Archive for February, 2013

Cable Congress Conference Sting

Welcome to Cable Congress 2013

The importance of the DOCSIS standards has been the scale of deployment…

Ahead of Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Luc Martens, CEO of Excentis about the importance of DOCSIS for the cable industry and more...

Luc Martens CEO Excentis Cable Europe SpeakerYou are a CEO at the crossroads of the cable industry and the vendor community on which it relies. Tell us a bit about how you work with both communities. Excentis supports Cable Europe Labs in developing standard specifications for products and services suitable for cable operators in Europe, resulting in sufficient scale for product and service price reductions. We offer cable operators all kinds of services such as solving issues in operations, executing operator specific test programs, and support for complex technology implementations.

On the other hand, we also provide services to the vendor community to help them improving the quality of their products. The certification activity is a process that audits the quality of the vendors’ products, a first step towards the successful deployment of the product in the cable operators’ networks.

You work with Cable Europe Labs on a certification programme. What is certification and why is it important to European cable companies? Certification is a program that Excentis executes on behalf of Cable Europe Labs to test the compliance of products used for internet communication (EuroDOCSIS standards), Voice over IP (EuroPacketCable standards), Multimedia services (EuroPacketCable Multimedia standard), and enhanced voice/video telephony and mobility services based on IMS specifications (EuroPacketCable 2.0 standard) over the cable access networks. Compliance of submitted products is verified to all parts of the specifications from physical layer, MAC layer, security, OSS to specific features related to telephony or other services or functions of the mentioned standards. Based on the test reports of Excentis, the certification board composed of members of Cable Europe Labs decides on the certification status of the product.

The certification is not a European legal requirement -it can be considered as a quality label program. Vendors submit their products on demand of the operators.

Certification is important because it is a first step in reducing the number of issues in operations, therefore also contributing to the reduction in OPEX for the operators. It also reduces the number of tests that each individual operator is running in its test lab. These tests of the operators are therefore typically only performance tests and tests related to operator specific configurations and features that complement the certification tests.

Technology is a sector where everything seems to go a bit faster whether looking at production cycles, technology advances, computing power or network speeds. Are vendors doing a good job of keeping up with the cable industry’s needs for better, faster and more energy efficient products? In the cable industry, the operators and vendors are collaborating all the time on new product and service specifications. Because vendors are involved in the specification development, they are very well prepared for the implementations of the products needed by the cable industry. Through the certification and other testing services that Excentis offers, vendors can rapidly improve the quality of their products.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Interview with Martin Kull

In the run-up to Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Martin Kull, CEO of Vestacon about industry priorities for 2013 and big cable opportunities.

Martin KullWhat big technological developments have you seen that have impacted the market in a way that would be visible to the average European consumer? The evolution of high quality and high speed access networks with Cable and Fibre in the clear lead has enabled high speed broadband and with that streaming TV-services. Together with WiFi, TV Everywhere is soon a reality.

From a technology standpoint, what are cable’s priorities for 2013? To take the early VOD deployments to embrace personalization and a true multiscreen experience.

Looking more broadly at strategy, what are some of the big opportunities that you see lie ahead for the European cable industry? Europe is still fragmented when it comes to Over-the-top services, partly due to the many different languages. I see strong opportunities for Cable operators to take the role of an OTT-aggregator – just like Cable aggregated Broadcast services in early days of TV distribution.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Martin will be moderating the CTO PANEL on Day 1 at this year’s Cable Congress.

“Developing Ireland’s Digital Economy is a priority for jobs growth” – An Taoiseach

DUBLIN 8.45 AM – 21ST February, 2013 – “Digital technology developments have the power to contribute strongly to economic recovery and new employment opportunities for Ireland,” said An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., addressing a UPC Ireland discussion forum on Jobs, The Economy and Ireland’s Digital Future.

Hosted by UPC Ireland CEO, Dana Strong, this morning’s discussion forum follows from the recent independent report commissioned by UPC on Ireland’s Digital Future, researched and written by Gerard O’Neill, Chairman of Amárach Research.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. said:
“The digital economy has a major role to play in our country’s economic recovery, with Ireland on its way to becoming the digital capital of Europe.   We welcome the arrival of global digital brands into Ireland and the contribution they make to our economy and society.  The ongoing challenge for Government is to prevent a two-tier digital economy from developing and to ensure that Irish small and medium sized businesses are encouraged to embrace the opportunities new digital technologies can offer.

“I want to see all Irish businesses live up to their potential and have the ability to compete globally.  For the Government’s part, we will work to create a supportive and flexible enterprise environment so that Ireland’s digital economy can continue to go from strength to strength.”

