Mercado: ‘At first, there will be a coexistence between copper and fiber technologies, but the pandemic accelerated the migration process’

The panel that opened on the second day of Nextv Series South America was titled ‘New OTT TV models for ISPs and telco cooperatives’. The key topics that were discussed focused on OTT or IPTV / Android TV alternatives; opportunity associative OTT linear and VOD services; new app TV aggregation models; and others.

The panel of industry experts gathered by Dataxis for the discussion included Miguel Factor, COO at Colsecor; Juan Carlos Benitez, Technology Manager at Copaco; Mariano Mercado, CTO at Cooperativa Mariano Acosta; Ariel Fernandez Alvarado, President at Catel; and Jose Alcacer Mackinlay, Sales Director, Americas at Nagra.

When evaluating IPTV deployments and trials that companies have developed and what lessons they leave for the future in TV services, Benitez reported that ‘we have been developing all this for 10 years and the experience is very good for us. We were the first company in Paraguay to have interactive digital TV. We believe that we still have a very favorable market to exploit IPTV for several more years, so it was a more than good experience for us’, he reported.

In relation to the decline of the DSL and the current boom of the GPON and his vision on future models of telcos, Fernandez Alvarado explained that ‘IPTV was a paradigm shift for cooperatives, because it was what made us see that we had to integrate ourselves. Based on the need to try technology with IPTV, that challenged us to generate joint strategies and we had to leave individual strategies. With regard to fiber optic and 5G, I think they go hand in hand. It is impossible to think of a 5G network without a large fiber optic network. Therefore, clearly 5G needs a lot of fiber, and, there, telcos will be relevant players. The great problem with DSL, which has no solution, is that the technology did not evolve further. Without symmetry in connectivity, there is no interactive access, and a regulator is needed to push the deployment of fiber in places where it is more complex’, the executive reported. Similarly, Mercado reported that ‘no operator is thinking of maintaining copper cable in the future. Today, they are directly investing in fiber. The deployment costs of a fiber network are today lower than or similar to a fiber network. At first, there will be a coexistence between copper and fiber networks, but this process of migration to fiber, which we thought would take a few more years, was accelerated as a result of the pandemic’, reported the executive.

‘We are seeing that, due to the pandemic, migration to OTT was greatly accelerated. There is a very interesting model for medium-sized operators, which is the Android TV over fiber model. We have received initiatives from several medium-sized operators regarding Android TV, but nothing has ever been implemented, mainly because it requires agreements with SVOD premium content providers, and, at the same time, agreements with Google, the commitment to deliver user information and other issues. But, due to the bandwidth acceleration, we have designed a solution for medium-sized operators that allows them to access the Android TV solution. For that, we are launching a solution based on a traditional  Android TV STBs, already certified to work with premium SVOD operators, to which we add a USB dongle, which makes it easier, in a simple way, without the need for certifications, the possibility of offering the customer access to live TV and OTT content, all in the same app that is automatically installed from the Google Store, with the same remote control that is used in the Android TV box’, Alcacer reported.

According to Factor, ‘one thing is IPTV and another is OTT. We always mention ‘IPTV’ when we have the network controlled and we can include quality service. Today, TVs with Android TV are having a good user experience again. The important thing is the quality service, so as not to lose that experience’. In addition, he reported that ‘from Colsecor, we aim to add the local TV network into the platform, so that it can be watched on TVs and mobile devices, with the different catch-up TV formats and the option of having VOD. We are in the process of adding 25 local channels, and we have just run an agreement to produce three local channels in partnership with other production companies’.

In relation to the D2C services war by the large TV groups, Alcacer said that he analyzes it ‘as a great opportunity for operators to regain relevance. The OTT market has grown a lot and the premium SVODs have appeared more and more. Some of them will die and others will remain, but the way to survive will be based on taking advantage of the presence of local operators -the relationship with clients, collection in local currency- and being more flexible; offer the possibility of delivering their content in sub-packages, and so on. This flexibility will be an opportunity for the local operator to regain relevance, due to these capabilities that large OTTs do not have’.