Archive for September, 2012

Pushing boundaries: next-gen cable services

As European cable operators tentatively begin to roll out next generation platforms, Graham Pomphrey, Digital TV Europe (@DTVEGraham) assesses the chosen strategies and considers the challenges being faced.

On the Horizon

Although we are at an early stage, the maturing of some western pay TV markets, and the potential for saturation within them, has seen some operators look to advance their already popular services. The strategy is to either upsell additional services like huge VOD libraries, connected TV functionality and associated broadband connection, or to attract often scarce new subscribers. Virgin Media and Ono are already doing the former with TiVo technology, Zon Multimédia is using NDS-based middleware for its Iris platform while Liberty Global’s Horizon is set to launch in the Netherlands in the third quarter, to be followed by Switzerland, Germany, and Ireland later this year.

Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries has said Horizon will have a transformative effect on the company by enabling the cable giant to satisfy consumer demand to be able to draw content from the web to the TV, and to receive their ‘cable’ experience across multiple screens. “It will set our customer’s expectations and the quality of the consumer experience at a whole new level,” Fries told DTVE at the Cable Congress event earlier this year.

There is no doubt that Liberty Global has a strong market position, with a customer base of around 18.4 million and existing relationships with content partners. The biggest challenge is how to market the service. With around 10 million subscribers taking analogue services and operations in various emerging markets, Liberty Global, will need to market the service carefully. Fries has already said that Horizon will be “not that expensive”.

Making progress

While Horizon has been on the metaphorical horizon for some time – reports first emerged about the platform as far back as 2010 – cable operators Virgin Media and Ono have already launched services that merge traditional TV with web services. Partnering with US middleware-and-DVR specialist TiVo, both operators have been able to pioneer advanced services in their respective countries.

Virgin Media’s TiVo platform allows users to pause and rewind TV, offers advanced search and recommendation, provides access to catch-up services from the UK’s public broadcasters, including iPlayer, and offers access to web apps from Twitter, eBay, Facebook and Spotify amongst others.


Zon Multimedia aims to introduce individual user profiles

Zon Multimedia plans to introduce individual profiles for different family members and users

Portuguese pay TV company Zon Multimedia plans to introduce individual profiles for different family members and users within a household as a future iteration of its next-generation Iris advanced TV service, according to José Alberto Pascoal, head of operations and infrastructure management at Zon.

Taking part in the international technology summit at the ANGA Cable congress yesterday, Pascoal said Zon also wanted to add social networking with Facebook integration to its Iris service. Iris was initially bundled with Zon’s 100Mbps offering. To increase take up it has now lowered the speed requirement, which Pascoal said had significantly boosted take-up of the service.

Referring to Zon’s experience of connected TV to date, Pascoal said, “Smart TV needs to be standardised or it will die”. Zon introduced a smart TV widget on an LG TV model but Pascoal said the company was frustrated by the fact it had to develop a new app for each model.

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Interview with Paul Bristow, ADB at Cable Congress 2012

Exclusive Interview with Neelie Kroes: Rocking the Tech World – Part 2


5. Do you see technology policy as a good area for Transatlantic cooperation? Why or why not?

The answer is simply yes.
The word technology can be defined in various ways, but all of them are intrinsically international. The most recent Internet technology knows no borders and cannot be contained in a nation state. I believe the recent developments in Northern Africa provide ample proof of that. Also, in terms of the more traditional technology, information and communication goods and services travel much more rapidly than some other goods. Technological developments and businesses go global immediately.

While I do not underestimate the developments in many countries, not least China, India, South Korea and Japan, I do believe that both the USA and the European Union play a leading role. The USA is known for its various billion dollar companies having grown from garages. European companies have led the way in touch screen technology and mobile communications. The European Union also boasts enormous developments in areas like eHealth, eGovernment and other ICT applications used in our every day life.

Transatlantic cooperation is not only a desire, it is a reality. Apart from the regular meetings that are organised between the European Union and the USA there are a couple of specific elements of cooperation that I wish to highlight:

Firstly, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with my American counterpart last year on cooperation in the area of eHealth.


