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Smart Communications (Philippines)

Smart Communications is a mobile arm of Philippine incumbent telco PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company). Its TV offerings include streaming apps Smartlife, I Want TV, and ViewStream, plus pay-per-view (PPV) movie services and an Android set top. Operations and figures: Parent company PLDT posted Q1 20178 revenues of 40,507 million Php, up 3% from the same period in the previous year. Net income for Q1 was up 39% to 6,294 million Php. Total PLDT mobile subscribers dropped 8% in Q1 to 58.1 million, of which Smart accounts for 21.6 million, down 7%. Broadband increased 13% to just under 2 million, of which 1.77 million are fixed line and the remainder fixed wireless.   Technology suppliers: SwiftMedia content management system…

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MTNL (India)

State-owned telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) offers the mobile TV service NexGTv from DigiVive, plus the IPTV service iControl. Operations and figures: According to regulator TRAI, MTNL had 3.6 million subscribers at the end of 2016, in a market of over 1 billion mobile connections. It also has just under 1 million fixed broadband users. Revenue for the one-year period ended March 2018 was $358.6 million, down 16.7% from the previous year. The operator made a total net loss for the period of $429 million, with debt totaling $3.2 billion.   Technology suppliers: Suppliers for NexGTv: Envivio encoding and SPB TV packaging. Verimatrix is the main security provider, supporting PlayReady and Widevine. Suppliers for iControl IPTV: Amino set tops.…

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CyanConnode launches Omnimesh, hopes to challenge in smart metering

Smart metering challenger CyanConnode has launched its new Omnimesh offering, part of its Omni IoT Platform, hoping to use its narrowband 6LoWPAN mesh protocol to win deals with utilities looking to deploy smart meters – tempting them away from the likes of LoRa, cellular (LTE Cat-M1, Cat-M2, Cat-NB1, and Cat-NB2), and even fellow utility specialist Wi-SUN. There is still a huge amount of business up for grabs, and the market is certainly not entrenched yet. While Wi-SUN is the most obvious standard for this industry (Weightless is a long-shot to re-emerge), the licensed cellular vendors will be looking to win large deals. RF technologies, like CyanConnode’s and Sensus’ are other options, as are the unlicensed LPWAN options from Sigfox, LoRa,…

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Agrobot breaks ground for robotics in fruit picking

Agrobot is one of a growing number or robotics start-ups specializing in harvesting fruit, with increasingly convincing results. Based in Huelva, Spain, the firm has spent 10 years developing a robot specifically for strawberry picking, where there is potential for huge savings as well as cutting out a lot of back breaking human work. Strawberry picking is one area where loss of jobs to automation will be broadly welcomed, since the work is onerous and brings risk of back problems for those doing it regularly. It is a big global industry worth over $16 billion a year, while Spain is by some distance Europe’s largest producer accounting for about 30% of the continent’s crop. It is no surprise then that…

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Metaboards plans wireless power step-change amid slow-moving industry

Most devices inherently have two cables – power, and data. In the past decade, most consumer electronics have been able to bypass the need for a data cable using WiFi or Bluetooth, and while batteries have removed the need to be constantly plugged into an outlet, devices still need those power cables at some point in their lives. This is why wireless charging has garnered such interest from developers, but there have been limitations in the current technologies. The Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi is the market leader, used by all the major smartphone makers and finding its way into other devices too. Apple joining the WPC sealed the deal, but Qi is far from perfect. It requires that the device…

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Data rather than AI will drive competition, as Formula 1 taps AWS

Formula 1 has just clinched a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that raises interesting questions over the role of AI and machine learning for the drivers and constructor teams as well as viewers. Formula 1 is moving nearly all its IT and distribution infrastructure from on-premises data centers to AWS, while standardizing on the latter’s machine learning and data analytics services. This dovetails with Formula 1’s introduction in May 2018 of two OTT TV services signaling a move towards going direct to the viewer rather than through pay TV distributors like Sky, ESPN or RTL for example, which currently have rights in various countries. We can now see the logic of the move emerging as Formula 1 seeks to…

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Bragi pushes software and services angle for its hearable hardware

