Light Reading

Alticast Primps for Vegas Spotlight

Mari Silbey

LAS VEGAS -- Although not as well-known as some other video equipment vendors in the North American market, Alticast is seeking to play a starring role at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

In fact, in a suite off the main CE show floor here, Alticast Corp. executives are playing traffic cop this week, steering streams of visitors through two rooms of product demonstrations. In these rooms, the company is showing off: its new HDMI streaming stick built on the Reference Design Kit (RDK) software stack, the 2.0 version of its sophisticated Windmill program guide, a remote-storage DVR (RS-DVR) demo that includes a USB-stick solution for implementing live pause and rewind functions, and an Alticast-powered multi-tuner gateway.

Headquartered in Korea, Alticast has focused heavily on under-the-hood middleware solutions for years, making it a relatively unknown player in the US and Canada. Yet the company includes Videotron Ltd. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Bright House Networks on its North American customer list. Alticast CTO John Carlucci told Light Reading that "North America is a significant focus for us right now."

Most notably, Alticast is showing its new HDMI Media Express Stick for the first time at this year's CES. Unlike other media streaming sticks now flooding the market, the Alticast solution uses the RDK software stack originally developed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and now managed jointly by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In addition to RDK, the Alticast stick uniquely leverages Android drivers, making it possible to combine cable-driven software with Android apps on a unified platform. (See Alticast Plans to Demo Set-Top Stick at CES and 5 TV Tech Trends Heading for CES.)

At the Alticast suite Tuesday, Carlucci demonstrated several service provider program guides running on the HDMI stick -- including one from Cox Communications Inc. There were icons for the Google Play store and favorite consumer apps like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix. Carlucci explained that some of the apps, such as Netflix, will only be available on the second-generation version of the product, but that the development work is well underway now.

On the hardware end, Carlucci demonstrated how the initial Alticast solution can be delivered on the Cotton Candy HDMI stick manufactured by FXI Technologies. Alticast is hardware agnostic, however, and willing to use other manufacturers according to operator preference. The Cotton Candy stick has an HDMI plug on one side and a USB plug on the other, allowing users to move the device around between TVs and PCs like a video identity key.

In a separate room from the HDMI streaming stick, Alticast is running a demo of its second-generation HTML5 Windmill user interface. The UI is heavily icon-driven, with a rounded design style and numerous options for personalization. A launcher screen lets users customize which icons they want immediately available and offers templates for consumers specifically interested in sports, kids content, and other genres.

The advanced UI automatically displays such information as recently missed programs based on a user's tastes and activity. It also includes the ability to create multiple user profiles for different household members. Alticast expects to bring the new Windmill guide to market in the second half of the year.

Also in the demo suite, Carlucci walked through an RS-DVR implementation with a unique USB twist. Traditional RS-DVR deployments can't support pause and rewind functions for live TV. However, with the addition of a USB stick for buffering (and encrypting) video, Alticast is making it possible for operators to put live pausing and rewinding in the cloud DVR experience. Because it uses a USB port, the Alticast Live Pause and Rewind solution can plug directly into legacy set-tops.

In addition, Carlucci confirmed that the USB stick could theoretically convert an old set-top into a full-fledged DVR if an operator wanted that option. The Live Pause and Rewind solution is headed into field trials now.

Finally, Carlucci briefly demonstrated an Alticast-powered multi-tuner gateway in his product walkthrough. The gateway includes eight inputs, along with the ability to decode two video streams at once for picture-in-picture delivery.

Expect to hear a lot more from Alticast this year as the company just closed its initial public offering last month. Alticast is now listed on the Korean stock exchange KOSDAQ under the symbol ATCAST. Carlucci sees the IPO as a positive sign for Alticast's growth potential, and believes both Europe and North America will be growth markets for the company going forward.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Blogger
1/9/2014 | 6:04:39 PM
Re: Hardware-agnostic
I agree, Dan. That might be a real point of differentiation for them. Would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of all the streaming sticks on the market and their parent firms. 
User Rank: Blogger
1/8/2014 | 9:39:54 PM
Sounds lile it's in the thick of the stick market that is suddenly all the rage. Being hardware-agnostic might prove to be its best move.
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
Eurobites: Dunroamin'
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 10/2/2015
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
AT&T Gets Green Light for VoWiFi
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/7/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here