IBC NEWS: NDS Seals IPTV Deal With SES Americom

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Interactive TV software and conditional access supplier NDS has done a deal with satellite operator SES Americom to help support IP-PRIME, a digital bouquet of cable programming aimed at small North American telcos looking to launch IPTV video services.

SES Americom will distribute the NDS Synamedia Metro IPTV middleware solution in North America, representing the first global distribution agreement for Synamedia Metro, which was released in June. The solution supports interactive TV applications, Video on Demand (VOD), Electronic Program Guides (EPG), and interactive games, and includes the NDS VideoGuard conditional access system, which is currently deployed on 65 million set top boxes worldwide.

NDS was at IBC showing two new products aimed at providing personal video recorder (PVR) functionality without requiring local hard disk storage in a cable, IPTV or satellite set-top box.

One, called “Distributed PVR,” would rely on a home media server or hard disk storage in consumer’s personal computers to record and play out programming over a home network. 100% of current IPTV deployments feature a residential gateway that connects to the subscribers’ home and then routes content to set-top boxes, notes Nigel Smith, Vice President, NDS Broadband Internet Group. The concept behind Distributed PVR is to take that content and send it “whatever storage is knocking around in the house, whether it’s a NAS [a Network Attached Storage system] or a PC,” says Smith.

Smith believes that a NAS-based storage system, used as a home media server, will become a standard feature in consumers’ homes as they look to safely store various forms of digital media, including video, pictures and music. Distributed PVR would grab incoming content from the IPTV router and send it to such storage, then stream programming to various set-tops within the home as requested by the viewer, with full pause, rewind and fast-forward functionality.

Another new NDS system, called Share TV, is based on peer-to-peer networking and is similar to file-sharing technologies like BitTorrent, says Smith. It aims to exploit the growing trend of digital set-top boxes that have a broadband connection, such as IPTV set-tops or the broadband-enabled satellite set-tops being rolled out by BskyB in the U.K. and DirecTV and EchoStar in the U.S. After fielding a request for content from a viewer to see a program that already aired, Share TV would use the broadband network to find where the content is already recorded, such as on another subscriber’s digital set-top, and start pulling the content. Like other file-sharing technologies, Share TV would only grab a small chunk of data from each client, perhaps grabbing content from 5 or 6 separate set-tops in other subscribers’ homes.

“If you say you want this piece of content, it will start pulling it from other people,” says Smith.

Both Distributed PVR and Share TV will be available in early 2007.

While NDS content protection software has traditionally prevented television content from being viewed on PCs, in order to fight piracy, NDS was demonstrating a digital rights management (DRM) technology that would allow television content to be viewed on a PC or laptop. The system involved a small USB device that serves as a DRM key. After sending content to a laptop, plugging the DRM key into the USB slot would allow that content to be viewed.

“It turns the PC into a set-top box,” says Smith.

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