Ziggo launches STB-less CI+ 1.3 interactivity

November 5, 2013 07.31 Europe/London By Robert Briel

Smit interactieve moduleDutch cable operator Ziggo is taking its Cloud TV interactive services a step further with the launch of CI+ 1.3 modules.

As the first operator in the world, Ziggo is launching its on-demand and catch-up TV services for customers with a new CI+ module (version 1.3 or higher), and a TV set certified by Ziggo.

Ziggo has been testing the CI+ 1.3 version of its Cloud TV interactivity for the past few months. Using ActiveVideo Networks cloud based interactive TV, Ziggo customers with a zapper box have already been enabled to use the operator’s non-linear services. Starting Wednesday, November 6, STB-less viewers can also access the additional features. It is a worldwide first to offer interactive TV over a common interface.

“This development offers our customers great benefits”, said Pieter Vervoort, VP consumer products and innovation at Ziggo.

“With the interactive CI+ module, customers can watch movies, television series and missed TV programmes directly on their TV-set and without the need for extra equipment, extra leads or an extra remote control. The advantage for Ziggo is that the look and feel, and the way interactive television is used, is exactly the same for all types of peripheral equipment.”

The CI+ 1.3 modules (CAMs) will be available from two manufacturers, SMiT and Quantis/Neotion. The modules are available in retail for an average retail price of EUR89 and also directly from the operator.

Ziggo continues to promote its high-end cable tuners with PVR with various promotional activities and special bundle prices. Ziggo’s cloud TV service has so far been a resounding success with 229,000 simple STBs activated for usage at the end of Q3, 2013.

According to Eric Meijer, senior product developer at Ziggo, there are now around 250 TV sets certified for CI+ 1.3 from Philips, LG and Samsung with others to follow soon.

At the moment, the Cloud TV services activates a ‘personal channel’ which streams the requested programme in DVB-C to the customer. The future CI+ 1.4 version will add new features such as extensions to the CI+ browser and the handling of multiple encrypted streams (multi stream).

Other new features include the ability to route high-bandwidth IP streams through the CAM, the ability for the CAM to control those IP streams, the new “Online Service Descriptor Table”(OSDT), and support for IP multicast.

The viewer can launch Ziggo’s Cloud TV service by pushing the red button, which – in theory – could interfere with the HbbTV signals from the broadcasters, as they are also activated by the same button. As Cloud TV is using html5, this will take precedence over the HbbTV function, thereby de facto blocking the service. At the moment, the major Dutch cable operators (Ziggo, UPC) are not distributing the HbbTV signals over their networks. Interestingly, the remote control of the UPC Horizon box doesn’t even have a red button.