Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries has told how the operator evaluated the TiVo content discovery system before opting for the multimedia home gateway that will run on technology designed to distribute voice, video and data around the home.
“We are making great progress with Samsung, Intel and NDS on the development and integration of the hardware and software components here and we continue to feel very positive about the impact that this IP device for the home will have on our digital TV and broadband business,” said Fries.
He added that Liberty had been in conversation with a number of US and European operators over the device that is anticipated for deployment on the UPC network during the first half of 2011.
Fries’ comments have produced clear blue water between Liberty’s strategy and that of Virgin Media and ONO, which have both opted for TiVo as their next generation set-top. TiVo will make its European market debut with a soft launch on Virgin ahead of Christmas. Liberty has contracted NDS to provide the latest version of its MediaHighway middleware. Both devices are expected to have the capability to pull in selected content from the internet.
“We looked very closely at the TiVo solution and viewed that as taking one quarter of a step, this is a full step, maybe even two steps, Fries told an investor call. “This is something our industry has talked about for a very long time and nobody has delivered, including TiVo”.
Fries described how subscribers would be able to use the gateway to communicate with multiple Wi-Fi devices while sitting in front of the TV, moving content to an iPad from another device elsewhere in the home, over the IP network. “This isn’t just a slightly better user interface, this is an entirely different approach to the user experience, but more than that this is about putting a device in the home that has all the bells and whistles that your PC has today in terms of a very fast processor, multiple Wi-Fi chips, six tuners, and importantly the ability to communicate with your Wi-Fi devices.”
Because Liberty still has close to ten million homes that use no set-top box at all – the cableco has not set a date for an analogue switch-off – Fries said this presented a unique opportunity.