Deutsche Telekom is using Zenterio OS, the independent set-top box operating system, for its new ‘Start’ entry-level IPTV service in Germany, which is designed to complement the existing Entertain IPTV offer and is priced at just EUR 2 a month for DT broadband customers. This deployment represents the latest stage in a wide-ranging five-year partnership between the two companies.
Zenterio provides its set-top box OS for Deutsche Telekom operations in Romania, Hungary and Croatia for new IPTV set-top boxes (which also receive adaptive bit rate streaming services). In Greece, the Zenterio OS software has been used on all the new COSMOTE TV hybrid satellite/IP set-top boxes (first introduced in 2015) and all legacy STBs are being migrated to Zenterio OS.
Deutsche Telekom has been working with Zenterio as part of a larger project to consolidate the technology it uses across its central and southern European markets while it also modernises services. As you can read in this interview with Deutsche Telekom on the Zenterio website, the idea is to be more efficient in how the company develops, launches and maintains its services. An independent OS is viewed as an important part of this strategy.
The ‘Start’ IPTV set-top box deployment is the first time the Zenterio OS software has been used by Deutsche Telekom in Germany, and is therefore considered a major milestone in the partnership. Deutsche Telekom provides its own user interface for this new service.
Zenterio first came to prominence because its independent operating system solved a problem that many operators had – allowing them to consolidate multiple STB middlewares around a common software stack. This makes it easier and cheaper to maintain the device population, and means you can take new services to market faster (because you only need one integration each time).
The company has also been winning deals to provide the STB operating system for new platform launches. RiksTV, the Norwegian Pay TV operator, was among the first ‘new box’ customers, using the Zenterio OS for its hybrid DTT/IP set-top boxes. Tele2 in Sweden is another ‘new box’ customer.
Marco Frattolin, VP of Product Management at Zenterio, says new STB deployments and migration of existing device populations to Zenterio OS often go hand-in-hand, however. They are viewed as part of a general service upgrade strategy.
His company has evolved its own offer to ensure it can meet all customer needs. Zenterio now offers a multiplatform UI framework for STBs, smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart TVs, called JetUI. It also provides an audience measurement and analytics tool in a SaaS model.
Frattolin reveals that the company is also working on an Android TV solution for customers who want to use that operating system on set-top boxes. In this scenario, the company would be the project manager and fill any gaps in the software stack.
“Android OS is pretty solid and well managed but on its own it is not enough for operators to deploy out of the box,” he explains. “First you have to port to a specific chipset and device. While Android has added some television APIs, a lot of TV features are still missing: there is no support for DVB, conditional access, hybrid or DVR, for instance. There is no subtitling.”
Zenterio will be ready to help platform operators introduce Android TV (with Google certification) or Android OS, increasing the options available. These options also include, of course, Zenterio OS for new set-tops and Zenterio OS as an upgrade on legacy STB populations.
Megacable, the Mexican cable operator with three million Pay TV subscribers, provides a good example of how Zenterio is helping operators transform their operations. Zenterio OS runs on all its new (hybrid cable/IP) set-top boxes and is being used to migrate several different legacy boxes as well, so the whole operational environment can be harmonised. Megacable also uses JetUI to provide the user experience across all the (old and new) set-tops.
Zenterio OS and the JetUI framework initially ran on six different set-top box models (three with DOCSIS and three with Ethernet). Zenterio OS supports live DVB-C, hybrid OTT, ABR, network PVR, time-shift, start-over TV, catch-up TV, VOD and social sharing at Megacable.
OTE is another good example of how Zenterio can be used to consolidate legacy and new set-top boxes around the same operating system. As the first broadcast/IP hybrid platform in Greece (using satellite for the broadcast and the choice of any fixed provider for the broadband connection), the COSMOTE TV service enabled 48 hour replay-TV across 30+ channels. It also introduced HD movie rentals and DVR recording to an external hard drive, among other things.
The upgrade of old boxes began in late 2016 as a customer opt-in and passed the 85,000 mark earlier this year, meaning around 300,000 of the half-a-million OTE subscribers were on the upgraded hybrid platform. The remaining legacy subscribers were being converted during the spring and summer of 2017. OTE will be one of the first operators to have upgraded all its existing subscribers to a next-generation platform in this way.
Talking about the OTE rollout a few months ago, Jörgen Nilsson, CEO of Zenterio, said: “We congratulate them on their successful deployment. This is a clear demonstration of the advantages of separating hardware and software in terms of cost optimisation, consistent branding and future proofing.”
Photo: The established Entertain IPTV service at Deutsche Telekom