Having begun life as a wireless headphone company, Bragi moved into sensor-filled versions of the devices – creating hearables that can use machine-learning algorithms to gain a contextual understanding of the world around them. That awareness is key to functioning correctly, but now Bragi wants to take that expertise further – and use the code it has created as a platform for other IoT devices. Riot spoke to EVP Darko Dragicevic to discuss the news that Bragi had joined STMicroelectronics’ Partner Program, just a few months after announcing a new business strategy at MWC – a focus on software and services, building on its end-device experience. Dragicevic said that the Dash was always considered as something of a development platform…

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ETSI’s network AI group identifies use cases, plans full architecture

As artificial intelligence (AI) moves towards the mainstream for telecoms network optimization, one of ETSI’s activities in this area has defined some detailed use cases across the network lifecycle from planning to optimization to predictive analytics. The Industry Specification Group (ISG) was set up in October 2017 under the label ‘Experiential Networked Intelligence’ (ENI). It defines ‘experiential’ as a method to “observe and learn from the experience an operator has in managing the network, to improve its understanding of the operator experience, over time.” In other words, AI and machine learning will help the network to learn what impacts on user experience, positively or negatively, and feed that understanding into decisions, to make them more automated and better aligned to…

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Inseego overhauls leadership, plans IoT expansion

New CEO Dan Mondor has been busy overhauling the management team at Inseego, looking to capture a nice slice of the pie for Inseego – a company specializing in wireless gateways and associated software that used to be called Novatel Wireless, best known for MiFi. Bringing in Ashish Sharma as CMO, who Mondor has known for nearly 15 years, the plan is to ride the wave of networking transformation that is being brought about by the IoT and 5G. Riot’s view on 5G is largely influenced by the current state of 4G, in that there is still nowhere near 100% territorial coverage for LTE, and therefore the viability of LTE-based IoT projects is somewhat confined to the existing footprint –…

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Semtech braces for expansion, signs China Unicom LoRa MoU

It is a very short announcement, but one that could have a very big impact on LoRa adoption globally. Semtech has announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Unicom, one of the three state-owned MNOs, to collaborate on standardizing wireless network gateways and protocols, and jointly develop IoT ecosystem partners and use cases. Over in the USA, both Senet and machineQ have announced progress with their own LoRa networks, but China has been much more receptive to LoRa than the US, and looks set to drive a lot of growth. However, China is also the leader in NB-IoT (NB1 and NB2), but it looks like there’s enough room for both – to begin with, at least. Semtech and China…

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Otonomo hooks up with Bright Box to boost connected car data market

With the march to full autonomous driving held up by a few accidents, other connected car services more likely to deliver real benefits in the near future have achieved more visibility. The fast growth in such services has been highlighted by a partnership between Israeli connected car data marketplace start-up Otonomo and vehicle platform vendor Bright Box. This deal also shows how insurers are investing in connected car data given that Bright Box is now wholly owned by the Zurich Insurance Group. Insurers see this automotive data as a game changer, enabling them to offer personalized services with individual premiums reflecting a driver’s actual risk based on behavior at the wheel and factors like distance travelled and nature of journeys.…

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Baidu signs Intel for automotive Apollo platform

Chinese web titan Baidu has picked Intel to provide the Mobileye Responsibility Sensitive Safety (RSS) model for Baidu’s open source Apollo platform, which Baidu is pushing as a standard approach for autonomous cars. Baidu is also going to use Mobileye for its self-driving system, which it plans to sell to Chinese OEMs, for use in China. This looks like a good early win for Intel, but Apollo itself still hasn’t caught on like wildfire. Baidu claims that there are 116 global partners in the Apollo program, and sure, there are a lot of the major automakers. But we’ve yet to see one of these car companies announce that they are going to use Apollo as the basis of their next…

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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

The hotly debated digital copyright reform in Europe, dubbed a vote for mass internet censorship, has been rejected by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). However, they will reconvene in September to assess an alternative version of the controversial law. Famous faces including Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox could not sway MEPs, who will now return to the drawing board, while vocal anti-reform activists, such as Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, celebrated the decision. The idea was for publishers to be granted rights to wave legal tools for online copyright claims in the same manner as used in offline content in the broadcast, movie and music businesses, meaning the likes of YouTube and Facebook would be required to prevent users uploading…

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Throttling video a necessary evil for MNOs as Comcast discovers

