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The “Digital TV Dream” of a Vietnamese Telecom Tycoon

Introduction

As the No.1 telecom operator in Vietnam, the Viettel Group is well on to leveraging its communication service and broadband resources into a position as the country's leading digital TV operator. Viettel is also relying on solutions from Inspur to acquire hardware and software integration capabilities, which will put it on the road to success in the development of digital TV.

A Telecom Tycoon Foresees a Gold Mine in Digital TV

In the wake of rapid technological progress, digital TV technology is being developed rapidly around the world. Although the development and deployment of digital TV systems in Vietnam has lagged behind that of the developed countries, progress in development of digital TV has accelerated in recent years, and the establishment of standards and other preparatory work has laid the groundwork for widespread use. The Vietnamese government currently plans to stop broadcasting of analog TV in the five municipalities directly under the central government, including Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Can Tho, and Haiphong, and replace it with digital TV in 2015, and realize digitalization throughout all of Vietnam by 2020.

The Viettel Group, as the No.1 telecom and Internet service provider of Vietnam, operates throughout provinces and municipalities nationwide, has 60 million online users, and has participated in communication ventures in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, etc. The Viettel Group is well on to leveraging its communication service and broadband resources into a position as the country's leading digital TV operator. It has obtained a permit authorizing the provision of paid TV service issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on April 26, 2013, which will enable it to provide cable TV all over Vietnam while also providing existing IPTV service.

In 2014, Viettel Group embarked on a large-scale transformation to digital TV with the purpose of establishing a high-standard, high-performance digital platform and realizing fiber-to-the-home, which will achieve a network-wide transformation from analog signals to digital signals. It has also called for bids for a digital TV cable interactive set top box. Le Van Khuong, chief technology officer of Viettel Group, noted that, “We hope that our audiences will be satisfied, and with this principle we will ensure that the service we provide can keep pace with the industry's development trends and changes. With the coming of cable TV service, our position in Vietnam's TV market will be further enhanced, enabling us to provide even more content to our users.”

A Mad Set Top Box Plan

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that since digital TV of Vietnam is still in an embryonic stage. Based on the status quo of analog TV, unidirectional transmission, and single operators, it will difficult to accomplish a migration to digital TV in one action. Meanwhile, as Vietnam explores digitalization, many digital product providers have emerged in recent years, but there is no uniform docking standard, which presents a great challenge for the Viettel Group's implementation and expansion of the cable TV.

Therefore, in order to realize the ideal of digital TV in the near future, the Viettel Group has drafted a “mad” set top box plan.

With respect to product performance, Viettel calls the set top box terminal manufacturers to carry out platform testing and product pre-commercialization activities. As an organization with a military background, the rigorous working style of Viettel ensures that it has extremely high requirements for set top box hardware configuration and software. The Viettel Group requires that this set top box can meet the need for both high-definition reception and bidirectional coverage and can realize the hierarchical spanning from analog to digitalization and from unidirectional to bidirectional. Based on these requirements, a set top box should also achieve such functions as multi-screen interaction, TV time shifting, program recording, and intelligent EPG, and improve user stickiness at the level of terminal service.

To ensure effective positioning, the Viettel Group has appointed world-class companies such as Ericsson to establish relevant solutions from acquisition to system design, and including supply and integration of front end transmission systems. This implies that a set top product should both meet terminal configuration conditions and ensure integration with and support for existing software, which sets up great challenges for the development and delivery of set top boxes.

Overseas Treasure Hunting Facilitates a “Transnational Marriage”

To realize its "mad" set top box plan, Viettel has set its sights overseas, and hopes to rely on advanced product solutions elsewhere in the world to achieve the goal of rapid improvement and promotion. Finally, the Inspur Group has impressed Viettel with its successful overseas high-definition set top box solution. This solution can realize multi-screen service and value-added business revenue, and can bring about a “transnational marriage” between the two companies in the field of digital TV.

In consideration of the weakness of Vietnam in digital TV and the strict Digital TV roll-out requirements of the Viettel Group, Inspur recommends use of the high-performance new product STB-9832C, which is in use on a large scale in overseas markets. This product is compatible with Viettel's existing system, and can realize seamless docking with front-end platforms and system programs.

