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Minerva Extends IPTV Reach

NEW ORLEANS -- TelcoTV 2011 -- Minerva Networks Inc. today unveils enhancements to its xTVFusion 5 middleware platform that use adaptive streaming and compression to deliver video content over networks with bandwidth as low as 4 Mbit/s.

The idea is to extend the reach of IPTV providers so they can offer a compelling content package to a broader range of customers and improve their return on investment (ROI) on video services.

The move is recognition by Minerva that traditional IPTV, delivered via private multicast networks and requiring a minimum of 18 Mbit/s for high-definition streams, is having mixed fortunes.

Many IPTV providers struggle to make a profit once they've invested to add bandwidth to their networks and to acquire content, concedes Mauro Bonomi, Minerva CEO. Often they can only reach a small percentage of their total broadband customer base with an IPTV product, because of bandwidth requirements, and they are seeing OTT video erode interest in any pay-TV package.

"The platform we are unveiling will deliver advanced TV over much lower bandwidth connections and without the stringent requirements of multicast," Bonomi says. That means IPTV providers can deliver video services to a much higher percentage of their customers, and generate additional revenue for their broadband services.

In addition, they will be able to avoid the costly truck rolls associated with installing IPTV because the new Minerva platform will support using Wi-Fi inside the home to deliver video signals to connected TVs, PCs, tablets and smartphones. This new "Broadband TV" product can be delivered as ADSL has been -- the equipment can be shipped to the consumer for a self-install that uses auto-discovery.

Putting the system to the test
Etex , a Texas-based IPTV provider and operator of the Texas Lone Star Network , a 3,700-mile fiber network connecting Tier 2 and Tier 3 telcos, has successfully tested the Minerva platform's delivery of streamed video over ADSL, and even 3G and 4G wireless networks, and now plans to deliver its own extended IPTV service and offer members of the TLSN the ability to offer video content over their existing copper networks, says Matt Faggione, data-video technician at Etex. He believes this new platform will particularly help rural telcos.

"We'd love to go live yesterday," Faggione says, but the software Etex is using from Minerva is not yet generally available, and testing must be done with set-top box vendors, notably Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , Amino Technologies plc (London: AMO) and Entone Inc.

A content(ious) issue
The other issue is the content that can be delivered over this type of platform. IPTV providers have negotiated content rights for their existing service, but they won't necessarily be able to simply re-purpose much of the content they may already have, such as major cable channels, because content owners won't want their material being delivered over the public Internet.

Etex hopes to deliver some existing OTT content, such as YouTube and Picasa, and on-demand channels, and believes local telcos can also offer the local TV channels for which they have purchased retransmission rights, Faggione says.

Etex also hopes to add Avail-TVN 's video-on-demand offering to its mix.

More video will be made available through similar cloud offerings and could be delivered over the Minerva platform, Bonomi says. One function of the new platform is to enable a service provider to manage multiple sources of content, including managed video-on-demand (VoD), OTT content and personal content, as part of one premium service.

"Using our platform, a provider can manage all those sources, monetize them across all the sources of content," Bonomi says. "Managed VoD, OTT, and finally one of the other sources of content is personal media -- personal content can be discovered and played back."

Companies already offering IPTV services can add the new capabilities to their Minerva platforms to reach homes that can't get their existing offerings and boost their revenues, Bonomi says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

acohn 12/5/2012 | 4:50:37 PM
re: Minerva Extends IPTV Reach

Based upon Minerva's History, I wouldn't believe any of this until you hear of someone actually deploying it.  They have a history of selling lots of PowerPoint without a product...  They have lost their largest customers in North America and rumor is that their remaining "large" customers are looking for alternatives. 

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 4:50:35 PM
re: Minerva Extends IPTV Reach

I can't speak to the history, but the customer I interviewed at some length is using this today and says it works like a charm. They are even connecting set-top boxes to their server from locations in Nevada and California, through IP connections, although that's not part of their business model going foward.

mattf 12/5/2012 | 4:50:32 PM
re: Minerva Extends IPTV Reach

 We have been testing the xTVFusion 5 middleware platform from Minerva for several weeks and we have in fact been able to boot a set-top box on our 3g, 4g and ADSL internet connections. The set-top box connected to our hosted xTVFusion server via its IP connection and was able to join an HLS stream, Minerva OTT module and Widgets with no issue. Furthermore we are very happy with both Minerva’s xTVFusion platform and their support in our implementation of this product.

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