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Optical/IP

Video Smokes in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM – The summer holidays are over, and IPTV is about to take Europe by storm, if the past four days at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) 2004 event here are anything to go by.

Pumping TV and video content over broadband networks is one of the hottest topics among European operators as they wrap their collective brain around the pros and cons of triple-play strategies (see Carrier Comes Clean on Triple Play and Video Profits on Pause?). So to try and help them make up their minds, some of the key vendors in the sector saved up their major news for the show, which housed about 1,000 exhibitors and hosted 40,000 attendees.

So who made the biggest impact? Here's the pick of the IBC news.

  • IP video equipment maker Kasenna Inc. is emerging as one of the serious contenders for carrier capex, but has to compete alongside heavyweights Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).

    At IBC the firm waited until the last day of the event to unveil its networked personal video recorder (PVR) solution, called TimelessTV, which allows service providers to provide a PVR service without having to supply new, or replace existing, set-top boxes (see Kasenna Offers Networked PVR). The company also announced a new contract award in Russia (see Comcor-TV Uses Kasenna for VOD).

    Kasenna's CEO Mark Gray believes this latest innovation, which he says is already deployed by a customer in the Middle East, is just one of a number of features that can help carriers to get up and running quickly and cost effectively. He also points to the firm's security technology that allows content to be encrypted from the source to the end user's set-top box, so cutting out the potential for content theft by third parties involved in its distribution.

    Kasenna has transformed itself this year, having launched new content management systems, announced new deals, and raised $15 million in new funding. (See Kasenna Closes $15M Round, FastWeb Picks Kasenna, Kasenna Launches vForge, and Kasenna Primes VOD.)

  • Kasenna may have grabbed the limelight on Day 4 of IBC, but Microsoft, which spent nearly a week setting up a full demonstration of its IPTV platform at its stand, was the center of attention on Day 1, when it announced a trial with one of Europe's biggest and most innovative carriers, Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), and confirmed some key partnerships. (See Microsoft IPTV: Now That's Italian!, Microsoft TV Goes To IBC, and Microsoft TV Names Partners.)

    That announcement came hot on the heels of its involvement in a consumer trial at Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), giving Microsoft at least some impressive European reference names to fling about (see Is Microsoft Finally Carrier Grade?).

    Ed Graczyk, director of marketing at Microsoft TV, says the Amsterdam show floor and conference has reflected the growing interest in TV and video content delivery by carriers. "For the past two IBC events, IPTV has been an emerging theme," says Graczyk, but this year it's a major theme.

  • Other vendors making a big noise at IBC2004 included content protection and revenue assurance firm Latens Systems Ltd., which hooked up with a hatful of new partners, as well as launching a new product and getting its hands dirty in an IP TV demo. (See BitBand, Latens Team for VOD, Latens, nCUBE Integrate VOD, nCUBE Teams for Revenue Protection, Latens Launches Video Encryption Engine, and Vendors Stage IP TV Demo at IBC.)

    And SkyStream Networks Inc. laid claim to the industry's smallest video headend for operators as well as a new partnership. (See SkyStream Shrinks its Video Headend and SkyStream, Simac Partner for IPTV.)

    Other announcements at the show included:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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