The Continuously Evolving Video Platform

Two decades ago, the conventional wisdom was that the triple play of voice, video, and data was an effective way to provide value to customers and reduce churn for operators. In the intervening years, over-the-top providers have emerged and pecked away at a service providers’ advantages in offering voice and video services.

In the above interview, we learn how one Wisconsin-based operator and an associated headend/programming transport consortium are countering the trend with their own streaming video offering. This offering eliminates the set-top by using consumer streaming devices, such as those provided by Roku, Amazon, and Apple. Although their new service is starting as an in-home alternative to traditional IPTV for Lynxx Networks, it sets the stage for expansion beyond the home and, potentially, beyond Lynxx’s all-fiber-to-the-home network.

MVS’s Executive Director, Marty Snustead, talks about the advantages they provide smaller operators by being able to provide headend services, eliminating the need for specialized personnel for a relatively low-margin service. Serving multiple states, as well as military bases in Japan and South Korea, Snustead talks about the recent Innovative Systems announcement that will allow MVS to provide hosted services, similar to MobiTV’s offering (MobiTV entered voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in March).

Interview Highlights (Click on Timecode to open the YouTube window at that point in the interview).

01:05 – Marty Snustead provides an overview of MVS, its services, and its geographic reach. He also discusses their recent headend upgrade which includes adaptive bit rate encoders that enable the streaming service.

03:19 – Snustead explains how, due to content licensing restrictions, they use geo-fencing to limit the streams to only the homes served by Lynxx Networks.

05:33 – Jim Costello describes the rural Wisconsin area they serve, which includes residential customers in Camp Douglas to business customers along the (I-90 corridor from Mauston to Lacrosse, Wisconsin. He declares that “This is an exciting time to be in this industry.”

07:16 – Institutions, such as banks, businesses, and health care facilities provide anchor institutions that help Lynxx expand its fiber network.

10:39 – MVS’s shareholders are some of its early customers and no outside capital was needed.

13:49 – Snustead addresses the question of why adaptive bit rate? He explains that a traditional set-top from Innovative Systems can be used for the main television, while customer-supplied streaming device.

15:37 – Snustead says, “They [Innovative Systems] are working with us to develop a hosted streaming solution that companies could meet us at one of our main pop areas. Or, maybe will develop out some more and they can connect to a centralized hosted middleware for streaming solutions, such as what the Mobi TV play is. And so, they wouldn’t have to buy all the equipment on the edge. Will be working with them on some solutions such as that. We’re at the final stages getting close and, hopefully, we will be announcing that pretty soon.”

17:12 – WiFi is a game-changer in terms of being able to distribute video within the home, according to Costello. Lynxx Networks offers a managed WiFi offering, which is part of its strategy to offer a better customer experience. Costello points out that one of their advantages over vMVPDs (virtual Multichannel Video Program Distributors) is that Lynxx Networks provides superior customer support.

21:28 Costello discusses how the streaming and IPTV services coexist. He points out the significant reduction in cost by eliminating set-tops; cost savings that are passed onto the customer. Additionally, the reduction in truck roles from maintaining set-tops is significant as well.

23:08 Relationships with CNS and NCTC are critical in obtaining programming rights, as Costello says those organizations give his company a voice that it wouldn’t otherwise have.

25:56 – Lnyxx Networks is 100% fiber to the home, which has opened up remote work from home opportunities for people from larger cities.

28:23 – Snustead said that some of their ISP customers had no intention of offering video services, but found the demand from their respective customer bases.

30:46 Jim demonstrates a carbon fiber guitar produced by one of his customers, McPherson Guitars, out of Sparta, Wisconsin.

35:41 – Costello explains how the relationship between Lynxx Networks and its customers is different than what it is between large companies and their customers.

38:18 – Marty ends the conversation on an excellent note.

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