Published: 08.39 Europe/London, June 10, 2011

Ziggo, Holland’s largest cable operator, will introduce interactivity and on-demand services to its entire population of zapper boxes. The cabler also wants to stream channels and VOD directly to tablets, both iPad and Android.

Starting this October, Ziggo will begin to send software upgrades to the universe of simple cable tuners, which so far have been unable to access the operator’s interactive and on-demand services. Using a cloud-based solution from an as yet unnamed vendor, the set-tops will be upgraded.

According to a spokesperson for the company, the upgrades will gradually take place, starting with the Humax cable tuners. The operation will take several months to complete and is expected to be finished sometime in 2012. Although the plan is to upgrade the entire universe of STBs, it is not known if the early models can also be upgraded.

Following the upgrade of the stand-alone devices, Ziggo also hopes to put a bit of software on the CI Plus modules, which people use in their certified CI Plus TV sets. This would also make these sets fully capable of using Ziggo’s interactive and VOD services.

The introduction of a cloud-based solution will solve a major issue for the operator, which uses a retail model for cable tuners. Customers buy their own set-top or PVR from a range of certified devices, but many of those are simple zapper boxes rather than 2-way capable sets. By upgrading such boxes with a tiny piece of software, these legacy tuners are also able to access VOD and interactivity.

Ziggo also wants to stream channels to tablets. Earlier this year, the operator introduced its first iPad App, which serves as an EPG and VOD promotional vehicle, streaming just trailers. According to a spokesperson, Ziggo is now in an advanced stage of negotiations with a number of broadcasters to start streaming their channels to tablets, both iPad and Android, as well as to mobile phones.

The service would also include a full VOD portal with the functionality to order movies and TV series on the tablet. Ideally, the service would no only be available in the customer’s home – as is the case with the similar Yelo service from Telenet, but everywhere where the customers has wi-fi access.

In order to promote its VOD and services, Ziggo will offer 10 free VOD movies and two free TV series on demand as part of its basic digital tier. The new offer will be part of the adjusted TV packaging, which the operator will start in September, and consists of around 60 SD channels, a number of HD channels and access to basic analogue tier of 25 channels.