Video software

Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) plans to start a hosting service for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Mediaroom, giving smaller carriers a way to deploy the IPTV middleware without having to deploy the servers required.

The service, expected to launch early next year, could be hosted by Motorola entirely or could be placed inside someone else's hosting facility. Decisions like that are still in the works, Motorola officials tell Light Reading.

"This is a solution primarily aimed at small operators, where you may have a couple thousand, maybe 5,000, subscribers," says Mike Laraia, vice president of sales and services for Motorola Mobility. "This will let us address the smallest of the small that really want to deploy video."

"What they're doing with this is going to help the medium and small operators," says Jessie Mason, general manager of Greenlight Communications, a group building a municipal fiber network in Dunnellon, Fla. Greenlight is one of a few customers Motorola is signing up for the service.

It's also viable for a large operator that wants to outsource some chunk of a deployment, but Motorola will wait before pursuing that kind of business.

Mediaroom has garnered quite a few Tier 1 IPTV wins, such as the U-verse service from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). But the architecture calls for lots of servers. That makes it expensive for any operator to deploy, and competitors have claimed it also makes Mediaroom difficult to scale.

Microsoft has worked to improve this, partly to make Mediaroom better suited for Tier 2 and 3 operators. (See Microsoft Mediaroom Tackles Tier 2 IPTV.)

"Mediaroom 2.0 supports server virtualization. You can be much more efficient in utilizing the service, particularly if you are able to aggregate several small operators," says Colin Dixon, an analyst with The Diffusion Group (TDG) . "It's still not cheap, although it has come down in price quite a bit."

Motorola's service would consist of housing the Mediaroom servers and maintaining the software. Motorola could host content as well, but it's more likley that providers will keep using their own headends, Laraia says.

Competitors such as Nokia Networks , Orca Interactive Ltd. , and particularly Minerva Networks Inc. have been more closely associated with smaller-tier telcos. But smaller operators are still willing to shop for new video options, Dixon says.

That's giving Microsoft an opening. Last year, it got a high-profile Tier 2 win with SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW), stealing that customer away from Minerva. (See SureWest to Make Its Mark With Mediaroom.)

Motorola's participation isn't surprising, as the company has gotten more and more involved with Mediaroom with each passing year. Motorola became a Mediaroom integrator a year ago and became a certified integrator this past spring, Laraia says.

Motorola has some experience with cloud services, too, as it's running a switched digital video (SDV)-hosting business out of San Diego. (See Moto, BigBand Play Small Ball With SDV.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

upand2theright 12/5/2012 | 4:18:17 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

MOT's solution is a non-starter.  Microsoft Mediaroom has minimum connectivity requirements of 20-25 mbps.   That's fine for Tier One carriers with fiber access to the home.  But 90+ percent of tier 2 and tier 3 carriers in North America have broadband connections well under 5 mbps.    Simply put, MOT is introducing a Mediaroom solution that most carriers will never be able to use.   Lucy, you got some splainin to do ...

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 4:18:17 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

you'd be surprised at how much fiber exists among lower tier operators... not to mention that what works for AT&T should work for them too.

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 4:18:17 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

Interesting... but there is a difference between virtualizing and hosting Mediaroom.  The gains from Mediaroom with virtualization certainly favor a hosting opportunity... although not to the extent that ALU has taken Mediaroom virtualization with its micro-architecture (for which it also got an award).

Meanwhile, the challenge for MOT will be to architect a way to have a shared installation of Mediaroom so that customers maintain secure and segmented connections to their back end B/OSS.  To my knowledge, only 180Squared was working on this, and even had some initial traction with their Quantum Site Technology. Would be interesting if MOT was leveraging 180Squared capabilities (or their own back-office integration expertise).  And a potential coup vs. ALU's ongoing efforts to drive market traction below Tier 1.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:18:16 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

To follow up ycurrent's point .... yes, it might be true that a lot of Tier2/3s don't have this kind of fiber, but some of them are building it out (Greenlight).  And even if it's just a minority, there seem to be enough of them to justify starting a hosting center -- at least, Motorola thinks so.

Whether it becomes a huge business, who knows. That's probably one of the factors in their choice of hosting it themselves or working with a cloud hoster. 

(people say "hoster," don't they? i didn't just now make that up, right?)

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:18:15 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV


The Tier 2s might be short on FTTH, but not the Tier 3s.

The biggest issue for solving the headend costs for small folks who want to get into the business has been dealt with a long time ago.  There are several consortia that provide head ends for multiple IOCs.  There are also places like INS that provide video services.

The problem with the Microsoft/AT&T approach is quite different.  AT&T provides a Layer 3 home.  Most of the IOCs have used a Layer 2 home and use VLANs to separate out the video and data from each other.  This has the advantage of being able to wholesale out one part of that or the other (which is required if you are sourcing your video from one guy and data from another).  You could do this by building a home that used both Layer 2 and Layer 3 to separate video and data but that would seem to cost a lot of money.



upand2theright 12/5/2012 | 4:18:15 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

MSFT Mediaroom doesn't work on broadband pipes smaller than 25 mbps.  It doesn't matter if the gear is on premises or in the cloud. The reality is MOT has proposed a solution for 5 percent of Tier 2 & Tier 3 carrier market with FTTH. Not exactly a world beater.

mbhenderson 12/5/2012 | 4:18:14 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV
MOTOROLA is using ETI's Triad to handle a hosted solution that allows a single Mediaroom instance to be shared between multiple systems while keeping all sensitive customer data private. ETI's solution also provides for STB registration, Caller ID, STB client version management and remote DVR in a hosted model.

gtmiptv 12/5/2012 | 4:18:09 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

Well, partially true. There is no minimum connectivity requirement in Microsoft Mediaroom offering. 20-25 mpbs is an ideal situation but to my knowledge, Mediaroom is functioning in as low as 1.5 mbps loops.

Garci 12/5/2012 | 4:18:03 PM
re: Motorola Plays Host to Microsoft IPTV

Indeed, ICC is the big bandwidth eater, but if you're planning SD video and a single STB per house (not sure how realistic this is in today's US market) you could easily go down the 3 or 4 Mbps route, even with ICC (instant channel change). For HD, you're really looking at more like 8-10Mbps though.

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