Vodafone Iceland is a publicly-listed telecommunications provider that is licensed to operate under the Vodafone brand, without being the property of Vodafone Group. It offers mobile, fixed line and broadband services to businesses and consumers. It operates one of only two IPTV services in Iceland and owns the only nationwide DVB-T/T2 television and radio distribution system, broadcasting HD TV to reach 99.9% of the population.
Vodafone Iceland selected a solution from Nordija, now part of 24i, in September 2016 as it planned a next-generation TV offering that now combines IPTV and OTT to bring maximum choice and value to subscribers.
A balancing act between control and simplicity
“The consumer market here is very demanding so we have to be in the forefront to remain competitive,” says Þorsteinn Gunnlaugsson, Vodafone Iceland’s Manager of TV Services. “This takes constant work and our strategy is to be always developing and gradually introducing new things ahead of the market.”
Gunnlaugsson goes on to explain that its choice of 24i’s platform was driven by Vodafone Iceland’s desire to remain in control of their own destiny. “Our needs are not always in sync with what’s offered by the vendors in the market. The platform we have from 24i allows us to add features at our own pace and has the flexibility to let us constantly evolve our look-and-feel. We have our own design and front-end development team, but we use the 24i backend and their integrations towards third parties and then we build our own service, our own look-and-feel, on top of the 24i widgets.”
The fast-track to flexibility with ready-made third-party integrations
The middleware platform (now part of 24i Mod Studio following the acquisition of Nordija by 24i in 2021) was pre-integrated with a range of third-party providers needed to support Vodafone Iceland’s needs. These included CDN and advertising capabilities and support for a range of set-top box (STB) manufacturers, including 24i’s sister company Amino. Vodafone Iceland’s specific choice of Conditional Access and Multi-DRM provider was also added to the ecosystem at their request.
All of this has reduced in-house effort, costs and time-scales: “It’s so much easier than building our own middleware and integrating it with third parties ourselves,” confirms Gunnlaugsson.
“24i’s platform has simplified our in-house work and helped us keep our focus on creating new services for our very demanding consumer market.”
Some examples of features that Vodafone Iceland have brought to the market based on the 24i platform include downloads to mobile devices for offline viewing, and Electronic Sell through (EST) which is sometimes called “Download to Own”. This option allows consumers to buy a permanent entitlement to certain content rather than watching it on a SVOD or TVOD basis - rather like owning a DVD but without the physical disc and with instant access over the internet.
Retro-fitting STBs with Amino software to support content aggregation
Vodafone Iceland has also had a long-term relationship with 24i’s sister company Amino. Recently, 24i has provided integration support to a project that is swapping-out the existing operating system on Vodafone Iceland’s population of Samsung STBs and replacing it with AminoOS, with service management from Amino Engage.
This project has enabled the in-field boxes to support OTT content delivery alongside the existing IPTV service. As well as giving consumers immediate access to attractive new OTT content and services, the upgrade will allow Vodafone Iceland to adopt a content-aggregator role in the future, introducing third-party OTT services to the STBs alongside their own packages.
The importance of a good working relationship
For Vodafone Iceland, working with 24i has always been more than just a purchase of technology. “The team are very good listeners,” explains Gunnlaugsson. “We have a good working relationship and they have always been open and honest about the possibilities, pros and cons of every new idea we have come up with. Their mindset fits very well with how we want to do things.”