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Video software

Sources: Myrio Upgrade Running Late

The latest release of Myrio Corp. 's IPTV middleware program is woefully late, industry sources have told Light Reading.

The new release from the Siemens Communications Group business is important because it will help carriers offer services badly needed to hold on to video subscribers. (See Siemens Snaps Up Myrio.)

The new release will reportedly enable many set-top boxes to decode high-definition (HD) TV, and will make personal video recorder (PVR) functionality possible for more subscribers. (See Espial Supports HD and Selling Telco TV: You Got $99?.)

One source says the release is six months late. Another says the release is "several months" late, and that the previous Myrio software upgrade took place a year ago.

The delay is partly Myrio's fault and partly the result of circumstances beyond its control, sources say.

A carrier source says the new version has a nasty habit of causing the set-top box to become suddenly unresponsive. The problem, the source says, happens at unpredictable times, and Myrio has had trouble reproducing the bug in its labs.

But the delay is "not just Myrio's fault," says one source. "They've got their whole set of problems and their skirts are not clean by any stretch of the imagination, but to blame everything on them is pushing it a little too far."

Myrio, like the rest of the industry, has had to wait a long time for MPEG-4 HD system-on-a-chip (SOC) products to make their way into set-top boxes. (See Tandberg TV Stock Off 38% After Warning.)

The chip manufacturers have struggled to get to market with the new chips, and multiple sources report bugs in the reference chips originally sent to set-top box makers. (See IPTV's High-Def Holdup.)

By most accounts those chips are just now becoming available, and the middleware makers have needed time to make sure their software integrates with the new generation of set-top boxes. (See STB Makers Support MSFT and AT&T Launches HDTV.)

MPEG-4 compression is important because it's about 50 percent more efficient than the MPEG-2 compression standard currently in use by most operators. With consumers demanding HD, and because HD demands a lot of bandwidth for delivery, the new MPEG-4 standard is crucial technology for telco TV. (See Handling Broadcast IPTV Content.)

Myrio, in a carefully worded statement emailed to Light Reading Thursday, says there is no delay at all. "No, HE 2.2 is not delayed, it’s being delivered as previously communicated to our customers," writes Ryan Petty, VP of product management.

"In our next release, HE 2.2, we will make significant feature enhancements to HD and PVR (both network and client), while making all of these features available on more set-top box platforms than anyone else," Petty writes. "We expect to announce trials of HE 2.2 with several customers in the coming weeks."

Myrio says part of its challenge is making sure new enhancements to its middleware product work on existing set-top boxes in the field. Many of Myrio's middleware customers are small and rural telephone companies. (See Pioneer Telephone Picks Myrio and Myrio Wins in Western Illinois.)

Myrio was acquired by Siemens in April 2005 for an undisclosed amount. Myrio middleware is well regarded by many analysts and industry executives, and is seen by many as a battle-hardened alternative to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s market-leading IPTV platform. (See IPTV MiddleWARs: Far From Over.)

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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