CTAM EUROSUMMIT ’10 – BUDAPEST. Liberty Global President and CEO Mike Fries has said the operator is in talks with over a dozen operators that each want to replicate the multimedia home gateway, known as the Horizon Project, on their own networks. “We are in discussion with multiple operators to come on board,” said Fries. “We are not competitors and this is a great opportunity to fall in line and benefit. You can’t have 14 operators each developing their own solutions. I am sure Intel and Samsung will love it.”
Interviewed by CNN anchor Richard Quest, Fries told the audience to expect the first working boxes by next summer. “As an industry we can no longer rely on traditional programme guide, the grid, that is not going the work. We need to go forward and develop a more powerful tool and use a more elegant approach. Until now, we have simple decoders, not powerful devices. Our new boxes will have the smarts.” Although he described Project Canvas as being peculiar to the UK market, representing the best and worst, Horizon will also allow apps onto the platform, Fries arguing that there would be no need for customers to take apps from their connected TVs when they were right there on the cable platform.
Regarding the on demand services, Fries said content owners should provide content for VOD for free, “We already pay them for linear distribution and we we like to get VOD for free. In the US, 95% of all on demand traffic is free. This is more a must have app rather than a business model.”
Questioned about the loss of subscribers in certain UPC territories, Fries said there are different reasons in each country. “In The Netherlands, KPN acts as a low price provider. They have 1 million customers, who receive just 23 channels. It is cheap and cheerful. In Romania we have competition from a four-year old satellite product that has no future, it targets low-end customers selling a product below marginal costs.”
“But we’ll come back out at them . If people want to see a football game in HD or 3D, or want to have access to catch up TV”.