From Interactive to Personal Television...

Published: 9 March 2012 y., Friday

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) market leaders from all over the world have been discussing IP television and its trends in Vilnius. The conference and symposium, which are taking place from 6 to 9 March in our country, are organized by international organization Open IPTV Forum and the company Penki Kontinentai. On this occasion we spoke to Idrak Dadashov, the Chairman of the Board of the company group Penki Kontinentai about IPTV market and its future.

Open IPTV Forum is organizing this conference in Vilnius. Why the capital of our country has been chosen? What makes this event important for the whole Lithuania?

We are very delighted that Open IPTV Forum, of which we have become a member last year, has chosen to organize this conference in Vilnius. Of course, this is not an accidental choice. Recently at a conference in Munich the association FTTH Council Europe has announced that according to the development of the fiber-optic internet and availability of extremely fast access technologies for the private and business users Lithuania has taken the first place for the third time in a row among European countries. So we are ahead of the technologies and IPTV combines what is the most modern, most advanced and most innovative in the media industry.

It is worth noting that there is a transparent and open investment environment in Lithuania, therefore such global leaders as Cisco, Motorola, Gemalto, Ericsson and other companies interested in the development of IPTV technologies and services have already expressed the desire to participate in different projects and events, which will take place in the future in our country. For Lithuanian people this is also a great opportunity to get comprehensive information about IPTV at first hand and to have an overview about the development trends of this technology.

As for IPTV, what trends and perspectives are noticeable in the world?

Ever since the start of designing and constructing of the fiber-optic network Skynet (in 1998), IPTV technologies-based services have been the priority of our strategy. Since 2001, we have been performing IPTV laboratory tests as well as selecting technologies and equipment. Today I would not want to talk much about common interactive services such as Live TV and its functions: EPG, favourite, additional, personal channels, TV channel blocking by PIN code, variety of services related to VOD (Video on Demand), social communication, Internet, virtual services, video rental and cinema halls. They became a norm for the customers of most of the operators. Additional IPTV services such as Google Maps, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, RSS, video games on TV no longer are a surprise too.

Currently, most of the developers of IPTV technologies are moving towards personal television. This means that users will have an opportunity to create what they want to watch on TV themselves according to their needs, habits, hobbies, lifestyle and activities. And that is where huge opportunities present themselves. Users with the help of a personal graphic controller (widget) will be able to do everything on their TV screens: buy, sell, review various statements such as account statements, pay bills, as well as advertise their products and services if required. 

Speaking of today’s products, I would like to highlight a new platform for banking and retail services – IPTV Banking & Retail. It is a full-rate channel, just like a bank branch, with all the equipment for payment cards (EFT POS terminals, checkout systems, ATMs to withdraw and put money), electronic and mobile banking. In IPTV environment television becomes an intermediary between the bank and the client, a shopping center and a customer. We see great opportunities here. Thanks to standard graphical user interface, people can easily administrate their bills, perform various bank transactions, open virtual account, review account statements, as well as shop online and pay for the price-and-quality-satisfactory goods and their delivery. It is even easier and more convenient to administer all these services when using smart phone and tablet PC along with your remote control.

I would also like to remind you of our Smart House system which automatically scans meter readings according to current tariffs (gas, hot/cold water, electricity), generates and saves the bill. The combination of Smart House and IPTV Banking & Retail makes the bill payment even easier and more convenient. Under My Family Budget section, users can analyze cash flows for any selected period. At the same time, payment and loyalty system PayLo allows to evaluate customer’s loyalty when paying the bills.

The combination of all these listed products inspired us to create Central Video Management.iQ system, which is able to manage not only the advertising medium of banking and retails sectors (according to Direct market conception), but also analyze its efficiency according to analytical data. However, for these services to faster reach our TV screens, it is necessary to standardize and unify the middleware, terminal equipment, get ready for certification and standardization processes and so on. This is a huge job. And we are delighted that we have received great support and understanding from Open IPTV Forum when creating our products.

What could you say about user data protection when talking about this sector?

Selected hardware for broadband Internet plays an important role in securing media content presentation and technical monitoring. Cisco Systems and Motorola Mobility equipment used in fiber-optic Skynet network and securing video signal encryption help to ensure this. All of this contributes towards the fight against piracy, as well as allows playing media in high quality HD and 3D formats.

However, not only technologies are improving, but also the methods and techniques of the criminals. Penki Kontinentai experience of working in banking and retail sectors, as well as its set of different standards (PCI DSS - Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, PA-DSS - The Payment Application Data Security Standard) could greatly speed up the development of IPTV Banking & Retail services. I am sure that customers, service providers, media content developers and providers will be able to make certain of the necessity of common standards of IPTV services and certification procedures in the near future.

What is IPTV’s tomorrow according to you?

Young people, who are the main users of IPTV platforms, were born when television, video players, computers, Internet, mobile phones have been already invented. My generation is not so lucky. Having seen the television for the first time 50 years ago and seeing today’s TV format, as well as having seen the monitor screen 40 years ago and knowing and observing what is offered today, I can easily foresee where interactive personalized Smart TV+ - a symbiosis of TV and computer – goes. It also matches comfortable design offered by many global companies, representatives of which are present here in the event in Vilnius.

We have been fiber-optic network Skynet suppliers since 1998. Our company was the first in Lithuania to offer fiber-optic Internet and IPTV services. IPTV is an important part of our company’s strategy. We continually offer new IPTV solutions which expand the spectrum of the services available on TV screens. However, this should not be all. We plan to move IPTV to banking and retail, security, smart house, medicine, tourism, e-voting, distance education, and other sectors. Participation in Open IPTV Forum is an honor for us. We value the opportunity with the world’s IPTV leaders to discuss and create global IPTV standards, make this service more accessible for every user as well as, of course, for Lithuanian people.   

Monitoring the development of media services for more then a decade allows us to predict that IPTV opens up unlimited opportunities in providing each individual user with various interactive services. The more these services will be accurately addressed to a specific person, the more trust there will be between a man and device, which has become a particular adviser and a friend in today’s world.

Thank you for the interview.

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