Integra5 Launches Suite of Social Media Applications

--Secures Deployments with Videotron, Cinergy MetroNet

Integra5, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in
technologies for converged services, has launched a suite of social
media applications, dubbed MediaFriends, that it bills as blending
real-time communications and community features across TV's, PC's
and mobile phones.
The initial application in the suite, MediaFriends
TV Chat, allows users to invite members of online buddy lists to join a
group chat on TV and to participate in the live discussion via SMS
messages from their mobile phones.

According to Integra5, the new application suite is designed to take
advantage of the fact that viewers are increasingly using social media
applications--such as Web sites, blogs and wikis--and SMS messaging
to socialize around TV programming in an ad-hoc manner, using a
combination of devices, including PC's and mobiles. It bills the
MediaFriends TV Chat product as providing a real-time shared TV
viewing experience that is both enhanced and simplified by
"intelligently leveraging the TV for viewing and participating in the
group chat, the mobile device for the ease and familiarity of texting,
and the PC for buddy list management." In order to use MediaFriends
TV Chat, viewers set up and manage buddy lists on their PC, which
they can then access on TV. Using their remote controls, they can
invite individuals or groups to watch a TV program together. When
their "buddies" accept an invitation, their TV automatically tunes to the
program, and a live group chat is displayed on the screen. They can
then participate in the chat by using their mobiles to send text messages
to a phone number displayed on the chat banner. "As consumers
embrace an increasingly digital lifestyle, their behaviors reflect a desire
to communicate in new ways that blur traditional service and device
boundaries," Integra5 CEO, Meredith Flynn-Ripley, said in a prepared
statement. "MediaFriends TV Chat is a natural extension of i5's
leadership in blending new communications experiences across all user
devices. Our i5 CSP, which embraces the open Web with a standards-
based architecture, enables operators to consistently meet subscribers'
rapidly changing media consumption behavior--quickly and easily
layering on new communications applications across TV's, PC's, and
mobile and landline phones with no new equipment or software
required within the home."

According to Integra5, MediaFriends TV Chat is scheduled for
availability early next year. The company says that future applications
in the MediaFriends product suite will incorporate such capabilities as
TV chat invitations that reach PC's and mobile phones; advanced
personalization features; "presence," so that viewers can see who is
watching a TV program; and integration with social networking sites
such as Facebook and MySpace. The MediaFriends suite is based on
Integra5's i5 Converged Services Platform (CSP), which the company
bills as enabling operators to rapidly deploy real-time converged
services across TV's, PC's and mobile and landline phones. According
to the company, the i5 CSP has been deployed by over 30 service
providers around the world; works in cable, IPTV and hybrid video and
telephony networks; supports a range of technology architectures
including IMS, tru2way and ETV/EBIF; and allows operators to embed
subscriber-managed features, such as personalization, active call
control and click-to-call into any application. (Note: for more on
MediaFriends and on Integra5's New Deployment with Videotron, see
[itvt]'s interview with Meredith Flynn-Ripley in Issue 7.97

In other Integra5 news:

  • The company says that Videotron--a provider of cable TV, broadband
    data, telephony and wireless services, whose network passes around 2.5
    million homes in Quebec (it is Canada's third-largest cable
    operator)--has become the first tier-one operator to deploy the i5 CSP.
    The operator is initially using the platform to offer Integra5's i5 TV
    Caller ID application--which it is branding as "illico Caller ID"--to all
    subscribers of its illico digital cable service. The caller ID service can
    be purchased on its own for CDN$2 per month (with the first three
    months free of charge), or as part of an optional telephony feature
    package that also includes voice mail, voice messages by email (for
    broadband customers), call forwarding, call waiting and three-way
    calling for CDN$10 per month. "More than 50% of our customers
    subscribe to two or more of our services, so offering new ways to blend
    those services into new experiences across devices highlights our focus
    on convergence and leadership in service innovation," Videotron's VP
    of technology development, Michel Allard, said in a prepared
    statement. "Integra5's platform provides a fast and effective way to roll
    out converged services that do not require any new hardware or a visit
    to subscribers' homes and yet still empower subscribers to manage,
    customize and control illico Caller ID to optimize their communications and entertainment experience with Videotron."
  • The company says that Cinergy MetroNet, a Midwest triple-play
    provider that operates an all-fiber-optic network, has deployed the i5
    CSP and is using it to offer the i5 TV Caller ID application across its
    markets. Cinergy MetroNet is offering the application free of charge as
    part of its triple-play bundle, or as part of its dual-play (TV and phone)
    bundle for a separate fee of $2.95 per month. By accessing a network
    address book on Cinergy MetroNet's customer Web portal, subscribers
    can organize contacts for Caller ID on TV notifications, and customize
    them with photos and nicknames. The app also allows them to view a
    call log on their TV screen that shows the names, numbers, dates and times of recent calls, and lets them use their remote controls to manage
    call settings, such as turning notifications on or off and specifying how
    long caller ID information remains on the TV screen. "Our investment
    in an all-fiber optic network represents our commitment to providing an
    unparalleled user experience for our customers," Cinergy MetroNet VP,
    Kevin Stelmach, said in a prepared statement. "Integra5's Converged
    Services Platform allows us to consistently deliver on this commitment
    through advanced, value-added services that our subscribers can
    personalize and control--starting with Caller ID on TV today and
    offering the flexibility to meet our subscribers’ changing
    communications preferences with the addition of other new real-time
    communications services across TV's, PC's, and landline and mobile