Espial takes Elevate the SaaS route, but no path to Europe yet

Canadian IPTV software house Espial may be slightly behind the curve in launching its Elevate IPTV platform as a software as a service (SaaS) option in the cloud, but its ongoing partnership with Arris is helping the firm open up more doors in North America and prepare for making its mark in Europe.

Building on a successful first quarter in which Espial more than doubled its revenues, the company came out with an upgraded version of its cloud service Elevate this week, to help operators spin up live and VoD OTT services, plus whole-home DVR systems, within 90 days. Three months is a typical time frame now and two OTT specialists Kaltura and Viaccess-Orca both came out with new as a service offerings well over a year ago, both claiming similar times for full TV platform launches.

We have come to associate Espial as a company that can aid cable operators in launching new offerings as quickly as possible to offset losses from their traditional TV businesses. These rush jobs might imply that Espial is one of the cheaper providers on the market. However, when Faultline Online Reporter spoke to Espial execs at the end of last year, we were told that time is by no means associated with cost. Instead, they claimed Espial achieves a combination of quality and speed with its dedicated video “elite” team, which provides an approach to projects that cannot apparently be matched by rivals such as Cisco.

Espial says the new Elevate SaaS platform maintains support for existing QAM deployments and allows operators to deliver a unified user experience, enhance their services and simplify their operations by delivering services from a single cloud platform across IPTV and cable networks.

The technology behind the new platform comes from the Whole Home Solution it acquired from Arris last year, which covers streaming technologies and some client software including a UI. Arris has still been providing any media gateway hardware that services need since it offloaded WHS, and the new Elevate platform comes pre-integrated with Arris set tops.

Espial added that three new customers, HBC, Easton Utilities and Ritter Communications, have signed up for Elevate, bringing its total Elevate customer base to more than 40.

Maryland-based TV and internet services provider Easton Utilities says it is preparing for a large scale deployment of Elevate IPTV following a successful field trial. However, Easton Utilities only recently took up Evolution Digital’s eVUE-TV managed TV service, along with six other National Cable TV Cooperative members, as part of the NCTC VU-IT service. Espial told us that Easton is using the VoD application from eVue-TV, rather than the whole platform.

In July last year, US cable TV technology vendor Evolution Digital signed a deal with the NCTC to deliver services as an option to members integrated into a common back office service. Evolution Digital is also collaborating with Norwegian conditional access firm Conax on its next generation IP video platform – integrating the Conax OTT and TV Everywhere content protection solutions.

There is still no word from Espial about its promised announcement to launch support for DVB, which is holding back Elevate in Europe. It says it is collaborating with Arris to roll out a set top running the Elevate software with DVB-support, for an estimated launch sometime in the second half of this year. This could also be a HDMI stick which supports RDK.

Espial had a big recent win in Europe with Germany’s Tele Columbus, building its advanceTV 4K hybrid IP video service project, which took some 15 months to get off the ground, although this deployed Espial’s RDK 2.1-based G4 set top client and media service platform, not the Elevate product line.

“There is profound disruption in the market today and service providers are turning to IP-based cloud platforms – like Elevate IPTV – to bring a next generation experience to their consumers. Elevate IPTV provides an elegant solution to access the ever growing choice of video content and consumer viewing devices. With content providers engaging consumers directly, Elevate IPTV provides operators with a powerful platform that allows operators to compete with scale,” said Mick McCluskey, VP Product Management, Espial.

Arris VP of Product Management, Rob Folk, added, “In today’s increasingly competitive environment, we’re enabling operators to deliver immersive new viewing experiences that seamlessly combine advanced TV, OTT, and operator-specific services. Operators are uniquely positioned to create these next-generation services quickly and efficiently, empowered by Arris technology and advanced platforms like Elevate IPTV.”