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Chance of survival as MediaKind gives DT taste of upgrade

Stop the press – it looks like MediaKind might have genuinely developed some new technology.

The recently remolded Ericsson Media Solutions announced two Deutsche Telekom extension deals this week, at Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic, to upgrade the Mediaroom technology currently powering the Magio IPTV service in Slovakia and Magenta 1 IPTV platform in the Czech Republic.

But while MediaKind talks about providing the two operators with a pathway for future cloud migration and the introduction of virtualized architectures, through a converged and scalable TV system, not a crumb of explanation about the upgrade was provided in the press release. We have reached out to our contact there in hope of getting some scraps to feed off, but until then, let’s take a quick look at what we do know.

At Slovak Telekom, the Magio Go TV Everywhere service, which is free to pay TV subscribers, uses the HLS protocol and is based on Slovak Telekom’s MCore converged multiscreen application framework, which delivers converged TV applications and services to IPTV, hybrid satellite and OTT customers.

This MCore framework used Mediaroom 1.2 as its IPTV platform, which then transitioned to Mediaroom 1.6. However, this system wasn’t capable of meeting Slovak Telekom’s expansion requirements, so MCore 2 was developed to focus on a modern cloud architecture for web, mobile and IPTV applications, with enhanced streaming and transcoding services.

This was integrated by Slovakian IT services firm Tempest, using the OS Windows Server 2008 .NET framework for the application core, ASP.NET MVC for web applications and MS Expression Encoder for encoding. MCore2 increased the speed of the platform, allowing for an improved UI and EPG. The transcoding module enables conversion of arbitrary video and audio files to pre-defined formats. The newer pay TV system runs the Zenterio OS, an independent software stack for set tops enabling hardware flexibility, with the Swedish vendor a long-standing favorite of Deutsche Telekom, now used almost exclusively across its footprint.

We presume the exact same system is in place at T-Mobile Czech Republic, considering the two subsidiaries are virtually joined at the hip with executives overseeing the two as a single unit due to the market similarities. One difference we noticed is that in the Czech Republic, T-Mobile’s TV Everywhere service appears to be nameless and costs $8.70 a month on top of the Magenta 1 IPTV and T-Mobile Sat TV services, running on set tops from South Korea’s Kaonmedia, while Slovak Telekom prefers Arris and Tatung for IPTV set tops, while ADB supplies satellite receivers.

By “upgrading and further extending” the Mediaroom platform, MediaKind says Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic can deliver highly personalized services to subscribers, including linear and on-demand video, extensive metadata, archive TV, advanced privacy and parental control.

As MediaKind explained at IBC, it now has four “solutions” separate to the Mediaroom IPTV and MediaFirst cloud-based TV products. It has pieced together Aquila for tailoring content at the end user level, Cygnus for media processing, and the Orion multiscreen platform equipped with analytics, dynamic ad insertion and UI customization. It is perhaps too soon to know for certain if MediaKind has churned out any clearly defined, in-house technologies, but there is a sneaking suspicion Deutsche Telekom is giving one or all of the four “new” MediaKind arms a run out, although the vendor would have surely made a much bigger song and dance out of the announcement had that been the case.

Significantly though, the upgrade jobs at these two Eastern European units could provide inroads to larger deployments across the German giant’s footprint – mounting a potential challenge to Huawei which is the incumbent vendor for its Entertain TV platform.

Yet this week’s news is precisely what we feared. Faultline Online Reporter never doubted MediaKind’s ability to cling onto existing customers, but there is uncertainty about its ability to win significant greenfield operator deployments. We hope to stand corrected soon.

Deutsche Telekom ended Q3 with 57,000 TV subscribers in the Czech Republic, compared to 605,000 in Slovakia, both growing steadily. There are also 533,000 broadband subscribers in Slovakia along with 2.3 million mobile subscribers, while it has 227,000 on broadband in the Czech Republic and 6.2 million on mobile.

Andrej Pinak, Director of IP and Service Platforms at both Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic said, “By working alongside a trusted and proven strategic partner, we are able to invest in the best possible infrastructure and ensure our customers receive the most exciting and extensive range of rich, immersive and highly personalized viewing experiences across all screens.”

MediaKind CEO Angel Ruiz said, “This latest deployment of Mediaroom will enable Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic to modernize software and introduce new high quality, live, video on demand and time-shifted services to its viewers. We look forward to further enhancing the IPTV service capability and introducing new, flexible and cost-effective methods of video delivery in the Czech and Slovak TV markets.”

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