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Liberty Global ready to exploit cloud infrastructure

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Eric Budin of Liberty Global speaking at the Connected TV World Summit

Liberty Global is starting to exploit the benefits of cloud infrastructure. The company is moving headend functions like encoding, transcoding and multiplexing to the cloud, creating a more virtualized delivery infrastructure for its European operating companies. It is also about to deploy a more cloud-centric second generation of its Horizon whole-home/multiscreen service.

Faycal Amrani, Managing Director and Chief Architect at Liberty Global, went public last summer with plans for an 18-24 month project to virtualize video processing. “By going to the cloud we can improve the cost efficiency by quite a big number, whether it is centralized or in a network of virtualized data centers,” he explained.

On the consumer-facing side of operations, the company is launching a ‘Horizon in the cloud’ offering that will be available in one of its markets where the existing Horizon platform is not yet found. This new service will put the UI in the cloud. The company says it will make substantial investments to take parts of the Horizon TV experience ‘into the cloud’, which means content distribution and storage services as well as the user interface.

“These measures allow us to make new releases more simple and reduce the cost of our set-top boxes. Also, with more functions like recording moving into the cloud there is less dependence on local storage. This helps to further improve the lifespan of devices in customer homes,” a spokesman explains.

These details were outlined in Videonet’s spring report ‘Making the cloud work for TV’ and at Connected TV Summit last week, Eric Budin, VP, Product Strategy and Incubation at Liberty Global was asked whether the ‘cloud’ is a seminal transitional technology that is worthy of the fanfare it has been getting. He replied that Liberty Global is moving more and more elements to the cloud and is starting to investigate cloud PVR, while noting that nPVR is a big step to take, given the way it impacts business models, advertising and content partner relationships.

Liberty Global is still completely committed to customer premises equipment. It views the Horizon gateway as a mini-IP headend that enables multiscreen device monitoring and QoE management generally, and can support a growing range of services, including smart home services like security. A spokesman said in March that the company “will continue to improve and further update the firmware of the existing Horizon platform and set-top boxes.”

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