The “Smart” wind is strong in the Internet TV (IPTV) industry. Just a few months after the smart settop box was first introduced in the market, consumers are likely to watch IPTV with no set-top box attached.
LG Uplus has recently completed the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA)’s test to obtain approval for settop box software. This approval process, established by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) early this year, is a kind of technical certification system aiming to replace the settop box hardware with new kinds of software. LG U+ is expected to begin IPTV services in a form of smart TV applications as early as next month. Then, subscribers of LG U+ IPTV will be able to see IPTV by downloading an application from the smart TV application market. A source from LG U+ said, “Subscribers can save rental cost for set-top box and there will no extra charges.”
SK Broadband also plans to launch no-settop box IPTV. A source from the company said, “Our new IPTV has a settop box inside the TV set. We will launch it in alliance with the smart TV manufacturer during the first half of this year.”
Along with the innovation of IPTVs, remote controllers are making evolution, too. Upon launching the Olleh TV Smart Pack, KT introduced the “Olleh TV Guide App” which makes smart phones and smart pads replace the existing remote controllers. With this App downloaded, your smartphone functions just like a remote controller that includes the power on/off key, the channel and volume controllers and the VOD searcher. Moreover, you can connect the wireless mouse and keyboard to the settop box, and use your smart IPTV just like a PC.
LG U+ added the mouse and keyboard functions to the remote controller. Using the QWERTY keyboard attached to the lower part of the remote controller, you can input letters just like a PC keyboard. This remote controller has a sensor that recognizes the upward and downward directions. So, when you don’t use the remote controller, its keyboard does not respond to your touch. It is also equipped with a touch pad, so that you can click the screen just like a mouse. The company explained, “We will support the voice recognition function from March. Then, you will be able to change the channel, even when you don’t know the exact number of the channel you want, just by speaking it.
SK Broadband’s smart settop box and no-settop box IPTVs, both of which are to be launched within this year, will provide the keyboard and mouse functions through the user’s smartphone.
In the meantime, the nation’s three major IPTV suppliers are now providing the smart IPTV services using the smart settop box and cloud technology. KT released in January this year the Olleh TV Smart Pack that provides an exchange with new smart settop box at additional 1,000 won per month. LG U+ has been providing the “U+TV G” mounted with Google TV 2.1 at 9,900 won per month since October last year. SK Broadband has begun trial operation of the “B tv Cloud Streaming” service that makes it possible to enjoy various kinds of app contents using the existing settop box. SK Broadband said, “You don’t have to change the existing settop box to a new smart settop box. You just can enjoy smart TV functions using the general settop box.”