Interview with Luis Lopes, Zon Multimedia at Cable Congress 2012

The Revolution Will Be Televised (pick a screen)

Change seldom comes with warning but is always expected in the technology sector. 2011 brought us a new chief at Apple, HP having decided to spin off its PC business, Motorola being sold to Google and the loss of another woman tech leader after Carol Bartz’s high profile Yahoo! exit. In the meantime, social media applications have helped the world keep an eye on big change in the Middle East.

Disruption Central

Also no stranger to changes of late, Rupert Murdoch once said that “the world is changing very fast and that the big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.” This certainly applies to the role of the screen.
No such thing as a TV anymore?

Time Warner’s Chairman and CEO, Glenn Britt caused a stir this year by casually (and publicly) signalling the beginning of a new era where content is more important than how we view it, “There’s no such thing as a TV anymore.” It’s not a fatalistic remark, however. It is a heads up for the business of providing content. EU and worldwide policy makers are not free of the associated challenges. The management of copyright and rights clearance is a task that won’t get easier for business or policymakers. Streamlining will require effort that is widely seen as needed for Europe’s ever-modernizing single market.

I want it all, I want it now

tvThe number of devices is increasing. If you’re not watching a video clip on YouTube from your laptop, you might be checking the news on your handheld device or sending a tweet on your iPad – all with the TV on. We access content daily without thinking twice about the devices we’re using. Content passes through an increasing number of devices much more easily than in the past. Once a buzzword, convergence is something that consumers simply expect. It’s why cable providers are integrating their video services through broadband access, iPads and PCs.


Exclusive Interview with Neelie Kroes: Rocking the Tech World – Part 1

Cable Europe’s Gregg Svingen talks to Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for Europe’s Digital Agenda in exclusive interview on cable, the net and girl power.

Entering Commissioner Kroes’ space at the European Commissions’ Headquarters in Brussels, it is hard not to notice an imposing brick sitting in the middle of her glass table.
A closer look reveals the word ‘Nee’, or Dutch for ‘No’. It’s a helpful reminder about this tech woman’s resolve in executing Europe’s Digital Agenda brick by brick (and a few clicks, too).

1. What are you doing to get more women involved in technology and more generally in business and policy making?

I am concerned that not enough women are engaged in this interesting and exciting sector. I am working with my colleagues in the European Parliament and interested Ministers to address this general skills shortage in the sector. In my view, the ICT sector must find a new gender balance if it wants to avoid underperformance. Our goal of “Every European digital” means getting European woman digital too. The issue is not new: over the years, my services have undertaken a number of activities in this area which have led me to the conclusion that we need to work together with business. We have developed a code of best practice which has over 60 signatories from multinationals, academia, SMEs and NGOs and has helped influence the way these companies attract, recruit, train and retain women in this sector. But we still need to do more to get girls into this field.


Post by Jan de Grave, VP Corporate Office & Sustainability, Telenet

Sustainability at Telenet: a LEAP of faith

Telenet’s admission in 2011 to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) could yet turn out to be a watershed moment for the cable industry. You can think of sustainability as a feel-good issuethat you can support when it’s convenient to do so. Or you can think of it as the emerging context in which business must operate, and embrace the challenges and opportunities it brings.

What are we doing to achieve our mission? Our specially-constructed sustainability programme, LEAP (it stands for Linking Environment and Profit) focuses on three core areas of activity: Connect, Care and Cascade. Connect means making our services available to the best of our ability to all customers including the underprivileged. Instrumental in this approach is our Telenet Foundation that supports ICT programs at schools and hospitals. Care means that Telenet is actively caring for its direct environment and employees.  Finally the Cascade area of activites is representing the efforts of Telenet in the field of helping others with better application of our services. The LEAP program has three key objectives that are to be achieved by 2015:


Interview with Tomas Franzen, Com Hem AB at Cable Congress 2012

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