Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners

The recently announced relationship between Minerva Networks Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd. could be the smaller company's entrée into large telco accounts and Nortel's chance to interlock one chosen middleware vendor with its IMS offering.

At this week's TelecomNEXT conference, Minerva and Nortel announced they have begun integrating Nortel's SIP and IMS capabilities with Minerva’s iTVManager middleware product. ”We’re writing code, they’re writing code, and we’re working together to make sure they work well together,” says Minerva marketing VP Matt Cuson. (See Nortel, Minerva Team on IPTV.)

The relationship is not exclusive in either direction and has not been written in a contract, the companies say. But Nortel salespeople are out selling the Minerva middleware platform alongside Nortel's IMS. "As of today we have one official middleware provider which is Minerva,” confirms Ken Couch, Nortel's director of marketing for IPTV and broadband networks.

Other pieces of Nortel's IPTV "ecosystem" include Amino Communications Ltd. and Tilgin AB (formerly i3 micro) set-top boxes; Kasenna Inc. VOD servers; Terayon Communication Systems Inc. grooming and ad insertion gear; and Irdeto Access B.V. conditional access technology, Couch says.

With less than 60 employees, Minerva has made its living thus far selling to IOCs. But the company says it's now showing up with Nortel at Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers.

“The bigger guys are very much into working with integrators,” Cuson says of Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers. “That’s how they’ve traditionally worked in the past and just because it's IPTV doesn’t mean they’re going to do something different.” (See Will IPTV Bloom in 2006?.)

Nortel's Couch says his company had previously been working with three middleware platforms -- Minerva, Myrio Corp. , and Orca Interactive Ltd. -- before "focusing in" on Minerva. Myrio might be the strongest of the three, says Heavy Reading analyst Rick Thompson. "I think, quite frankly, out of those three, Myrio is the only back-end middleware player that has a significant chance of competing with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)," he says. (See Myrio's Quiet Quandary and Microsoft Wins IPTV Deal at DT.)

Thompson believes Nortel's choice was influenced by the fact that Minerva's competitors have already found dance partners. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) has teamed up with Orca, while Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) picked Microsoft and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) chose Myrio -- all part of a trend where large integrators have glommed onto smaller IPTV middleware partners. (See Expect More IPTV M&A and Siemens Boasts IPTV Success.)

Among the top carriers in Minerva's sights is Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which has been testing Nortel's IMS technology in its labs since at least December. (See Verizon Tests Nortel's IMS.)

Minerva's Cuson says Verizon has begun looking more closely at the IPTV aspect of its IMS plans. “For the last two months we’ve been more involved," Cuson says. “The goal is to get a lab system in there and get them playing with it and try to get them to commit to a trial.”

Cuson says Verizon has always intended to select two IPTV platforms as part of its normal vendor selection procedure. “Microsoft was one, so the question is who is number two. We’re just trying to make sure we’re number two,” Cuson says.

Verizon is currently selling a cable-like video service as part of its FiOS rollout. The carrier chose that approach so that it could roll out quickly using older, proven technology. But analysts say Verizon probably will move to IPTV later on because of the decidedly better consumer experience of an IP-based offering.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 4:00:36 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners Verizon made a key decision to go with an RF overlay technology for the video instead of moving immediately to IPTV. This seems like a good move -- get as many subscribers as possible as soon as possible using tried and true technology. What are the down sides? Why didn't AT&T choose to do the same thing?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:00:36 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners
AT&T chose to do video over moderate reaches of DSL, as they believe the cost to build this network will be lower than the FTTP cost that Verizon uses.

Given this, they have no choice but to do switched digital video.

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:00:33 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners I also meant to add that AT&T will probably do some FTTH in greenfields.

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:00:33 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners Mark,

Your asking the right questions.

I would add that AT&T/SBC decided to locate many satellite head ends in regional areas and VOD/service servers closer to subscriber @ most of the COs. It's not clear to me whether VZ is on the same path, but it apears so.

pnni-1 12/5/2012 | 4:00:32 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners I disagree with Rick at HR. We have Myrio and ever since Siemens bought them there service has gotten worse. We thought that once that were owned by Siemens it would get better. We are a small fish compared to RBOC's but still we were an early customer. Oh well, were looking at other middleware vendor who already have what we have been trying to get Myrio to do for 6 months now. I think Nortel made the right choice by partering with Minerva.
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 4:00:32 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners Good points and thanks for the real-world perspective. But don't you think that as Minerva becomes more engaged with Nortel its relationships with its IOC customers might come under the same strain that you're feeling with Myrio?
pnni-1 12/5/2012 | 4:00:14 AM
re: Nortel, Minerva Find IPTV Partners With Nortel it is a partnership, not a complete buyout. I thought they would hire more people etc and really setup it up against ms.
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