Technology

Next-Gen TV Dawns on LGI’s ‘Horizon’

9/12/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Taking center stage at the IBC trade show
last week, international cable operator Liberty Global Inc.
took the wraps off Horizon, its media and entertainment
platform for the home that blends cable TV, Web and personal
content.

With the debut of Horizon — a project nearly two years
in the works — the operator is “reinventing television,”
LGI president and CEO Mike Fries said. The gateway
allows subscribers to access content from multiple devices
and provides an open platform for apps on the TV, he said.
Fries demonstrated
Horizon during
a keynote at IBC in
Amsterdam.

The Horizon
project is similar to
Comcast’s Xcalibur
trial, which blends
Web content into
an enhanced onscreen
guide (see
“Comcast’s Roberts
Wields ‘Xcalibur
TV,’” June 20, 2011).

Liberty Global
is currently conducting
field trials
of Horizon in the
Netherlands and
later in 2011 expects
to move to consumer
trials. Commercial
launch is
planned for the first
quarter of 2012 at
UPC in the Netherlands,
with UPC
Cablecom in Switzerland
and Unitymedia
in Germany
following soon thereafter.

Liberty Global — which announced plans to build the
gateway at the 2010 Cable Show — developed Horizon with
a passel of technology partners.

Samsung Electronics built the home gateway, powered by
Intel’s Atom CE Media Processor. The middleware and the
user experience were developed by NDS, while Nagravision
is providing the conditional access solution through Nagra
Media Access. Empathy Labs provided the website design.

Horizon includes a “TV Everywhere” component.
LGI is using IOKO’s enterprise service platform and the
video-content management system from Comcast’s
thePlatform subsidiary to deliver TV content to computers,
tablets, smartphones and other devices both inside and out
of the home.

According to LGI, Horizon is designed “to put a computer
at the heart of your digital home.” The gateway connects
via Wi-Fi to computers, tablets and smartphones, and also
supports the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) and
the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) specifications.

The user interface, based on NDS’s Snowflake framework,
features 3D graphics for enhanced navigation and
will provide search and recommendation features, as well
as integrated access to personal media such as photos,
music and movies stored in the home or in the network.

In addition, Horizon includes applications for smartphones,
tablet devices and Web browsers to provide access
to cable TV and other content on different devices
both inside and outside of the home.

LGI also sees Horizon as providing an open platform for
TV-based apps to deliver even more content to subscribers,
and 60 content providers have already developed apps
for it. The operator is working with content providers including
YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to develop applications
for its “app store.” Liberty Global expects to launch
a software developers’ kit for Horizon shortly.

Other news of note from IBC last week:

Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cable provider,
also is going über the top. KD inked a deal with Concurrent
Computer to deploy the vendor’s MediaHawk
video-on-demand platform to deliver content to an array
of consumer electronics devices.
The operator will integrate
Concurrent’s solution
with SeaChange International’s
EventIS back office
system and NDS’s client solution.

• Israeli startup Jinni
announced that Microsoft
licensed its semantic
content-discovery technology
for video entertainment,
which uses a set of
more than 2,000 tags to describe
mood, plot and style
of a piece of content. Terms
weren’t disclosed. Microsoft
declined to provide details on how it intends to use the
Jinni technology.

Adobe Systems said its Adobe Pass authentication
service for “TV Everywhere” is now offered as
a log-in option to content providers serving about
90% of the U.S. pay TV market. Programmers and
content portals using Adobe Pass include Fox Networks,
Turner Broadcasting System, Hulu, MTV
Networks, Scripps Networks Interactive and AMC
Networks.

Harmonic debuted the Electra 9000, a multicodec,
multiformat video encoder that packs in support for
broadcast
TV, mobile
and Web video
formats in a
one-rack-unit
chassis. The unit provides up to four audio/video processing
modules per chassis, with up to eight broadcast output
profi les and 32 multiscreen output profiles.

• Liberty Global’s UPC Austria said it achieved a sustained
maximum downstream Internet speed of 1.3
Gigabits per second over its live network in Vienna using
equipment from Arris Group. The test — a proof-ofconcept
aimed at showing the long legs of cable’s hybrid
fiber-coax architecture — was conducted with Arris’s commercially
available C4 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem termination
system and the vendor’s Touchstone data modems.

• RVU Alliance members, including Broadcom, Direc-TV, Entropic Communications and Pace, demonstrated
their latest remote user-interface solutions based on the
RVU standard.

September