The UPC Report on Ireland’s Digital Future projects a doubling in the Irish internet economy to €11.3 billion annually by 2016 if current trends are maintained.   This will be underpinned by 2.6m Irish online shoppers spending €5.7 Bn (7% of all consumer spending) in 2016, compared to €3.7 Bn in 2012.

While the internet economy currently accounts for roughly 3% of Irish GDP, this is set to double to 6% over the next three years.

Using the Booz & Company Digitisation Index, the report estimates that this can translate into employment of 18,000 or more if Irish society and industry can keep pace with the digitisation levels of our EU neighbours and particularly our UK and Scandinavian counterparts.

UPC Ireland CEO, Dana Strong said:
“The prize from greater digital uptake will be obtained for Ireland if we can use Irish based innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity to create enhanced revenues and jobs for industry and particularly for small and medium businesses with export potential”.

(more…)

Cisco clarifies STB commitment

By Colin Mann, Advanced Television

Cisco executives have taken steps to clarify the company’s commitment to its set-top box business in the wake of comments made in an analyst call by Chairman and CEO John Chambers that that it was “walking away” from low-margin STB business.

Writing in a Cisco blog posted by Senior Vice President and General Manager Service Provider Video Technology, Jesper Andersen, his colleague Joe Chow, Vice President and General Manager, Connected Devices Business Unit, reveals that the company received questions about its commitment to certain elements of its set-top box business. “Comments were made that Cisco is walking away from low-margin deals. I would like to clear up any confusion surrounding those comments here,” he says.

In Chow’s words: “Cisco remains committed to providing world-class managed customer premise equipment (CPE), which includes digital set-tops, intelligent media gateways and other devices. CPE is an integral part of Cisco’s end-to-end Videoscape TV services delivery platform. For emerging markets, CPE enables Cisco to offer a complete end-to-end solution for new customers as they launch and grow their digital platforms. For customers with more advanced video platforms and in more advanced video markets, CPE provides a key strategic advantage and opportunity for Cisco.”

Chow notes that as service providers transition from traditional video architectures where intelligence resides in end-point devices to new architectures with intelligence migrating to the cloud and network, set-top solutions are also evolving. “Traditional video set-tops are transforming into intelligent video and data gateways with more advanced software features and services. These new unified gateways deliver video and other services to basic set-top boxes or consumer purchased end-point devices such as tablets or televisions. This architecture enables service providers to extend their network deeper into consumers’ homes, providing a more synchronised and immersive experience for their consumers,” he suggests.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Virgin Media and Liberty Global leaders meet at Cable Congress #CC2013

The big news that Liberty Global has secured a deal to acquire Virgin Media for US$23.3 billion signals a change at the top of the global cable business and has stoked excitement and interest well beyond the tech sector. Such a combination translates into a world leading broadband communications company with 25 million customers spanning across 14 countries.

In less than two weeks’ time, executives of Virgin Media and Liberty Global and other leading cable executives will convene at Cable Congress to give an inside edge on the latest news that you won’t get anywhere else, share their opinions and predictions and, together with other key industry leaders, discuss the bright future of cable and its customers.

Watch our exclusive CEO interview with Mike Fries, the President and CEO of Liberty Global at 16.30 on Day 1 when Becky Anderson, CNN presenter takes the stage to ask the burning industry questions everyone wants to hear.

Also, be sure not to miss the CEO Keynote Speech at 14.00 on Day 1 when you will hear from Neil Berkett, the CEO of Virgin Media.

Cable Congress 2013 will feature the launch of new industry data with the contribution of fresh IHS Screen Digest data, the latest trends and an incredible line-up of industry all-stars across cable, content, technology and new media. New content, programme updates and speaker interviews are being added regularly to www.cablecongress.comwe’re getting hundreds of hits a day so come see why.

The Online Networking Tool is now live and by registering to attend the conference, you have the opportunity to spend the next two weeks scheduling one-to-one business meetings with Cable Congress delegates.

CABLE CONGRESS GALA PARTY hosted by Virgin Media_small

The Cable Congress Gala Party is an informal get-together for all participants, taking place on 5th March at The London Film Museum. The evening is not only an ideal networking opportunity, but will also offer quintessentially British culinary and cultural experiences, with a sprinkling of entertainment throughout. Read more here.

Gapa party photos

PREMIER OF ‘RECTIFY’ SERIES Sundance Channel

You will be treated to a special screening of the first episode of ‘Rectify’ from the award-winning producers of Breaking Bad, taking place on Day 2 during a special drinks reception. Watch this special sneak peak of Rectify, which premieres exclusively on Sundance Channel this spring!

Interview with Steve Oetegenn

Ahead of Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Steve Oetegenn, CMSO at Verimatrix, about the evolving world of security in the cable marketplace. Verimatrix is the Revenue Security sponsor for this year’s Cable Congress.

