Pace set to launch Viasat's next-generation Hybrid HD PVR

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 
Pace plc logo

Dual functionality set-top box to provide enhanced TV experience, more content options and increased control for end-users

SALTAIRE, West Yorkshire, UK — Modern Times Group’s Viasat Broadcasting (OMX: MTGA, MTGB), the largest free-and pay-TV operator in Scandinavia and the Baltic States, has once again chosen long-term set-top box partner Pace plc (LSE:PIC) to launch a second generation high definition (HD) personal video recorder (PVR) with built-in hybrid functionality. As well as helping to boost the operator’s set-top box portfolio across its territories, deployment of Pace’s TDS855NV hybrid HD PVR will give Viasat greater ability to offer advanced services to its customers and to provide them with a superior viewing and content management experience. The hybrid functionality of the set-top box will provide users with access to a broader universe of programming, allowing them to receive content in a variety of different ways and giving them increased control over their TV service.

Pace plc is a long-term technology provider to Viasat having previously supplied the operator’s first HD PVR in January 2008, and remains Viasat’s provider of PVRs to date. The new TDS855NV 320GB HD PVR replaces the existing TDS850NV 250GB HD PVR and allows up to an additional 40 hours of content to be stored, yet has a smaller and more compact design. Supporting both MPEG-2 and H.264 content, the TDS855NV HD PVR allows users to record up to 80 hours of HD or 160 hours of standard definition content and with dual DVB-S2 tuners, allows the user to record and watch content in a combination of different ways to maximise the time they spend viewing television.

As a hybrid box, the TDS855NV comes equipped with an ethernet connector which allows IP content to be delivered over low-bandwidth connections using NDS Group’s Progressive Delivery (PDL) technology. NDS PDL technology delivers uninterrupted viewing by removing the buffering problems associated with slow broadband download speeds. This feature supports Viasat’s continued rollout of its ViasatOnDemand HD service but will also allow end-users to watch a much wider selection of movies, TV series on demand or catch-up content through their broadband internet connection. It uses the available bandwidth to deliver content to the PVR’s hard drive; once enough content is cached, then the viewer can start playback without interruption, and any remaining content is background delivered..

Martin Lewerth, Chief Technical Officer of Modern Times Group MTG AB said: “The deployment of this Hybrid HD PVR is a great way for us to overcome the limitations associated with the unidirectional nature of satellite delivery. The IP-based functionality in this PVR delivers content over an ‘always-on’ connection which means we can offer not only the highest levels of HD functionality to our viewers, but also a content management experience that is entirely owned by them. In today’s market, this level of control is becoming a pre-requisite and we are taking action to meet this need with a robust, proven technology solution from a long-standing partner at the forefront of hybrid design and technology. We believe that this Pace box will significantly raise the standard for control over the whole TV experience and for HDTV functionality everywhere.”

The TDS855NV incorporates NDS VideoGuard® conditional access (CA), MediaHighway® middleware, XTV™ DVR technology, and a customised electronic programme guide (EPG). It has an external power supply unit to reduce box size and its distinctive look has been created by the Pace Industrial Design team to reflect today’s trends in consumer electronics equipment and home interiors to give an all-round high quality experience.

“Viasat’s second generation HD PVR is one of the world’s few true hybrid services and incorporates all of the technology strengths that characterise Pace’s individual, made-to-measure approach to set-top box build and design,” said Andrew Ward, Vice President of Sales, Pace. “The result is a world-class product that focuses on the particular needs of Viasat’s customers, offering them new levels of flexibility in exercising control over their TV screens. As user expectations around HD content grow we will continue to lead in providing new solutions that help to drive the pay-TV business into the future.”