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August 24, 2021

Telecom Convergence: Timeline

By GlobalData Thematic Research

Convergence has been a theme in the telecoms sector for some time. The theme has picked up considerable momentum in recent years, with operators increasingly bundling their offerings and expanding into adjacent areas through acquisitions.

Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the telecom convergence theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1982 – US regulators broke up the AT&T monopoly, with AT&T continuing to operate long-distance services.

1996 – The Telecommunication Act introduced full competition into US telecoms markets, helping enable convergence.

1997 – The European Commission published a green paper on the regulatory implications of telco, media, and information technology (IT) convergence.

1998 – The telecoms markets in most European Union (EU) member states were opened to competition.

2001 – Italian operator Fastweb laid claim to the first triple-play deployment, made up of voice, video, and data services.

2002 – Comcast’s acquisition of AT&T Broadband made it the largest cable TV company in the US.

2003 – Ofcom was established in the UK as a single regulator for the media and communications industries.

2004 – SBC signed a $400m, ten-year deal to deploy Microsoft’s Internet protocol TV (IPTV) software in its rollout of video services.

2005 – SBC acquired AT&T for $16bn and adopted the AT&T name.

2005 – Verizon acquired long-distance carrier MCI for $7.6bn.

2006 – Google bought the video-sharing website YouTube for $1.7bn.

2006 – Amazon launched its Video on demand (VoD) service, then known as Unbox, in the US.

2007 – Netflix launched its VoD service.

2009 – Verizon rolls out quad-play bundles in its Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets.

2009 – AT&T launched a quad-play bundle via a partnership with satellite TV operator DirecTV.

2011 – Comcast became the majority owner of NBCUniversal.

2013 – Comcast took full control of NBCUniversal, acquiring General Electric’s 49% share $16.7bn.

2014 – Virgin Media launched the UK’s first quad-play packages.

2014 – Deutsche Telekom unveiled the MagentaEINS portfolio, made up of fixed, TV, and mobile services.

2014 – Amazon launched Echo, its voice-activated speaker, which included the Alexa virtual assistant.

2015 – AT&T’s $48.5bn purchase of DirecTV made it the biggest pay TV company in the US.

2016 – BT completed the acquisition of EE, the UK’s largest mobile network.

2016 – Amazon’s VoD service rolled out worldwide.

2017 – The 3GPP signed off the first 5G specification, a major step towards commercial 5G networks.

2018 – Telefonica launched its Aura virtual assistant in six countries.

2018 – Significant merge and acquisition (M&A) activity, with AT&T buying Time Warner and Comcast buying Sky.

2019 – Disney+ and Apple TV+ direct-to-consumer Subscription video on demand (SVoD) services launched.

2019 – First 5G services launched in the US and Europe.

2020 – Discovery+ direct-to-consumer SVoD service launched.

2021 – Paramount+ direct-to-consumer SVoD service to launch.

This is an edited extract from the Telecom Convergence – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.