Why does Verimatrix tend to speak about Revenue Security rather than Conditional Access? The key issue here is that we approach security from a business perspective rather than a focus on a single technology. The array of threats to the pay-TV business is evolving as rapidly as the devices that the customers use. So we need to take a multi-dimensional approach to address these threats and ultimately provide a  future proof security strategy focused on enabling new business models and securing revenue streams.

What seem to be the latest trends in revenue security for cable service operators? I find it fascinating to see how quickly the landscape is changing! Whereas OTT was seen as a threat to cable operators a couple of years ago, the technology is now being co-opted as a key component of new competitive service offerings. The debate rages about the pros and cons of mega-gateway devices to provide whole home services. And the advent of the tablet has provided a premium portable TV experience inside and outside of the household.

All this means that the security challenges for operators are increasingly multi-network in nature – and highly dynamic in terms of underlying technology. Operators are seeking to eliminate the technology-centric distribution and consumption silos that often frustrate consumers and can nudge them towards alternative sources.

There shouldn’t be any artificial gaps between what a consumer sees on the big screen attached to a cable and what they see on the small screen of a tablet.  I’m not talking about interface look and feel, which is often necessarily different to take advantage of the natural strengths of a given device, but rather content selection, preferences and usage models.  It’s when a subscriber experiences an adverse difference between viewing options for a given program across devices – often decreased quality of experience (QoE) – that has a tendency to encourage piracy or sign up for disparate services.

In a world that is becoming increasingly multi-screened, what challenges are facing content providers when it comes to content rights and protection? Many operators are employing advanced protection mechanisms to secure their next-generation OTT premium content services.  Many of these techniques, which feature fine grain control mechanisms, have already been successfully deployed to secure more mature pay-TV networks, like managed IPTV and DVB.  It is essential that security levels for OTT multi-screen services need to at least meet the equivalent level of security and control currently applied for traditional pay-TV distribution. In fact, we have explored this issue in detail in a recent white paper, “Content Security Requirements for Multi-Screen Video Services” where we find important benchmarks and trends in multi-screen protection requirements.

It is especially clear that rights management between the pay-TV and OTT environments should be carefully controlled since glitches in this aspect of delivery cause havoc on the management of overall subscriber expectations. Most importantly, a single security platform clearly opens up the potential for flexible business models that can help up-sell OTT content for premium services and cross-sell over multi-network, multi-screen distribution. Such OTT business and rights management models are in a stage of being defined, and redefined.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

CABLE CONGRESS 2013: On Day 2/Wed 6th at 14:00 Steve Oetegenn will be speaking in the marketing track on “The Changing Face of Revenue Security.” Click here for the latest agenda.

Serendipitous Investments Spell a Win, Win for Cable

By Guy Bisson

The majority of UK television channels could save money on their standard-definition broadcast costs by using Over-The-Top (OTT) Unicast to fulfil their actual viewing demand rather than the most cost effective broadcast technology. That was a key finding in a recent report we produced as a follow up to our earlier analysis that showed scaling OTT delivery to platform levels was not cost effective at current cost levels.

These two findings place the cable industry in an interesting position. On the one hand cable (and other multichannel broadcast platforms of scale), can remain confident that in the near-term, OTT-only competitors will face rapidly scaling costs when trying to replicate a full-service pay TV offer (and even more so when HD is considered). On the other hand, low-consumption channels may soon be considering whether a switch to OTT distribution as primary means of reaching the end consumer is starting to make sense.

As with many things in business, threat is opportunity and opportunity, threat. The threat: longer term, OTT distribution will begin to provide an alternative to closed network multichannel for individual channels wishing to reach a mass audience. But if the threat is clear, the opportunity is three fold. Opportunity lies in the positioning of cable as a platform for distributing OTT content, both to the end consumer, but also in the business-to-business segment of the TV distribution value chain, working with channels to distribute their signal as a CDN and last mile channel.

And what makes the situation so interesting today is through the miracle of happenstance, cable finds itself in an ideal position to fulfil these roles. Happenstance because the infrastructure investments made by cable operators in fibre and DOCSIS 3.0 where not done to facilitate OTT delivery but to diversify revenue streams when the core business of television was under increasing competitive and price pressure. And just how far cable has come from its days as a distributor of television only is evidenced in the fact that as of 2012, nine of the 27 markets in the European Union derive more cable revenue from telecoms services than from television.

For channels themselves, the reality of the business is that a switch today to only OTT Unicast delivery would be commercial suicide for all but the most niche of channels. Success in the TV channel business still requires reach. And the other factors that go into the reach equation, notably consumer behaviour and service availability, are still lacking.
OTT costs today are not substitutive and will remain incremental on broadcast for the near to medium term. The burden placed by the need to meet increasing OTT demand on larger-consumption channels, which must maintain fixed broadcast costs, is thus potentially onerous.

