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Viaccess CEO Confident It Can Compete With Industry Heavyweights

By | October 11, 2007

      The Conditional Access (CA) market has been dominated by industry heavyweights NDS and the Kudelski Group, as both companies have beefed up their offerings in recent years and now offer range of middleware (interactive) and security services. For players such as Viaccess, the question is whether they can continue to compete effectively in such a crowded market. Viaccess CEO, François Moreau de Saint Martin, who was appointed in June of this year, told Satellite News that the company does not need to have a middleware component to compete against some of the other players. He said, “We are not looking to buy a middleware company. We don’t think we are at a disadvantage as a result of not having our own middleware. Viaccess enjoys strong relationships with set-top box providers and offers a wide range of terminals.”

      The company is owned by one of the largest global telcos, France Telecom (FT), and de Saint Martin believes the company benefits significantly from having it as its main shareholder and as a customer. He said, “FT is a very challenging customer. They want a high level of features and quality of service. It has enabled us to bring a very good quality of product to the market. They are a key customer for us. It is a competitive advantage to have FT as a customer and as a shareholder. From a technology perspective, we are able to benefit from the work going in FT laboratories where there is a lot of innovation and a lot of work going on with new technologies.”

      Its technological efforts are focusing on providing customers with strong security across different platforms. de Saint Martin said, “We have a solution that addresses pay-TV on a PC. Operators want to offer pay-TV via different platforms. We are doing a lot of in the area of home networking. We are looking for innovative solutions to bridge broadcast and broadband worlds. We are confident we will be able to develop our business in that direction. We are working a lot with our customers on these convergence questions. Content service providers want to offer a wide range of contents over different devices. We have to provide technology, which enables operators to offer premium content over a wide range of devices.”

      Satellite Market

      The company has a number of satellite customers and de Saint Martin sees good prospects for the company in this market. He said, “There are many projects involving satellite technology. I think we have a very good value proposition for satellite customers. A new satellite operator will particularly consider our wide range of set-top boxes as a key advantage for fast and reliable deployments. We think we are always competitive in terms of price. We have many satellite customers all over the world, from France to Vietnam and China, and from Russia to Middle East.”

      The company also hopes to derive strong business from new markets. In terms of deriving revenues from outside of Europe, de Saint Martin admitted the company was focusing more on Asia. He said,
      "Viaccess is not known well enough in some markets. We are focusing on increasing our exposure in some areas. Asia is a particular target for the company. We are in a phase where our business is growing particularly fast in places such as Asia, Middle East and Africa. There has been an obvious step-up in activities in Asia.”


      However, despite the potential in new markets, the company is still perhaps at its strongest in France. Undoubtedly, its most significant contract this year was in May, when it signed a deal with Canal+, which launched free access via satellite to the 18 Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) channels in June. Canal+ is using the latest generation of Viaccess technology to secure the French TNTSat offer. In terms of the DTT market in France, de Saint Martin commented, “DTT in France is getting tremendous attention: More than 11 million households receive DTT. As channels advertising revenues have more than doubled in 12 months, channels are now able to invest more in content. “DTT per satellite", aka TNTSat, is supporting this growth by extending territory coverage and enables the analog switch-off. Once again, our set-top box range and security track record have proven key factors in being selected for this challenging market.”

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