The hardware platform and excellent service capability of Inspur's set top box will enable Viettel to provide multi-screen service on digital set top box terminals without adjustment of the front end system. Different mobile terminals can achieve multi-screen receiving through the use of a single digital set top box, which will greatly reduce operating cost. Furthermore, the set top box is also integrated with full-band tuner technology, which lets it realize millisecond channel changing. This will remedy Digital TV's disadvantage of slow channel changing, improve the consumer experience, and increase the operator's soft competitiveness.

The Dream of Digital TV Comes True

With its high-definition interactive set top box solution from Inspur, Viettel can offer comprehensive cable TV operating service, which will increase its revenue and enhance end users' willingness to purchase the service. With the gradual roll-out of the set top box product, more and more cable TV users of Vietnam can enjoy the high-quality service brought by high-definition digitalization.

Viettel is further developing two-way interactive services through the powerful set top box platform, while ensuring that cable users in Vietnam can enjoy such basic services as TV programs, video on demand, time shifting, and recording. Two-way interactive services have taken a leading role in family informationization, which will ensure Viettel's value-adding and revenue generation.

By enriching its product supply sources, Viettel has ensured its position in a fiercely competitive market, and prevent it from being forced into the passive status of “being kidnapped” by a single-service brand. During digital TV development process, Viettel is first directing its efforts toward promotion of the use of cable high-definition set top box programs, which maintain strong competitiveness compared with digital programs available through ground broadcasting and satellite set top boxes, which should ensure Viettel's leading role in the market.

With support from high-performance products and Inspur's solution, and the popularization of broadband in Vietnam, Viettel will face a new round of increase in the number of digital TV users, which will helps Viettel to target customer groups and become the No.1 digital TV operator in Vietnam.

Looking ahead to the future, the Viettel Group has drafted a development plan calling for an increase in overall performance by 20% in 2015. With respect to the field of digital TV, Viettel will promote full Digital TV coverage in Vietnam by 2020 relying on its advantages of broadband resources and fiber-to-the-home. However, Viettel also knows that consumers’ acceptance level for new content and new TV service is unprecedented, and it will bear a heavy load if it wishes to become the real leader in Vietnam's digital TV industry in the face of opportunism and challenges. The Viettel Group therefore hopes that continuous introduction of mature product solutions will lead to success in the development of digital TV.

Case Overview

Customer Background

Viettel Group is the No.1 telecom operator in Vietnam, with telecom business covering multiple provinces and municipalities of Vietnam, and it has a large number of users. In 2014, Viettel embarked on a digital TV set top box transformation with the purpose of establishing a high-standard, high-performance digital platform and realizing fiber-to-the-home, which will achieve a network-wide transformation from analog signals to digital signals. It has also called for bids for a digital TV cable interactive set top box.

Challenges

Digital TV of Vietnam is still in an embryonic stage, and network infrastructure is poorly developed. There are many digital product providers, but no uniform docking standard, which presents a great challenge for the Viettel Group's implementation and expansion of the cable TV.

Such a large-scale project imposes extremely high requirements on the set top box's hardware configuration and software. The Viettel Group therefore requires that this set top box should realize such functions as multi-screen interaction, TV time shifting, program recording, and intelligent EPG based on meeting high-definition reception and bidirectional coverage.

To ensure the deployment of middleware and receiving systems, Viettel Group has appointed world-class companies such as Ericsson to complete software program integration and also meet the configuration requirements of the set top box. This will make the development and deployment of the set top box product a great challenge.

Solutions

Inspur, as the supplier of the Smart DVB solution, has chosen the high-performance new product STB-9832C for the Viettel Group. This product meets the Viettel Group's requirements for hardware configuration and software expandability with its software and hardware integration capability and latest chip technology.

With respect to the hardware platform, the Inspur STB-9832C high-definition interactive digital set top box employs a powerful high-definition dual-core decoding chip, supports brand-new full-band capture technology, and also supports three-way demodulation, high-definition images, and fast channel switching. It is an omnimedia TV service platform incorporating “integration of three networks” and “multi-screen interaction.” With regard to software, Inspur's elite technical team has developed the necessary software in accordance with technical requirements.

Customer Value

1. Deployment of the powerful set top box platform will establish a foundation for the expansion of other future value-added services.

2. With respect to technology, implementation, and establishment of after-sale service teams, Inspur will assist the Viettel Group in implementing the project and settling the worries of users.

3. The plan will expand the Viettel Group's sources of products, and ensure its position in this fiercely competitive market.

4. The introduction of high-performance products and solutions will help the Viettel Group to lock on to customer groups and become the No.1 digital TV operator in Vietnam.


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