these characteristics, FastWeb launched its VOD services in 2001 using a cluster of 1U BitBand Vision 190 servers integrated with FastWeb’s own iTV application. In a short time, scaling the system by clustering, it grew into large clusters distributed in four cities.

When FastWeb launched ADSL services in addition to its original services over fiber, one of the requirements was to refrain from doubling the server infrastructure and employ the same content from the same servers for all subscribers, connected by fiber or ADSL alike. Indeed, in August 2003, FastWeb made all of its services available to all subscribers.

Creativity in Marketing – Focus on Innovation and Differentiation

FastWeb's main focus in marketing its offering has been service innovation and differentiation. FastWeb provides its services to all market segments (large, medium and small sized business, small offices and home offices, residential clients) in the main Italian cities of Milan, Rome, Turin, Genoa, Naples, Bologna, Padova, Reggio Emilia and Bari. VOD services offer more than 5,000 online titles on-demand, with new programs available on a weekly basis. This is a combination of prime studio content provided by e.BisMedia, and the RAI video archive (RAI Click). FastWeb integrates these services with an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) containing all the information on current and upcoming programs and a virtual network video recording system (VideoRec).

FastWeb customers receive constant updates on the TV offerings through various marketing tools such as the online program guide, search engines, monthly paper guide distributed to all subscribers and available in stores, and a newsletter notifying customers of new premium content available.

FastWeb Today

FastWeb cities in Italy --> Click for larger pictureFastWeb is a world-leading, new-generation service provider, with a half million subscribers in more than ten major cities in Italy and more than 25 percent penetration of IP-TV. It is a fast growing and successful business, attracting subscribers with its compelling offering of triple-play services, based on leading edge technologies."

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