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Telefónica ushers in the next phase of IP video delivery on a global scale

Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica has signed a multi-year strategic agreement with Microsoft to create a new Global Video Platform (GVP) for the delivery of all video entertainment services across its operating businesses globally.

The new platform is based on key Microsoft technologies including the Mediaroom middleware platform, and will be able to deliver TV services over both managed (IPTV) and non-managed (over-the-top) networks on a global scale to a range of consumer devices.

The first GVP deployments will take place in Brazil, Chile and Spain, with more countries to follow, according to Ben Huang, Global Marketing Director for Mediaroom, speaking to IP&TV News earlier this week.

“The new GVP platform will simplify lots of the back-end processes involved in delivering Telefónica’s various TV services, and also make it easier to manage subscribers across multiple devices,” he said.

GVP includes key technologies such as Microsoft PlayReady, Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming and Microsoft Silverlight, meaning that delivery of TV services across these various networks and to multiple screen types can all be done via one common technology infrastructure.

This will garner significant efficiencies for Telefónica in terms of time to market, cost of delivery and overall scale, whilst reaching a range of devices including not only set-top boxes but Xboxes, tablets and smart phones.

Telefónica launched a premium IPTV service in Brazil earlier this month called ‘Vivo TV Fibra’, following a similar launch in Chile in October, and these two services are the first IPTV deployments that take advantage of the new GVP platform and its capabilities.

However, the first service enabled by the GVP platform was launched in Spain back in November 2011 – ‘Movistar Imagenio’ on the Xbox, offering its IPTV subscribers 12 linear channels focused on sports, including the Spanish First Soccer League (Liga BBVA) under Canal+ Liga Channel.

Ben Huang told us that an update will be coming for Movistar Imagenio on the Xbox shortly, offering closer integration of Kinect capabilities, such as voice and gesture control of the on-screen experience.

Microsoft Mediaroom deployments continue to go from strength to strength, and a very recent report from US firm ABI Research found that Mediaroom leads the IPTV middleware market with a 23% share globally.

Mediaroom deployments have now surpassed 11mn households, reaching more than 22mn set top boxes, from 44 commercially deployed operators in 21 countries.

This is an increase from 8mn households and 16mn set top boxes in a little over a year (14 months) – both increases over 37%.

Editor’s view: This is clearly a big deal for the Mediaroom team – but it is also very important for Telefónica, due to the gains in operational efficiency named above.

A telco with the scale and ambition of Telefónica clearly cannot maintain a piecemeal approach to its IP video operations.

We might be seeing here a fundamental shift in the way large global operators manage their video services -  the move to multi-screen, over-the-top delivery is inevitable, and somehow it all has to be tied together in a manageable, efficient way.

France Telecom/Orange did just that earlier this year when it contracted Viaccess-Orca to unify its IPTV and over-the-top services in France last March, with Poland following in June.

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