» IPTV: It's all about the integration
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IPTV: It's all about the integration
By Carol Wilson

Jun 12, 2007 12:00 AM


Not only will NXTcomm feature a dramatically broader ranger of IPTV products, from middleware to set-top boxes to services, but its trade show floor will showcase those products actually working together.

As technology has matured, there have been more opportunities for IPTV equipment vendors to work together in cooperation to achieve levels of integration that make it easier for service providers to deploy video offerings with greater confidence. Through groups such as ATIS and the Open TV Alliance, the industry is working to make plug-and-play a reality in the IPTV world, even as both vendors and service providers are proceeding full steam ahead with their own efforts.

Progress on both fronts will be evident at NXTcomm.

Ericsson -- which with the acquisition of Tandberg TV, along with Entrisphere and Redback, is putting together its own IPTV ecosystem -- nonetheless is very much focused on how to tie other parts together for its customers and is showcasing those efforts. The company will be showcasing the work of the Open IPTV Forum, a group announced in March, to pull together all the diverse standards of the communications and entertainment industries into one end-to-end IPTV standard.

"We focus quite a bit on the Open IPTV Forum as well at NXTcomm and how we need to build IPTV together," said Eliot Freed, marketing manager for Ericsson. "Basically, it is a group dedicated to setting standards for building IPTV, mainly based on IMS [IP multimedia subsystem]. There are different companies involved -- it is a mixture of operators like France Telecom, AT&T, then vendors like us, Nokia Siemens, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Telecom Italia. It is an open forum. With some of the bigger device makers like Sony participating, we are incorporating what electronics manufacturers are doing in their sphere."

In addition, Ericsson is participating, along with many others in the Digital Living Network Alliance, a group devoted to aligning the mobile communications, PC and consumer electronics industries, to "show how people can more easily connect their devices," Freed said.

In addition, a number of equipment vendors are partnering to show end-to-end IPTV operations. For example, Falcon IP/Complete and SES Americom are both showing end-to-end deployments of the technology rural telcos need to deploy IPTV. Falcon's "Bird to Box" approach includes everything from satellite transmission of content down to the set-top box, using Thomson/Grass Valley SmartVision middleware, Veramatrix conditional access and digital rights management, and Tandberg video technology. The company will even provide local access gear such as DSLAMs for the MPEG-4-based service, said CEO Don Cook.

SES Americom is working with the National Rural Telephone Cooperative to launch IP Prime, its full-service IPTV solution, that can be delivered as a content service or as a full end-to-end solution that can be quickly deployed, said Tanya Sullivan, vice president of NRTC.

Amino is building its set-top box business globally by being middleware-agnostic and is finding that's a lucrative place to be, said Rick Saylor, vice president of sales. We will work with any middleware," he said. "Minerva and Myrio [now part of Nokia Siemens Networks] are the two biggest players for us today, but we also have Thomson, Kasenna and Orca deployments."

Cisco Systems also is showing its set-top box running with multiple middleware providers, including Microsoft, Myrio and Minerva, said Pankaj Gupta, senior manager of marketing for IPTV and consumer services.

"Our solutions do not lock you with certain middleware," he said. "Each middleware brings a different value-add. Customers can choose. That's a big differentiation."

It's particularly important that service providers not get locked into one vendor and be at the mercy of what the vendor's problems may be, Gupta said.

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