Matanuska Telephone Association, an Alaska-based telco, will
buy high-definition set-top boxes from United Kingdom-based IPTV specialist
Amino Communications for its HDTV rollout.
MTA, which serves the
Palmer, Eagle River and Wasilla areas and is one of the largest independent
telcos in the U.S., is acquiring Amino's A130 set-top box, which handles a
single MPEG-4 HD stream, and its A530 HD DVR box.
Amino had already been providing MTA
with standard definition boxes.
The deal illustrates the growing demand for HD products from
smaller and midsized telcos, said Amino vice president of global sales Gary
"All of the telcos realize that to compete against cable and
satellite they must have a credible high definition offering," Hamer said. "In
the last nine to 12 months, we've seen very rapid switch from standard-definition
MTA provides about 60,000
lines across the huge 10,000 square mile area covered by its network and has
about 8,000 IPTV subscribers. Its high-definition channel lineup currently
consists of about 24 broadcast-TV and basic-cable services, as well as such HD
premium channels as Starz HD and Showtime HD.
Europe remains Amino's largest
market, accounting for about half of its sales, a figure that reflects the much
wider deployment of IPTV services in Europe versus North
America. But the company has deployed its set-tops and technology
in over 100 telcos in the U.S.,
mostly smaller and midsized companies, Hamer explained.
"We have a significant footprint in the U.S.
and we are working with them to upgrade to HD so that they can better compete
against their satellite and cable competition," he said.
These telcos are also increasingly looking to provide more
advanced services, such as HD DVRs, whole home DVRs and ultimately 1080p
content, Hamer added.
Amino has not yet formally launched its whole home DVR
product but Hamer said "it is already generating a significant amount of
interest. We are already doing pilots in a few telcos."
At Telco TV in Orlando Florida
next week, Amino will also be demonstrating a new hybrid set-top box that is
powered by Intel's new Atom processor CE4100. That box would allow subscribers
to access over-the-top content from the Internet and provide telcos with
additional standard and high definition content for their offerings, Hamer
Amino is also planning to roll out its first boxes capable
of handing 1080p HD content in the first and second quarters of 2010, with the
U.S. rollout likely coming in the second quarter.
Hamer admitted that delivering "1080p content over broadband
is very challenging. You are looking at enormous bandwidth requirements and a
somewhat limited area where it can be delivered."
As a result, Hamer believes the initial demand for the 1080p
box will not come from operators who are sending 1080p content over their
"We think the main use will be people who want to input
a lower quality stream and have the set-top box upscale it to a 1080p picture
so that their customers will get the best possible quality," on their 1080p
TVs, he said.