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IBC: Liberty Global Shows ‘Horizon Lite’

Liberty Global used the IBC confab to show off Horizon Lite, a version of its next-gen video platform that’s made to run on older set-top boxes that don’t support IP connections.

According to Broadband TV News, Horizon Lite will be introduced in some of Liberty Global’s central and eastern Europe systems.  The approach should allow Liberty Global to rapidly expand the reach of its Horizon platform on older boxes even as it continues to deploy new, IP-capable gateways.

The image of the Horizon Lite demo shown above was supplied to Multichannel News by a person in attendance at IBC in Amsterdam.

On its Q2 call, Liberty Global said it added 62,000 new Horizon TV subs in the period, and that it had added almost 600,000 new subs to the platform over the prior 12 month period. It ended the quarter with nearly 4 million “next-gen TV setups,” a figure that factors in Liberty Global’s deployment of TiVo-powered devices.

The report also speculated that Horizon Lite will rely on cloud TV technology from ActiveVideo that can support advanced services and interfaces buy delivering them to boxes in an MPEG stream.  ActiveVideo declined to comment. Liberty Global has been asked to comment on the technical underpinnings of Horizon Lite and the MSO’s rollout plan.

But ActiveVideo and Liberty Global have some business history. UPC Hungary, a unit of Liberty Global, is using ActiveVideo to deliver YouTube to older set-top boxes. Liberty Puerto Rico is also using the vendor's tech for a Social Content Navigator that presents a slate of live TV channels based on their popularity using near real-time viewership data.

Support for Horizon Lite would represent a big win for ActiveVideo, which was acquired in May for $135 million through a joint venture of Arris and Charter Communications. Arris owns 65% of the J.V., though ActiveVideo is operating independently of the companies.  Charter is also relying on ActiveVideo for a new cloud-based Spectrum Guide that can run on the MSO’s entire set-top box footprint.

According to Broadband TV News, Liberty Global also showed off a new “Connect Box” that will be deployed by end of year by Ziggo, Telenet and Virgin Media.  More technical details on the device/gateway, which apparently includes a high-speed modem and integrated WiFi, will reportedly be announced in the next few weeks.  It’s not yet known if the new device will be made to support DOCSIS 3.1, the emerging multi-gigabit platform for HFC networks.

In August, Liberty Global said it was testing D3.1 in the lab, and was preparing for live trials in a subset of its markets in early 2016.