The number of subscribers to IPTV or internet protocol television services rose by nearly 180% in the 12 months to the end of June. Over 8.2 million homes now take such services, according to research from broadband analyst company Point Topic. The number of European homes with IPTV has risen by 230%.

Growth was strongest in Europe, with almost 5 million IPTV subscribers by the middle of 2007, up from 1.5 million a year ago. Around half of these were in France. The incumbent telco, France Telecom, now known to consumers as Orange, has been responding to the entry of new operators Free and Neuf.

All the major European incumbents now have IPTV products up and running. Telefonica in Spain added nearly 200,000 television subscribers during the same period and Belgacom signed up 120,000 in Belgium. Deutsche Telekom and BT have been slower to add subscribers to their telco TV services, with around 35,000 and 20,000 customers respectively.

Europe is ahead of Asia Pacific, which has 2.1 million IPTV subscribers, and the Americas with just over 1 million.

Orange is now the largest IPTV provider, with 837,000 subscribers, followed by PCCW in Hong Kong with 818,000, Telefonica in Spain with 450,000, Chunghwa in Taiwan with 333,000 and Belgacom in Belgium with 191,000.

The rest of the market is made up by around 35 operators with fewer than 100,000 subscribers. While the IPTV market is showing strong signs of growth, it remains relatively modest compared to that for pay-television and very small in comparison to the total number of television homes, or even the total number of broadcast customers.

“The number of IPTV subscribers will grow faster than most people think,” Michel Rahier, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s carrier business group told journalists at the Broadband World Forum. “There were 5 million at the end of 2006, 11 million at the end of this year and we will see between 70 and 100 million in 2010. Many analysts are confirming these figures.”

Such numbers are far higher than those projected by informitv for operator delivered services, but we expect the market for broadband video services to considerably exceed this.

Western Europe continues to have the most broadband users, with 72 million of the 86 million broadband subscribers receiving the service over a DSL phone line. The United States has over 62 million broadband subscribers, still slightly ahead of China with 59 million.

Around two-thirds of the 300 million broadband subscribers around the world receive the service over their phone line. 15 countries now have over three million DSL subscribers and nearly 30 have over one million subscribers.