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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

A press release floated past our desk this week claiming that the Kaltura Cloud TV platform is the first to commit to SLAs of 99.995% from the cloud. We should hope so given that Vodafone is a multiple region customer and telcos normally won’t talk to you unless you offer 99.999% uptime. Perhaps the message was more about other systems, such as the one behind DirecTV Now, which have had very public failings from their launch. But it does mean a new version of the platform at Kaltura, which has added features such as a marketing campaign and coupon engine for pushing special offers, personalization and search enhancements, plus a churn prevention toolkit, which measures “happiness scores.”

AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner has received approval in Chile without any conditions to sell or divest existing assets in the country. The Fiscalía Nacional Económica (FNE) is the latest of 16 competition authorities to approve the deal outside of the US.

Israel’s largest mobile operator Cellcom says it has signed up 150,000 households to its online TV service Cellcom tv, reaching a 10% market share in under three years. Cellcom also has 2.8 million mobile subscribers and earlier this year it launched a quad play package costing $69 a month.

Content security firm Nagra has completed the IP infrastructure integration for one of Singapore’s top three telcos, StarHub. Nagra says it was the lead system integrator in migrating StarHub’s multi-network TV services, covering 280 channels across cable, IP and OTT, to the new Hubtricity facility, along with 20 other vendors. Nagra has been a supplier to StarHub since 2003, providing set top software and content protection.

Google and German media group Bertelsmann have pledged to fund 75,000 scholarships to the web and Android development program Udacity, to close the digital divide in countries including Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Russia. Last year, Udacity received 70,000 applications for just 10,000 places. Google is funding the bulk of these with 60,000 scholarships, with 40,000 reserved for applicants with no programming experience and 20,000 for those with between 1 and 3 years of experience.

Nordic telco Elisa has deployed the Diamond entertainment software suite from French set top software company Netgem, to power its new Binge TV mobile video service in Estonia. Elisa says Netgem’s virtual set top features will allow it to reach new customers in Estonia, including an integrated UI providing content from local and international linear channels, 7-day catch up, plus OTT services.

Finnish video analytics firm Valossa has completed a $2 million investment round led by 01 Ventures in the UK, followed by Reaktor Ventures and Butterfly Ventures in Finland. Valossa will use the funding to expand its product development and sales teams to meet demand for its Valossa AI video intelligence products – which analyzes live content to find what’s suitable (brand safe) to run alongside advertising. Trials of its technologies are currently underway at several Fortune 500 companies, claims Valossa.

Dutch app developer Metrological has been selected by Technicolor to provide its Application Platform and Web Platform for Embedded (WPE) on Technicolor’s 4K UHD hybrid cable and IP set tops. Metrological’s WPE browser and cloud-based architecture aim to make the process of IP-based delivery for operators easier anywhere in the world, particularly for premium OTT content – by providing a unified, open source framework with software plugins. Liberty Global and Comcast are among existing users of WPE to render HTML5 apps and third-party services on set tops.

G.fast certified-interoperable products have grown from 7 to 24 in under three months, according to The Broadband Forum. Recent networking equipment companies to complete the certification program are Adtran, Exfo and Viavi.

Focus Sat, Liberty Global’s satellite division in Romania operated by UPC DTH, has extended its deal with media distributor SPI International Filmbox. Focus Sat is offering complementary access to the Filmbox Live multiscreen on-demand service to all customers who subscribe to the Filmbox channels package on its service.

MaxLinear said this week it has supplied its Full Band Capture components to Skyworth Digital’s next generation cable gateway box, which we presume is a DOCSIS 3.1 device. Previously Skyworth has used HiSilicon, Broadcom, Rockchip and MediaTek chips in set tops, TVs and WiFi but began using MaxLinear components around 2011 when it supplied a chip to a digital to analog TV converter, and again in 2014 when it used the MxL261 digital cable front end for its DOCSIS 3.0 devices. Skyworth is around a $5.5 billion Chinese TV, set top and white goods firm, with about 10% of its business in set tops and home gateways.

Indian satellite TV operator Tata Sky has deployed the DataMiner OSS (operational support system) from network management firm Skyline Communications, to manage its DTH services. DataMiner is a multi-vendor platform supporting any type of device, using any protocol, which means operators need only invest in one platform rather than multiple, proprietary closed systems.

Swedish app store developer Accedo launched its new cloud platform Accedo One this week, comprising a portfolio of tools to put operators, broadcasters and brands in control of the building, management and deployment of high-quality video experiences. Customers can pick and choose features and components best suited to their needs, with adaptable pricing, accessible via a single platform and scalable across devices.

US encoder supplier Harmonic has deployed a second cable TV headend for Taiwan Broadband Communication, which delivers 120 HD and 64 SD channels to some 700,000 cable TV customers in Taiwan. TBC is using a combination of Harmonic’s video encoders, multiplexers and playout system – increasing MPEG4 AVC encoding efficiency via techniques including advanced motion estimation, refined multi-pass encoding and preprocessing capabilities.

Third-placed German cable operator Tele Columbus is changing its name to PŸUR as of October 2017 – unifying Primacom, HL komm, Pepcom and Tele Columbus under a single brand. It also plans to launch a new product portfolio focusing on tariffs that can be canceled monthly, based on “simplicity, transparency and fairness.”

It would be remiss of us not to mention an event that may change video forever, so we must note that this week Facebook has now officially opened its new Watch tab in the US for just about anyone. It is no longer a trial. Watch is a place to upload original and user generated content. It also said it is offering payments to major record labels so they do not file takedown notices when video content is loaded with their music on. It will build a system for sharing monetization of copyrighted content, but it took Google a couple of years to get that right and is offering large off payments for now. Facebook is mostly highlighting reality shows, which partners produce cheaply, which really won’t get Facebook far.

Turkish WiFi expert AirTies has gone against its traditional flow of business this week by launching an Android TV set top version of its Air 7415 4K IP gateway, saying it needs to address the growing demand from operators for Android platforms. The device integrates a range of OTT apps alongside an operator’s own, supporting UHD and HDR with 2×2 802.11ac WiFi. It runs a Broadcom BCM72604 chipset with 2GB RAM.

Samsung and Arqiva have selected French compression company Ateme to conduct what they are claiming to be the UK’s first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology. It will take place in December this year in London, with Arqiva providing infrastructure and mmWave spectrum to operate Samsung’s 5G system, using beamforming and virtualization technologies, plus Ateme’s Titan software-based transcoder for delivering 4K video content with HDR.

WiFi chip vendor Quantenna Communications has launched the Quantenna Spartan AP Booster, designed to upgrade performance for service providers with legacy home gateways without the need to switch out an entire system. The new QV840-based single band device supports Quantenna’s 5GHz 4×4 802.11ac Wave 2 system, or it says the QV860 version adds an additional 2×2 802.11n n/g/b radio for a dual band, dual concurrent solution. Both solutions offer a peak PHY rate of 1.7Gbps in the 5GHz band, and QV860 also supports 2.4Ghz at an aggregate PHY rate of 2Gbps.

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