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180Squared targets hospitality with IPTV managed service


02/11/2009

180Squared has teamed up with carrier Ethernet provider MBO Video to offer an IPTV managed service, dubbed Cirrus Managed Cloud Solutions. The companies will establish a shared installation of IPTV middleware among multiple entities, beginning with hotels and hospitality providers, while keeping each individual’s back-end systems separate.

180Squared, formed in April 2008 to focus on billing/operational support systems or IPTV deployments based on Microsoft Mediaroom, announced last week that it would expand its support to any middleware platform. As part of that, it’s also looking to expand into new verticals — hotels, casinos and other hospitality services being the first. MBO Video is using 180Squared’s Unison platform to do so.

“Unison is the ability to turn any installation of a video platform into a cloud-based service,” said Amir Littman, vice president of business development for 180Squared. “Not from an over-the-top perspective, but providing the service provider a method to provide service to another service provider. That is revolutionary. Not only can they provide other service providers service, they now can leverage the same technology to go into hotels and hospitality, which is something they’ve never been able to touch.”

Sharing the infrastructure will help these companies reduce the costs of deploying IPTV, according to Littman. Based on Mediaroom, the platform gives providers access to the company’s applications, including caller ID, remote personal video recorder (PVR) scheduling and whole-home PVR, as well as ongoing maintenance support. By sharing the installation duties, Littman said it can reduce the capital expenditures and operating expenses for service providers looking to enter the market.

The main adaptation made for the hotel and hospitality business is that real-time billing events are key for short-term “subscribers.” Billing has to be up-to-date the second a consumer makes a purchase, Littman said. 180Squared divides the middleware into logical units, or sites, in which it can handle all the billing and management integration independently, but from the same back end. The sites are also branded for that individual hotel or company, and 180Squared ensures there is no crossover contamination in which one user’s name would show up on another’s bill, Littman said.

“The reason that middlewares don’t normally handle this today is because they don’t have to,” Littman said. “Typically a service provider has one middleware that just has to service the subscribers that subscribe to that service, and they don’t have to deal with segmentation. Now we have a message that I can expand on that and provide service to other operators that now have that level of expectation.”

Littman said that IPTV providers and new entrants have been interested in this proposition because their business plan has only included their existing TV subscribers. Unison doesn’t require additional servers, infrastructure or licensing to get it up and running, so they see it and any additional revenue it might provide as icing on the cake, he said.



 

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