For business, that means there will be increasing demand for a solution to these costs as OTT consumption continues to scale. The larger the channel, the bigger the problem. The future of broadcast infrastructure provision will thus rely on finding a way to bundle flat-rate OTT delivery with some form of broadcast distribution for the scheduled feed.

For cable finding a way to capitalise on that long-term future will pay dividends. With a wired network, consumer-facing ISPs and an increasingly strong stake in the distribution of multiscreen content around the home, cable is a long, long way down that path already. The rationale for major take-overs that bolster pan-European footprints like the recent proposed take-over of Virgin Media by Liberty Global, start to take on a whole new perspective beyond the usual analysis of free cash flow and business synergies when this future is considered.

Amárach Report on Ireland’s Digital Future by UPC

REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Seize the Future
Ireland is in the middle of a revolution – a digital revolution. For all the economic difficulties and challenges we have faced in recent years, the story of digital technology in Ireland is a story of success.

Comparisons with other countries show that Ireland is on par or even ahead of OECD and EU nations when it comes to several key measures of digital adoption.

Ireland’s future progress towards the digital future will help us solve some of the economic problems we now face. Improving access to higher broadband speeds in households and businesses opens up new opportunities for citizens, consumers, employers and employees. By seizing the digital future, Ireland can secure a higher standard of living through faster economic growth, as well as tackling the scourges of unemployment and emigration through the creation of new jobs, new services and new businesses.

The Size of the Prize
If Ireland simply follows the trend in other countries at a similarly advanced stage of digitisation, then the Internet’s contribution to our economy will grow from about 3% of GDP at present to 6% by 2016.

That’s an increase in the value of Ireland’s digital economy from under €5 billion this year to over €11 billion in 2016, creating new jobs and new businesses along the way.

As for jobs potential, raising the level of digitisation in Ireland to that of our nearest neighbour, the UK, would reduce the numbers unemployed in Ireland by nearly 18,000; with even bigger reductions possible if the level rose to that of the leading Scandinavian countries.

The Surveys
UPC commissioned Amárach Research to carry out two, parallel surveys in August 2012: the first was an online survey comprising 1,000 adults aged 16 and over, representative of Ireland’s population; and the second comprised a telephone and web survey of 201 IT decision-makers in Irish SMEs and larger corporations, with quotas to ensure a cross-section of companies by size. The surveys were carried out on an entire market wide basis and included customers of all telecommunications providers.

Life Online
Already, 8 in 10 adults use the Internet in Ireland, up from fewer than 5 in 10 in 2007. Indeed, broadband take-up in Ireland matches the EU average at two thirds of homes. The Internet is now a vital part of our everyday lives, and shapes how we work, relax, learn and shop. Internet users spend 156 minutes (2.6 hours) online on a typical weekday, rising higher at the weekend. On average there are two or more people using broadband in every home, with two or more devices connected at the same time – as smartphones become more common, more people and devices will be connected. Shopping and social networks are the most popular online activities, while a third of adults already use the Internet at home for work purposes. 6 in 10 workers are expected to work from home some or all of the time by 2016.

The Irish are digital optimists, and look forward to a host of new services that will enable them to study, shop, work and share from the comfort of their home in future. Indeed, half of all adults would be interested in running their own business from home at some stage, facilitated by digital technologies.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

Invitation from Matthias Kurth

Matthias Kurth Executive Chairman Cable Europe at Cable Congress - NEWDear Friends,

It is my great pleasure this year to welcome you to Cable Congress 2013 in London, Europe’s undisputed Digital Capital while we hold our flagship event in one of the most connected cities in the world. Last year I was a guest at Cable Congress while this year I welcome you as one of the hosts – change, one of the givens in industry that keeps us all on our toes.

The cable industry is ultimately a consumer driven business and the European consumer is sophisticated, connected and certainly not interested in waiting around for content. Our job is to deliver on that consumer experience when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. The fibre-rich high speed networks that we’re known for play an important if not sometimes invisible role in this regard.

You can be sure that our spectacular line-up of CEO interviews will touch on all of the business strategies built around staying a step ahead of consumer needs. You will also have an unmissable meeting of the minds as CTOs make a transatlantic bridge connecting the technology to the consumer. And it won’t surprise you to see how much our business is content-driven. We are proud of our premium content and to demonstrate this, you will be treated the premier of a series from a very big player in the content market.

Have a great time, do be sure to take advantage of the best networking date on the calendar and remember why you’re here: Cable is that unique crossroads of technology and content that keeps the consumers entertained, informed and connected – just like this year’s Cable Congress.

Best regards,

Matthias Kurth
Executive Chairman
Cable Europe

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