NDS Secures Interactive TV Deployments in India, Germany/Austria

--Launches Pre-Paid Conditional Access Solution

Interactive TV and conditional access technology provider, NDS, on Wednesday announced new deployments in India and Germany/Austria, and launched a pre-paid conditional access solution.

The Indian deployment is with Gujarat Telelink Private Ltd. (GTPL), an independent cable operator in Gujarat. GTPL plans to deploy an end-to-end NDS solution comprised of NDS's MediaHighway middleware, an EPG, interactive TV applications including games, and NDS's VideoGuard conditional access technology. According to NDS, the deployment will see VideoGuard securing over 180 digital channels, including premium content such as international movies, and value-added content such as a "songs-on-demand" service. The company says that GTPL also plans to launch a VOD service, based on NDS technology, in the coming months. "With its unique combination of innovative world-class technology, and professional services and support available locally, we look forward to working with NDS to move our business forward and to deliver the industry's best entertainment, information and other digital services to viewers," Anirudhsinh Jadeja, CMD at GTPL, said in a prepared statement. "With NDS as our technology partner, we are confident in our ability to provide a compelling digital TV proposition to our customers." NDS, which says it currently counts four major Indian operators among its customer base, maintains an R&D center in Bangalore and commercial offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The German/Austrian deployment is with Sky Deutschland, and sees the latter deploying the latest version of NDS's MediaHighway middleware to support the launch of a new pay-TV service. According to NDS, the new version of the middleware uses a Flash-based engine to "take the TV user interface, graphical experience and ease-of-use to a higher level." The middleware will run on new satellite HD set-top boxes that support MPEG-4. The deployment also sees NDS and Sky Deutschland working together to redesign the user interface and EPG for all the latter's MediaHighway-based satellite set-top boxes, in order to incorporate Sky Deutschland's new branding and design and to take advantage of new features in the latest generation of Sky Deutschland set-tops.

According to NDS, the new version of MediaHighway enables Sky Deutschland to offer advanced TV services, including services that combine broadcast and broadband content, and allows viewers to use an HTML-based Internet browser on the TV screen. It also includes multi-threading and multi-tasking features, NDS says, enabling Sky to add multiple applications and "scale significantly to enhance the user experience, without impacting quality of service." "Our partnership with Sky continues to strengthen with our involvement in the delivery of an advanced middleware platform ready for Sky's launch this summer," Yves Padrines, general manager of NDS's German arm, said in a prepared statement. "As a first step, Sky has deployed MediaHighway to support the extensive new technical specifications and design requirements during the launch phase. We are now helping Sky plan the extension of their service supported by our enabling, securing and interactive technologies." (Note: In its booth--Hall 1, Stand A71--at the IBC show in Amsterdam later this week, NDS plans to demo "how MediaHighway delivers on the promise of hybrid and multi-screen network environments, including the integration of broadcast and broadband content and the integration of social networking with broadcast TV.")

NDS's new pre-paid conditional access solution, dubbed NDS VideoGuard Pre-Paid and offered as an add-on module for VideoGuard, employs Brand-ID Europe's CHKVIEW backoffice payment solution, which provides consumers with various payment options, including scratch cards, smart cards, e-vouchers activated via mobile text messaging, and payment via Web portals or IVR lines. According to NDS, VideoGuard Pre-Paid allows consumers to purchase and store credit for future viewing or for immediate activation. Once they decide to purchase content, the company says, the appropriate amount will be debited from their stored credit. VideoGuard Pre-Paid then sends the entitlement rights from the operator's headend directly to the consumer's smart card inside the set-top box, and allows the consumer to access the selected content.

NDS touts the solution as enabling pay-TV operators to reach new market segments with the pay-as-you-go TV options that it makes possible. Those options, the company says, could include pay-per-view, pay-per-channel, pay-per-bouquet or pay-per-subscription. The company says that the solution requires minimal changes to the operator's headend infrastructure and is fully compatible with existing NDS products. "As consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of pre-paid options in the mobile market, pay-TV operators are seeing additional opportunities for such offerings in their space," NDS chief marketing officer, Nigel Smith, said in a prepared statement. "By offering customers more payment option flexibility, operators can quickly reach a new type of customer and begin to immediately see an increase in revenue. With VideoGuard Pre-Paid, our customers can deliver more customized packages to a broader target audience while still taking advantage of VideoGuard's market-leading business and security features."