Liberty Global Shows Off 'Horizon' Next-Gen Gateway

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Liberty Global Inc. took the wraps off Horizon, its media and entertainment platform for the home that blends cable TV, Web and personal content, which includes a "TV Everywhere" service powered by the Comcast's thePlatform online video management subsidiary.

With the debut of Horizon, the operator is "reinventing television," LGI president and CEO Mike Fries said, allowing subscribers to access content from multiple devices and providing an open platform for apps on the TV. Fries demonstrated Horizon during his Thursday keynote at the IBC trade show in Amsterdam.

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 Q1 2012 at UPC in the Netherlands, with UPC Cablecom in Switzerland and Unitymedia in Germany following soon thereafter.

The MSO -- which announced plans to build the gateway at the 2010 Cable Show -- developed Horizon with a passel of technology partners.

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

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 MoCA and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ecosystem.

The user interface 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 provide access to cable TV and other content on different devices both in 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.

LGI is using IOKO's enterprise service platform and thePlatform's mpx video-content management system to deliver TV content to computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices both in and out of the home.

"We're committed to providing our subscribers even greater access to their favorite shows, and enhancing the value of their subscriptions beyond the TV screen," LGI vice president of digital technology Ryc Brownrigg said in a statement.