TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test
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