Leading Balkan TV and broadband provider Serbian Broadband integrates WISI Platform in 24 regional headends
Innovation has a name in the Balkans TV market: Serbia Broadband (SBB). The most progressive Serbian media company over the last ten years has developed from its headquarters in Belgrade a wide range of multimedia services. Behind SBB stands the strong United Group (revenue 2012: EUR 180 million). Its origins date back to 2007, when Mid Europa Partners acquired SBB. This was followed by the acquisition of Telemach Slovenia, and in short succession, the buy and build strategy that created Telemach Bosnia. With unmatched reach via cable and DTH across the region, the Group’s companies have established a reputation for providing the most attractive content in their respective markets, available across all devices and formats. The Group’s high quality programming is combined with attractive bundling offers, all supported by innovative and reliable technology. The Group’s companies also offer data and voice services to small, medium and large companies across the region. Today it has 1,500 employees, operates a fibre network of 10,500 kilometers, has 1,2 million cable homes passed and 1,65 million RGUs.
Leading provider via Cable, IP nets and satellite
Today SBB is the largest provider of digital and analogue cable television with a market share of 50% and more than 700,000 subscribing homes in Serbia. It also operates with Total TV via Eu-telsat’s orbital position 16 degrees East the leading DTH platform for satellite television with more than one million Pay-TV homes in Serbia and surrounding markets Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia, although it is not named in Croatia Total TV. Another core business is broadband Internet. The company started to offer Internet access via cable in 2002 with a 128 kbps service. Currently, it provides the fastest high-speed service in the cable market with download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 4 Mbps. Since last year the company also is providing fixed line services as well.
Investment in WISI’s Chameleon headend system
SBB is permanently investing in its cable infrastructure. In 2012 and 2013 SBB equipped 24 regional CATV headends with the WISI Chameleon platform. Over 400 modules were deployed in the process, serving fully flexible combinations of PAL and QAM channels to the respective cities. The TV content is provided by IP feed and backed up by local antenna systems.
Srdjan Durdjevic, Director Research & Development at SBB, discusses with Cable!Vision Europe International, the plans for distributing IP with WISI solutions
Cable!Vision Europe: How many TV channels are you offering in analogue and in digital ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: SBB’s offer consists of 66 channels in analogue and 172 in digital including 26 HD channels. Our satellite platform Total TV offers 191 channels, including 76 free to air.
Cable!Vision Europe: Why do you still provide an analogue offer in Serbia ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: A lot of our subscribers still use our analogue offer. However, thanks to the benefits which digital TV provides, more and more people are taking some of our D3 packages. We are going in direction of complete digitalization, but still want to educate the public first about all benefits of better digital TV services and functionalities.
Cable!Vision Europe: Are you combining your cable TV offers with triple play services ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: Yes, we offer our customers all three services, digital TV, Internet and lend line.
Cable!Vision Europe: What is the infrastructure SBB is operating in Serbia to supply cable homes ? Is it a mixture of coax and IP net infrastructures ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: It is a standard cable HFC infrastructure that is used to deliver residential Analog, DVB-C broadcast, DVB-C unicast and EuroDOCSIS 2.0 / 3.0 cable services
Cable!Vision Europe: What role play FTTx infrastructures for SBB and where do you operate this type of infrastructures ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: Last year we implemented a FTTB trial using WISI’s micro LR82. We also implemented FTTB on existing HFC network replacing coaxial lines with fiber and actually a Fiber To The Last Amplifier topology. By this, we are covering 10,000 Homes connected with new Fiber Power service.
Cable!Vision Europe: What have you invested over the last ten years in your cable and IP infrastructure ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: SBB started in 2002 with a greenfield construction and acquisitions of other smaller cable operators, which are all integrated today in our SBB system. From the beginning we followed a conception of implementing Deep Fiber HFC.
Cable!Vision Europe: How many regional clusters do you operate in Serbia ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: Currently we are present in 27 major Serbian cities. We operate more than 60 POP locations: Head Ends, HUBs and Local Head Ends with 2000 optical nodes
Cable!Vision Europe: You have equipped 24 regional headends with the Chameleon system. Are these headends concentrated in some major cities or are they spread across Serbia ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: Currently we are in the process of installation. Headends are placed in major cities, but those cities are located in all parts of Serbia.
Cable!Vision Europe: Why did you opt for WISI’s Chameleon system ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: WISI’s Chameleon system provides us with flexibility and variety of different input signals. It is easy to use and configure.
Cable!Vision Europe: How does Chameleon fit in your overall cable/IP net infrastructure conception ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: We mostly use Chameleons as headends for analogue cable TV. Since we have our headends connected to an IP/MPLS network, those Chameleons are deployed as IP to PAL converters.
Cable!Vision Europe: How do you use the flexibility Chameleon is offering in feeding in new channel offers ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: The main function of Chameleons in our headends is conversion of IP to PAL. But the existence of other signal inputs (DVB-S, DVB-T2), give us the possibility to create strong backup scenarios, In a few years, analogue TV will be terminated and reallocation of Chameleons usage is another benefit for us.
Cable!Vision Europe: What has been the most significant challenge while implementing Chameleon ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: We haven’t faced any major challenges with implementing Chameleon.
Cable!Vision Europe: Is the investment in the Chameleon systems part of a larger upgrade of your headends and network infrastructures ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: SBB is constantly upgrading its network infrastructure and capacities. On the HFC side we have CMTS upgrade to meet the rise of customer traffic. We are also segmenting existing optical nodes.
Cable!Vision Europe: Are you happy with Chameleon or have there been there technical issues while in operation ?
Srdjan Durdjevic: We are satisfied with Chameleon, both with technical capacities and operational functions.
WISI granted for Chameleon
Chameleon is a new software based headend concept for all future-oriented applications.
As the name suggests, the headend can adapt to its environment in that the individual modules are able to alter their functions according to the demand. Its modular design allows Chameleon to meet the requirements of all uses from single unit stand-alone devices in SMATV applications up to complex headend units in large CATV networks. All module functions can be activated and configured via software license keys. This concept offers the operator a high security for his investment in the long term. Chameleon’s software features include DVB tuners for different outputs, transmodulators, Edge-QAM, MPEG-4 Decoder, IP- and ASI streamer as well as re-multiplexer.
The Chameleon system recently has been granted by the Society for Broadband Professionals (SCTE) in London with the international prestigious SCTE Award 2013 for Technical Innovation in the category “Best digital processing solution”.
This future-proof system has been extended by a number of new software features that will be shown at ANGA COM 2013 for the first time. Chameleon now has an integrated DVB simulcrypt scrambler that can be activated by a software key. This will protect DVB content easier. In this way, the encryption system can be connected via IP or ASI interface. Operation of an external scrambler is no longer necessary. Additional features are new timer and trigger based functions for time sharing, flexible redundancies and the integrated extraction of NITs in cable networks.