Julian Clover checks out the floor of last week’s ANGA Cable event in Cologne.
Since the mid-1990s, ANGA Cable has steadily grown out of the German market, and extended its pool beyond the sector from which it gets its name. Some 15,000 people visited the Köln Messe, and as one person suggested to me it was no longer a requirement to speak German in order to go on one of the 395 stands, underlining the international credentials.
As we discussed in this column last week, the country that produces Europe’s best cars, doesn’t necessarily have the best technology. At least it is unwilling to pay for it. So as I wandered into town on the tram it came as no surprise to see one of the other passengers with an unbranded HD satellite receiver tucked under his arm.
If only my fellow passenger had been inside the halls. The NDS stand for one was showcasing what was on offer to German cable and satellite customers alike. Conax also had new set-top technologies on display, its tie-up with TiVo counterbalancing Kudelski’s recent acquisition of OpenTV, and keeping the equilibrium between middleware and security. Conax has signed an agreement that will help push the TiVo set-top experience into more homes. Localisation will be an important factor, even if Conax are trying to create an out of the box solution. The demo showed links to Blockbuster and Netflix, though local deals will need to be done.
The hybrid solution has already been directly sold to Virgin Media with one more European cableco believed to be waiting to sign on the dotted line. The experience offered was sophisticated, maybe too much so, but the all-important customisation must come first.
Have been considering opening a book on which manufacturers would be most likely to produce the box, but after the UPC-Intel-Samsung announcement, all bets are off.
Middleware is I sense entering a new phase as operators simultaneously look to introduce new hybrid technologies while checking the expiry dates of existing contracts.
More important than fixed contracts is the fixed infrastructure, and it doesn’t matter how advanced your services are if you can’t take them beyond the kerbside. Mica has looked at utilising existing coax cables around the home and now the Hartmannsdorf-based ELCON has applied the same principal to larger buildings, allowing hospitals, schools, as well as the hotel and housing sectors to keep the broad in broadband.
Matching old technology with the new is an on-going problem, actually matching new with new is difficult enough, so I was interested in a conversation with Carl Walter Holst, CEO of Appear TV, a Norwegian company that has been supplying DVB-T software to cable companies. We’ve covered the use of DVB-T as a means to distribute digital signals over cable before, but according to Holst, the practice is now widespread. The premise is that with DVB-T tuners already in the marketplace the option is better than cable. Holst says the costs between the two forms of modulation are not that different, so the question is what has been deployed, and what might be in the future. YouSee CEO Niels Breining told me he believed there to be an increasing amount of DVB-C tuners in newer TVs, so the Danish operator is happy to keep with cable.
ANGA has proven that while cable is important, other modulations make for a good show.