The leading pay television provider in the Ukraine will be one of the first cable operators in the world to launch a television service beyond its conventional cable network. Volia Smart HD will be delivered both via the cable television network and over the top of third-party broadband services. It is an interesting example of an operator partnering with other broadband providers to extend its footprint with a full range of television and video services.
Volia, which has around 1.5 million cable television and internet customers across its footprint in 29 cities in the Ukraine, has created a wholesale offering for third-party service providers. The first partner announced is Datagroup, one of the main internet service providers in the Ukraine. Datagroup will offer the service in cities where Volia does not have a cable presence.
By launching services ‘off net’, Volia will significantly increase its service footprint, enabling all broadband users in the Ukraine to access over 130 standard and high-definition channels, together with video on demand and services like YouTube on their television sets. Volia will also deploy hybrid set-top boxes to its current cable customers.
Gyorgy Zsembery, the chief executive of Volia, explained the strategy to informitv at the TV Connect show in London. “Volia wants to be the leader of the interactive television revolution in the Ukraine,” he said. “We are committed to deliver the best content and technical quality to differentiate ourselves via offering innovative and convenient services.”
“We have got to this stage leveraging an ecosystem of robust and reliable partners who delivered high quality integration of hardware, software, online services and a variety of excellent video content.”
Volia is working with megogo.net, an online video service that operates in 15 countries of the former Soviet Union, with 20 million unique users a month. It is also working with oll.tv, a Ukrainian online video service which has around a million users a month.
Partners in the project include Minerva, Entone, Verimatrix, Anevia and Envivio, with Azdio as the overall system integrator, together with Romsat. The sevice will use adaptive bitrate streaming, enabling high quality video to be delivered over broadband networks without requiring multicast or quality of service provisions. Future plans include the provision of pause, restart and catchup television and multiscreen services.
It is significant that a traditional cable television operator is looking to extend its reach beyond its conventional cable network using over the top delivery. Other service providers have considered this, including Virgin Media in the United Kingdom. Now it seems adaptive bitrate delivery, which is good enough for movie services like Netflix, is ready for prime time television.
Notably, the over the top service is being delivered in partnership with other broadband service providers, in areas in which Volia does not directly compete. That should be a benefit for both parties.
A further advantage of using online video technologies is that Volia can extend the services to multiple screens, beyond the traditional set-top box.