Minerva Extends IPTV Reach
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