Video services

TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is making plans to "pilot" an IP video service powered by Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Mediaroom platform in Los Angeles, Light Reading Cable has learned.

It's still unknown when the MSO intends to launch the test (possibly later this year) or how many homes will be involved, but people familiar with the project say TWC intends to apply what it learns in that pilot toward a larger IP video migration project that's well underway.

There's no indication that this initial work will lead TWC to standardize IP video services on Mediaroom, but it could help determine what TWC's IPTV infrastructure of the future might look like. The Mediaroom pilot in LA is also considered vitally important to Microsoft, as it will allow the company to reestablish its long lost foothold in the US cable market and generate some momentum with other domestic MSOs.

Word of the test comes a week before The Cable Show gets underway in Los Angeles, the city believed to be the site of TWC's test of Mediaroom, which AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW), along with several other domestic telcos, are using to power their respective IPTV systems. (See SureWest to Make Its Mark With Mediaroom.)

It's not yet known if the companies intend to formally announce the Mediaroom pilot plans at next week's event, but Microsoft has unfolded big set-top software product and deployment news at past cable shows. TWC and Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment Monday.

Regardless of the pilot's timing and size, it does offer yet another indication that cable operators are growing more eager to migrate managed video services to the world of IP and the benefits that such a move would entail. (See SCTE Expo: MSOs Prep IPTV Push .)

In addition to changing some basic components that will enable operators to use more flexible digital rights management (DRM) systems, a move to IP video will offer a bevy of interactive TV opportunities and let cable maintain some consistency as navigation systems and guides are applied to set-tops, PCs, smartphones, and other broadband-connected video display devices. Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, has also been a champion of switched digital video (SDV), which uses IPTV-like techniques to send multicast video streams of broadcast channels to a subset of customers. (See Time Warner Cable Relights Its SDV Fire .)

The TWC Mediaroom pilot is said to tie into "Longfellow," the code-name for an internal MSO project and think tank dedicated to Time Warner Cable's IP transition strategy, which is believed to be noodling managed video services as well as "over-the-top" video offerings that could be fed from an MSO-built content distribution network (CDN).

Longfellow isn't the only big IP video project underway at a major US MSO. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) also has a similar initiative underway under a project originally dubbed "Excalibur" that Light Reading Cable uncovered exclusively last fall. (See Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV.)

Microsoft gets another shot
The pilot with Time Warner Cable and cable's renewed interest in IP video services reopens the cable door for Microsoft, which has had difficulty breaking into the domestic cable industry for more than a decade.

Its last relatively significant US cable presence was washed away in 2007 when Comcast opted to switch out the Microsoft TV Foundation Edition set-top platform and interactive program guide in Washington in favor of iGuide, an IPG Comcast had already standardized on in its other Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-based digital video markets. (See Comcast to Drop Microsoft TV Guide .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

COMMENTS Add Comment
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Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:37:29 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

Got late word from Microsoft that sheds no more light on all this, other than to say that have not publicly confirmed any new trials with cable operators in the US and will not comment on rumor and speculation. So there. JB

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:37:28 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

So Microsoft gets another shot with a cable provider.?  Well they do not deserve one.

FYI, MediaRoom 2.0 is nearly a year late. That's right, MSFT was to have beta code to carrier customers last October and the GA release in January.  Word is that MSFT will not deliver code until October 2010.  This delay has effected carrier plans in many ways.

Why would anyone want to depend on MSFT?.  Alternatives are lurking.  

TWC, don't waste your time and money.

pnni-1 12/5/2012 | 4:37:28 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

Don't you know that MSO's love a good horse race?  I wonder who else could be in the race??

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:37:28 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test They're getting a pilot shot, anyway, so Microsoft will have to be on their best behaviour if they're to stand a chance at getting more than that with TWC or anyone else from the domestic cable fold. They have a spotted history with US cable to say the very least, so we'll be watching this one closely since it might be Microsoft's last big chance at scoring big with US MSOs. But TWC must really like what it's seeing to take this big a step, or Microsoft is paying a nifty ransom to be participate. JB
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:37:18 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

Ask every carrier as well as HP, Sun and Dell that is a MediaRoom customer/eco system partner If they have any code and please report back to us.  Also there are several features for the D server that are definitely not due to October.  They are major.

stryderbsd 12/5/2012 | 4:37:18 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

It can't be that late, we have it in our lab already.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:37:18 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test Valid point. They tend to use one vendor against others for leverage, though not really a cable industry-only tactic. This is all pretty early on from what i can gather, but agree that it wouldn't be a big surprise if TWC starts to test others, but all indications are that the LA IP video pilot will be soley MSFT's. JB
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:37:17 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

Forgot to ask.  Your lab, who do you work for.?  If you do not answer, Microsoft may be the company.

stryderbsd 12/5/2012 | 4:37:16 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

I work for an ILEC, and the release we have is by no means GA, and it has many bugs, but STB's are booting up into it. I'm not aware of any D server limitations, but I'm not a Mediaroom expert, I just know our lab STB's are running it.

pnni-1 12/5/2012 | 4:37:15 PM
re: TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test

I know of another vendor as well.  I guess they did not do a press release.

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