Inuk Launches PC-Based Virtual Set-Top Box, "igloo"
--Signs Deals with Accedo Broadband, Cable & Wireless
UK-based IPTV provider, Inuk Networks (note: the company is best known for its Freewire platform, which offers video, voice and data services and which is initially targeted at the student market; it is delivered in collaboration with JANET, the backbone network for UK universities), has launched a virtual set-top box software product, dubbed igloo, which it says allows IPTV operators to deliver a "true television set-top box experience" (including both linear TV and VOD) to a desktop or laptop PC or Mac, using standards-based, technology-agnostic software.
According to the company, igloo is designed to emulate the operation and user interface of a standard set-top box: all on-screen information and controls are displayed as a graphical overlay on top of the video image. It supports both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoded viewing in both windowed and full-screen modes, the company says, and has built-in infrared USB remote control capability. Other features include an EPG; the ability to customize and brand its interface with a particular operator's look-and-feel; and PVR functionality that makes use of the PC or Mac hard drive. According to Inuk, igloo supports a number of commonly used middleware, content encryption and DRM systems, including Widevine's Cypher Virtual SmartCard and Industria's Zignal Entertainment Delivery Platform. "To date, the middleware for delivering IPTV services to the PC platform has been severely restricted, having to rely on multiple client software products, embedding a video player into Web pages or delivering proprietary solutions," Inuk CEO, Marcus Liassides, said in a prepared statement. "igloo enables IPTV platform operators to provide compelling services on multiple devices, handing the choice of how and where to watch TV over to their subscribers."
In other Inuk Networks news:
- The company has signed a deal with Accedo Broadband, an aggregator and distributor of interactive TV applications and content for IPTV and broadband-connected consumer electronics devices (note: the company, which was founded by telecom and media entrepreneurs, Michael Lant and Fredrik Andersson, offers a range of applications, including game, quiz, puzzle, video art, karaoke, weather, communications and user-generated content apps; earlier this year, it signed a deal to provide its "Funspot" games package to UK incumbent telco BT's IPTV service, BT Vision), that will see a new, branded games service added to Inuk's Freewire IPTV service. The service, which will be based on Accedo's Funspot games platform, will initially offer a selection of games free of charge, and will begin offering premium games over the next few months. Offerings will include puzzles, quizzes, card games, board games and more. Accedo will retain responsibility for managing the games, while Inuk will be responsible for customer billing and for the integration of the games into the Freewire platform. "As IPTV begins to take full advantage of the scope it offers in terms of interactivity, the addition of casual gaming on our Freewire platform acts as a core differentiator," Inuk marketing director, Nick Ruczaj, said in a prepared statement. "Understanding the need to create a compelling IPTV product on several levels, we saw the value in the Accedo application portfolio of delivering not only great content, but a gaming experience which is specifically designed around our viewers' needs."
- The company has signed a five-year, £70 million deal with Cable & Wireless, under which the latter will provide it with access to its UK-wide multicast network for the delivery of television, telephony and broadband data services. Inuk, which until now has focused on the student market, will use its new partnership with Cable & Wireless to extend its Freewire service beyond its current base of 40 universities, and target consumers across the UK, starting in March, 2008. The deal will also see Cable & Wireless offering Inuk's IPTV platform as a customizable, white-label solution to wholesale DSL customers that want to provide their customers with a digital television offering. "Cable & Wireless has the unique capability to offer an all-national wholesale multicast platform, so for us, the deal was a no-brainer," Inuk CEO, Liassides, said in a prepared statement. "It's great news for our customers as it means we can deliver triple-play services into the home and it's great news for us as we can expand the choice of services that we're able to offer in the future."
Originally Published: October 12, 2007 in [itvt] Issue 7.39 Part 2B
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