Frankfurt -- Ultra-Broadband Forum -- Speaking at the Ultra-Broadband Forum in Frankfurt yesterday, Hyun Chul In, director of the IPTV service from LG U+ , described the goals his company had set out when re-developing its TV service.
"We wanted to provide experience-based video content, unrestricted by device or content," said In. "We needed to focus on our strength, which is the all-IP network, and then diversify our content offerings through partnerships using an open platform."
The company decided on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform to create a flexible, open platform environment would allow more content to be easily integrated into the service and ensure enough variety for consumers.
"That's our competitive advantage," said In.
The company originally launched with a VoD service in 2006, adding linear IPTV three years later. In 2011 it launched an LTE network, shortly followed by a mobile TV service. But then in 2012, the company decided to switch to the current strategy, moving to the Android platform to create a more open system aimed at rapid partner and third-party application deployment.
UHD is an important part of the company's strategy, and its Android-based set-top supports 4K UHD and includes a quad-core CPU capable of decoding the highly efficient but processor-intensive HEVC video format. The set-top also includes 120 watt 4.1 channel speakers and internally installed woofers for sound quality that is equally advanced.
The UHD service is delivered using 60 frames-per-second and 10-bit color, with 3840 x 2160 lines of resolution. "That's over 1 billion pixels," In was keen to emphasize. "And we have developed some in-house picture noise-reduction technology for the best possible image."
Today the company has 726 UHD set-top boxes deployed, out of a total of 1.73 million.
LG U+ Discusses IPTV
The operator discussed the variety of features and applications its Android-based set-top box offers subscribers.
The company is also using LTE broadcast to link to the TV, and allows users to upload videos or live streams to an online feed. Family members can then tune in to channel 999, key in a specific number to log in, and view the content being uploaded by family members on their mobile phones.
The set-top has a microphone, so it can respond to voice commands. Users have 12 different voice commands they can use instead of using the remote control. The remote also features a headset jack allowing users to mute the TV audio if it is disturbing others, while still being able to continue watching TV.
LG U+ also sees the mobile phone as a second TV screen in the home. Users can view live channels or VoD streams on their phones, and also cast feeds to their TV screens. It also allows users to access personal content from residential devices when not at home.
The operator also offers a face-recognition app that can recognize movie stars' faces in videos and automatically link to web-based news and information about them. And it is launching virtual reality services shortly.
LG seems to have used its consumer electronics expertise to develop an advanced set-top box with a number of bells and whistles. And the operator credits its ability to integrate new features and functions such as the mobile content sharing with the TV to the selection of an Android based set-top platform.
That's not a formula that will necessarily work for everyone, but In's opening comments about building on network strengths through partnerships by using an open platform certainly made sense to me. I suspect the successful operators of tomorrow will have to be more agile, open and able to on-ramp partner applications rapidly.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation