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How we help operators with existing TV services move to multiscreen

May. 31, 2021
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Let’s rewind ten years. Wikileaks released thousands of classified documents, planes were grounded in Europe when Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted, and IPTV 1.0 was big business. If you are an operator that offered TV services in the pre-cloud era, it is likely you invested huge amounts of money in your infrastructure. The marketplace was full of massive vendors who offered end-to-end solutions for IPTV. Fast forward to today, and those companies have all gone, withdrawing from the market.

If you are looking to modernise your TV offering so that it is fit for the next ten years, you can be left with a bit of a conundrum. You may have inherited a system that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at the time and was accompanied by a huge tender process to buy it all in. 

Many of our conversations with new customers centre on a strong institutional reluctance to get rid of all that costly hardware, as it is viewed internally as a waste of resources. It may provide bespoke functionality that is difficult to replicate elsewhere. But many companies in our space will insist on throwing all that old kit away and starting afresh with theirs. 

Keep what you need

SmartLabs doesn’t do that. We always start our conversation with operators in this position by taking stock of their current IPTV setup. We take a consultative approach, talking to the network team, the hardware team and anyone else that might be involved to find out how much of their kit is still supported and what they want to keep. We will discuss how that is best achieved and what enhancements will be required to deliver the best subscriber experience in the future.

One principle underpins all these conversations. We want to keep the cost of moving to a modern platform as low as possible, which means that our goal is always to make use of as much of the existing hardware as possible. We have plenty of experience doing just that. One of our current projects involves an Eastern European ISP. It has installed 140,000 set top boxes in homes, and instead of throwing them away and requiring the operator to replace all the hardware, we are migrating all the boxes to our platform.

Gary Hamer, senior vice-president of sales and business development at SmartLabs, explains further: “We have switched the headend and are migrating all the boxes to our solution, without users experiencing any service disruption, while providing subscribers with an enhanced TV experience. This ISP has not wasted anything. Its platform was built with a different provider, but it has now taken the next step and moved to multiscreen with SmartLabs.” 

That is just one current project. One of our largest was eight years ago, when we worked with the Biggest Eastern European incumbent to migrate hundreds of thousands of legacy set top boxes from ten different vendors to our platform. That project involved working over seven different time zones, so we are set up to cope with large, ambitious projects.

Our interface advantage 

The trigger for many operators to upgrade to SmartLabs’ platform is a need to improve the user interface. With the likes of Netflix continually upgrading the way its customers interact with its service, it is important that operators have a way of keeping up. Operators switching to SmartLabs benefit from the fact that we deliver a proven, robust, fast and attractive interface that has been worked on and improved for years.

“We support operators with set-top boxes running Android, Linux or even both” says Gary. “The user interface is identical across the two, which means the operators won’t have their customers asking them for a new box at contract renewal time, keeping the operator’s costs low. We share our roadmap of continual upgrades to our interface with our operators, and any of them with a support contract with us gets access to these at no additional charge.”

Talk to us today to find out how we can evolve your IPTV systems to offer a better service and experience to your customers, while keeping your existing equipment in place. Email us at sales@smartlabs.tv to get the conversation started.