French receiver supplier Netgem has been selected by the Australian telco Telstra to provide a hybrid set-top for its Big Pond service. Known as the T-Box, the HD-capable device incorporates two DTT tuners, a 320 GB hard drive, and the ability to stream content from Big Pond’s IPTV service. It will run Netgem’s own middleware that has been tailored to give a look and feel familiar to Telstra customers.
“In terms of prestige Telstra is a big name, so this is an important milestone in customer development,” Netgem managing director Christophe Aulnette told Broadband TV News. “When we said a few months ago that we would expand internationally, we could not prove it better than by signing a customer 20,000 kilometres away. Last summer, Netgem opened a small office in Sydney to help serve its new client, and adding to its regional office in Singapore.
Aulnette said that hybrid deployments made it possible to deploy services more cost effectively while addressing larger audiences. “For IPTV you need a level of bandwidth that is quite high, so it is beneficial to have the ability to use over the air for broadcast content on the one hand and the internet for VOD downloads, particularly with Netgem where you have progressive download in the core of our products, you can deploy in low bandwidth areas.”
The T-Box will initially be trialled in a few hundred homes in Melbourne before being rolled out across the country.
In all one million Melbourne homes will be upgraded to broadband speeds of 100 Mbps, though Aulnette pointed out that this is far in excess of what is needed by the T-Box, given its progressive download functionality.