Advanced Television

Embracing OTT and a plea to regulators

February 15, 2011

Nick Snow@Cable Congress

The Plenary session at Cable Congress is always a good place to judge the current ‘group think’ of the European cable sector. For a few years now, the big question has been about the ‘opportunity’ and/or ‘threat’ of OTT services and this year’s Plenary again updated us on the latest take.

In recent years, OTT has been seen as first a threat and then an opportunity to manage delivery and guarantee QoS. Now the big operators are going a step further, seeing the opportunity to manage the TV Everywhere enabled by connected devices and provide the UI to third party services.

Mike Fries, CEO Liberty Global, says, “There is an OTT revolution and we are right on board. While 97 per cent of TV is still consumed from the couch….. an increasing amount of time, particularly by the young, is being spent consuming on other devices. We’ve changed our thinking more in the last 12 to 18 months than ever before. There’s nothing to be frightened of…”. Fries said their new Horizon home gateway, due for roll out over the coming year, will include 3D graphic interface and a four-button controller with smart phone like touch-screen control. It will be based on Flash but also run HTML5. “It is a game changer for us,” he said.

Rosalia Portela, CEO of ONO, agreed that Internet-based services had to be provided, “and the extra bandwidth advantage that DOCSIS 3.0 gives us over competitors makes us all the more ambitious in this area.”

Paul Liao, CEO CableLabs, warned this embracing of alternative services and the continued driving of the Digital Agenda could only be fulfilled if regulators were aware they could or make or break innovation among network providers; “we have to be allowed to make the network pay.”

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