Alticast gives KT Skylife leg up in OTT

As-a-service was another hot term at the recent IBC show, while cloud was by far the defining word. Neither of these are new, but both encapsulate technologies for launching quicker, smarter and more secure TV services – at an increasingly demanding rate. A press release which combined the two terms this week came from South Korean multiscreen platform provider Alticast, winning another deal on home turf with Korea Telecom’s DTH arm, KT Skylife.

Alticast’s Ambient TV Platform has been unveiled as the work horse behind KT Skylife’s OTT service Telebee, which launched just over a week ago. Alticast says the platform offers capabilities for the management, delivery, experience and security of content – declaring that the cloud-based TV-as-a-service (TVaaS) product can generate new revenue streams across multiple devices.

The release does not make it clear which devices it can actually run on, but a later version of the release talks about iOS asnd Android, and as it is described as OTT and TV Everywhere, we have to assume that Telebee can be viewed on smartphones and Tablets as well as the new dedicated set top, built by Xiaomi and running Google Android – we assume the special set top is like a media adaptor, set up for Adaptive Bit Rate rather than IPTV multicast delivery and constant bit rate. This compares with Korea Telecom’s Olleh TV, but Skylife Telebee in pricing terms are far apart, with Olleh TV costing between $12.50 and $30 a month, while Telebee costs $2.90 a month, unless you take the set top version which has a $78 upfront hardware cost.

KT Skylife says the portable Telebee set top can be connected via HDMI to TV sets or projectors.KT Skylife plans to offer most of the initial profits from Telebee to content providers, in a bid to attract more partners. Details on content partners or number of titles for Telebee aren’t yet available, although KT previously made its Skylife system a hybrid with 160,000 VoD assets, before launching its Olleh TV in 2012.

On the technology front, a key component of the TVaaS model is to offer operators and broadcasters a platform for building an OTT video service without having a hefty capex cost. Ambient TV’s modules allow control over publishing, business management, business intelligence, cloud DVR and content management, as well as a seamless delivery of TV Everywhere content.

Ambient TV is the product Alticast demoed at the Broadcast Asia trade show in Singapore this summer, and is a turnkey platform launched which incorporates multiple headend modules for scale across iOS, Android, HTML5, Windows and more, including UHD and multi-DRM content protection, a business intelligence system for providing key statistics, and resources that manage search and discovery metadata.

Ambient TV is not the same technology installed at South Korea’s largest phone company KT, which uses the AltiPlatform middleware core for supporting MHD and HTML5 clients, plus CMS which was used to upgrade KT’s OllehTV to nPVR and a new UI. Alticast’s AltiProtect was the original CAS DRM system at KT, but this was switched out on OTT to a multi-DRM system from local firm Inka Entworks.

This week’s deal is a big boost for Alticast as it was always in the shadow of Nagra, which currently secures KT Skylife with its anyCast Connect product, and we were expecting it to get ousted at some point. Although on KT’s new 4K set top, it insisted that subscribers are connected to the internet, so a new conditional access system was needed which had two-way communication and authentication.

However, Alticast is still struggling to find much traction outside of South Korea, despite keeping up with bigger players like Cisco, Nagra and Irdeto by strapping on additional revenue streams such as analytics. Although Videotron in Canada is a notable Alticast contract outside of South Korea and we hear it has won a deal for ER Telecom in Russia and await confirmation.

Alticast’s largest remote deployment is in its home country, supplying conditional access software to South Korea’s largest cable operator CJ Hellovision, a deal it won at the end of last year. This replaced a previous card-based system, using its patented remote switching technology, reducing maintenance costs.

Alticast recently extended the security capabilities of its AltiProtect multi-DRM product to 4K UHD running on Windows platforms. Alticast has integrated Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) technology, which it says eliminates exposure to untrusted areas, enables secure delivery of 4K UHD online video content from servers to client devices, and prevents copying of content from GPU to memory.

Another big deal earlier this year was the integration of Alticast’s interactive architecture on Ali set top SoC chipsets, providing a hybrid framework middleware in combination with high performance set top silicon.

“KT Skylife has a long history of anticipating new trends and staying ahead of the technology curve. By being first to market with Ambient TV, they rapidly and cost-effectively deliver a high quality, highly secure service that directly addresses the threat posed by SVoD providers,” said Joonhee Oh, head of Alticast’s cloud business unit.