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Tele Columbus Takes RDK Route to Next-Gen Video

Tele Columbus, a German cable operator with about 2.8 million subs, work with Espial on a next-gen, IP-powered video platform that will lean on the Reference Design Kit (RDK), a preintegated software stack for IP-capable devices that’s being managed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global.

Under the deal, Tele Columbus will license Espial’s G4 set-top client and Media Services Platform (MSP) backoffice, and tap Espial to integrate the MSO’s next-gen IP video platform. Espial’s role on the set-top box (Tele Columbus has not announced its STB suppliers for the project) will include the resulting platform’s user interface, according to Jeff Huppertz, Espial’s vice president of marketing and business development.

Tele Columbus, which grew in size when it acquired PrimaCom Holding earlier this year, is expected to start trials on the new platform later this year, and follow with full deployments sometime in early 2016.

Huppertz said Tele Columbus’s approach follows a trend/new model in which the operator separates the hardware from the software and develops UIs using a third-party design partner. He said Espial’s platform, which uses HTML5, will position Tele Columbus to provide an advanced platform on set-tops as well as mobile devices.

Ottawa-based Espial introduced G4 in May. It’s a fourth-gen set-top client can be applied not just to cable operators, but to telcos, satellite TV providers and other type of operators looking to provide a unified offering that blends on-demand, linear and OTT content. At the time, Espial said three operators, including one “major” MSO in North America and two in Western Europe, had selected G4 for their next-gen video platform. Those three operators have about 8 million subs between them.

The Espial G4 STB Client, Espial Media Service Platform and the Espial Experience professional services team were selected based on their industry leading software and expertise in RDK and user experience,” Ronny Verhelst, CEO of  Tele Columbus, said in a statement.

Tuesday’s announcement is Tele Columbus’s first public acknowledgement that it will use the RDK for its next-gen platform, and is an example of the platform’s progress outside the U.S.

RDK Development LLC has more than 25 MVPD licensees around the world. In addition to Tele Columbus, known MVPD licensees include Comcast, TWC, Liberty  Global, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Rogers Communications, Kabel Deutschland, and Japan’s J:COM.