Are unlimited data plans driving mobile-first streaming or are the rise of OTT video services driving the popularity of unlimited data plans? Either way, so-called unlimited packages have made limiting mobile data usage a necessity for MNOs, with Comcast the latest to be the bearer of bad news for mobile streaming fanatics. The Xfinity Mobile MVNO venture, piggybacking on Verizon’s network, will soon be reducing video quality from 720p to 480p when streaming content via mobile data. Of course it tries to use WiFi offload most of the time. Once unlimited Xfinity subscribers exceed their 20GB monthly data caps, download speeds are restricted to 1.5Mbps and upload 750Kbps, while streaming over WiFi will remain unchanged as standard. In addition, “if…

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Charter ups the pressure on the telcos with Spectrum Mobile launch

The largest US cablecos are becoming a significant competitive threat to the telcos, especially now Comcast and Charter Communications are entering the mobile and multiplay market in earnest. The two companies are working together on mobile R&D, deployment and services, since their territories hardly overlap, and may well pool their resources in future to buy more 5G spectrum. Comcast went commercial last year with its Xfinity Mobile offering, and now Charter has followed suit with Spectrum Mobile, which also leverages an MVNO agreement with Verizon, as well as significant investment in WiFi hotspots and homespots. For now, Charter’s service is available only to existing or new customers of its Spectrum broadband offering. If their mobile businesses go well, both cablecos…

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WBU joins C-band rendition of Cry Me a River, execs predict chaos

Backstabbing and U-turning have been common themes among the satellite community, encapsulating the state of disarray which has engulfed companies once so powerful. This week, the World Broadcasting Unions (WBU) touched on the sensitive C-band subject – describing the scenario which will ensue from the sale of spectrum to cellular players as “chaos”. As we know, the FCC is currently in the process of digesting plans to reallocate C-band frequencies, in the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz range, where hundreds of thousands of C-band fixed satellite services (FSS) downlink sites operate – as satellite fleet operators prepare to cash in. The impending reality for satellite firms outside the US is that, eventually, copycat situations will arise, while in the US,…

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Spideo, NPAW dive into churn prediction pointing to psychographics

French recommendation engine developer Spideo came out of hibernation recently, hosting a joint webinar with QoE expert Nice People at Work (NPAW) in which the two companies proposed the idea of psychographic data usurping demographic data in the battle for churn prediction products. Recommendation software firms as we once knew them are rapidly rebranding to metadata companies, most claiming to use machine learning techniques to power various processes worlds away from purely recommending content – yet the underlying algorithms themselves seemingly remain much the same. Psychographic data is about building up a personality for each individual user, based on aspects such as lifestyle, interests and habits, rather than relying on demographics and past viewing behaviors. Spideo and NPAW suggest psychographic…

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Recommendations go missing in multifaceted APAC

Where everything from digitization to playout systems and QoE monitoring were in abundance at last week’s ConnecTechAsia, a standout trend in itself was how recommendation and personalization technologies were lacking from what Faultline Online Reporter is used to observing at similar TV technology events. We have previously proposed the idea that such a fierce battleground for viewers, on both OTT video and linear TV, means Asia Pacific-based operators are much more secretive about supplier relationships – a statement which we stick to following our first appearance at the event, but one we now understand on a deeper level. It may seem trivial to highlight how video markets across the continent differ dramatically from country to country yet viewing Asia Pacific…

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Fire and fury rages back home as Netflix tests Ultra tier in Europe

Is high dynamic range (HDR) really worth an extra €3 ($3.50) a month? We think that’s a steal, especially for a service like Netflix, while most consumer-facing publications are in uproar over another impending price hike. The US SVoD titan is using Europe as a test bed for a new Ultra offering costing €16.99 a month which, the company conceded, might never become a fully-fledged member of the family – but is tentatively testing the waters nonetheless. Netflix is under no illusions about how unforgiving the OTT video generation can be and how mainstream news outlets enjoy throwing the global SVoD success story under the bus whenever possible. The reactive US press is urging Netflix subscribers to prepare for the…

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Ultra HD Forum recruits Content Aware Encoding to push UHD

It has always been a long game for the two big standards bodies in the Ultra HD (UHD) arena but now they are raising the tempo as they seek finally to exorcize the ghost of 3D that has been hovering over the field. Both are umbrella bodies aiming to direct development of standards by existing groups such as MPEG, ETSI, SMPTE and the ITU rather than create new ones themselves. The UHD Alliance is concerned with each end of the delivery cycle, video capture and display, while the Ultra HD Forum addresses all the infrastructure in between. Both were founded in 2015 at a time when memories of the 3D debacle two years earlier were still fresh, when it had…

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