Canadian MSO, Videotron, Launches tru2way-Based Digital Cable Platform, "illico new generation"

--Platform Employs Technologies from Alticast, Cisco, Samsung

Quebec-based MSO, Videotron, on Wednesday announced the launch of "illico TV new generation," the new version of its illico digital cable platform, which has long been an early adopter of interactive TV technologies. The new version of the platform is powered by tru2way technologies from Alticast and by set-top boxes from Cisco and Samsung.

"illico TV new generation delivers a faster, simpler, customizable high-definition television-viewing experience that gives customers user-friendly access to an unparalleled selection of content and entertainment offerings, with a single click," Videotron states in its press materials. "It is supported by a technologically advanced, evolutionary platform...The technology is ready to be launched throughout Videotron's service area. illico TV new generation will be available in the Quebec City area, Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and Riviere-du-Loup as of April 4, and in the Greater Montreal area at the end of summer...In addition to giving users a new interface with entirely redesigned ergonomics for fluid, intuitive navigation, illico TV new generation features innovative new functions to meet Quebecers' needs:

  • New visuals: The illico on-demand film catalog (channel 900) can now be viewed as a series of movie posters for easier browsing. Users can choose their preferred display configuration, such as carousel or grid. The new interface has been harmonized with the illico Web and illico mobile environments.
  • One-click recording: The most user-friendly HD recorder on the market; supports automatic recording of TV series and simple management of disk space and of any recording conflicts.
  • Customizable program guide: The new program guide displays network logos to make it easy for customers to find their favorite programs. A filter option has also been added for greater convenience; users can choose to display only the channels included in their package or the ones they are interested in (sports, family, etc.).
  • Powerful search tool: Users can choose to sort all the content available on illico by title, director, actor or keyword.
  • Widgets: Interactive apps have been added for easy access to weather, free previews and new releases.
  • Simple parental control options: A PIN is created during initialization, streamlining the process...

The new service is powered by Videotron's vast array of content. As the uncontested content leader, Videotron has been able to make illico TV new generation an exceptional showcase for entertainment offerings that provides easy access to an on-demand catalog of more than 30,000 titles per year and the largest selection of French-language HD channels and movies in Canada. It also offers exclusives such as webcam feeds and interactive features, plus enriched video content adapted for different screens. Examples include programming from Lib tv, Canada's first mobile channel. illico TV new generation highlights the synergies among Videotron's platforms, which deliver content to customers on four screens (TV, computer, tablet and mobile). Videotron is the only operator that lets customers pause and resume play on a different screen or remotely program their personal video recorder (PVR)...

In a Canadian first, Videotron harnessed the expertise and talents of its own people to develop this state-of-the-art platform for Quebecers. The colossal hi-tech project was launched three years ago by an all-Quebec team of visionaries. In all, more than 500 people worked on it: programmers, marketing experts, product development specialists. They also had the benefit of being able to build on a set-top box developed by industry-leading partners such as Cisco and Samsung...The creation of illico TV new generation was made possible by the smart technological choices that Videotron has made in recent years. Videotron's powerful network is the only one that combines fiber optics, coax cable and wireless technology. The network architecture is unique in North America, delivering exceptional performance, reliability and evolutionary capacity."

Alticast describes its participation in the development of illico TV new generation as follows: "Alticast has been the primary supplier and developer of applications and the user experiences, and is the primary integrator for Videotron on this unique project. Based on Alticast's tru2way software, this innovative solution will provide Videotron subscribers with exciting applications including: digital video recorder (DVR) functionality, video-on-demand, electronic program guide, pay-per-view, caller ID, weather and the ability for the subscriber to choose their own entertainment package. The platform also provides the capability to add additional capabilities as they become available...Alticast's tru2way software solution is based on open standards and provides Videotron with the flexibility and capability to add additional set-top box manufacturers and applications from a multitude of developers." Said Alticast CEO, David Housman: "The deployment of this innovative interactive TV product was a collaborative effort of Videotron, Alticast and set-top box suppliers to bring the most advanced cable product in North America to Videotron subscribers. Along with the leadership of Videotron, we are working on additional advanced applications that will provide Videotron subscribers with an unparalleled experience."

Cisco describes its involvement in the project as follows: "Videotron will use the Cisco Explorer 8642 HD-DVR and 4642 HD set-top boxes to deliver a best-in-class enhanced entertainment experience. Available in the province of Quebec, illico TV new generation offers a new customer experience including advanced video services and faster navigation. 1) illico TV new generation subscribers can use their remotes to access interactive entertainment and information embedded in particular programs, such as music, weather, local information, voting and polling, and other services. Subscribers may also benefit from digital video recorder (DVR) functionality, video-on-demand, electronic program guide, pay-per-view, caller ID, weather, and the ability to choose tailor-made entertainment packages. 2) The Cisco 8642 HD-DVR optimizes Videotron's existing Cisco-powered cable headend infrastructure and DOCSIS network to give consumers greater access to broader video and entertainment experiences including broadcast television and video-on-demand. 3) The Cisco Explorer 4642 HD and 8642 HD-DVR set-top boxes give service providers the opportunity to: a) advance their video service plans by integrating the quality of high-definition video, digital video recording, and new service application features; b) offer consumers innovative features such as a 500-gigabyte DVR hard disc drive that supports up to 280 hours of standard-definition and up to 55 hours of high-definition programming, hybrid video service support, open standard support, multiple tuner support as well as USB 2.0 and Ethernet connectivity; c) qualified to meet Energy Star Tier 1 strict energy-efficiency guidelines, the Cisco 8642 HD-DVR requires less than 1 watt of power consumption in standby mode, and is capable of 'light sleep' mode." Said Videotron's VP of engineering, research and development, Pierre Roy: "The latest generation of Cisco Explorer set-top boxes supports the tru2way open standard allowing us to offer a tailored customer experience to a broader audience. The Cisco Explorer set-top boxes help us to differentiate our innovative service and applications while retaining our market leadership."

Samsung describes its involvement as follows: Samsung Canada is "enhancing the way Videotron customers watch TV with the launch of two new set top boxes--the Samsung HD box and the HD PVR. Both products will be available exclusively through Videotron, in support of their next-generation illico digital TV service...The advanced features of Samsung set-top boxes provide illico customers with an enhanced multimedia experience, including high-definition video and functionality to record media for over 350 digital channels and practical interactive services to its customers. Samsung set-top boxes will be available throughout Videotron's retail network."

North America