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one very good reason: The after sales support is outstanding - and it’s worldwide. For Starfish, and our customers, that’s huge. It means we can offer our products globally knowing that our customers can always get very good local hardware support. Software based solutions are a great leveller. Whereas customers used to be influenced when making purchasing decisions based on a supplier’s ability to provide global support, that differentiator has totally evaporated in a software world because the IT hardware support industry is vast, global, and highly experienced, which takes all the pressure off those who previously had to purchase or contract such support services. Super critical to all of this, though, is that we also establish a support contract on our customer’s behalf by an office local to them. This adds another layer of comfort for those who may still have concerns about building and maintaining ad insertion and regional TV systems in remote or unmanned locations. If we are supplying the IT hardware, we like to have the opportunity to pre- configure our software to each customer’s exact specifications, and it saves the customer - in an ever-uncertain economic climate - from having to raise multiple POs and organise multiple approvals of those POs. We configure everything, ship it, organise local support, and only one PO has to be raised. That can make things significantly easier for procurement, and budgeting departments, too. Because our technology runs on a software-based architecture, we’re not stuck with a rigid set of specifications, which means we can configure our product very flexibly. That in turn makes its integration into an existing system - or systems - far less complex. By contrast, larger suppliers tend of offer “a product” that requires the local system to be configured, or built, around their specification it. In short, there is inherently less flexibility, but what we offer is just the opposite. A perfect example of this is the technology we’ve developed for clean transport stream switching and content replacement, TS Switch. Everyone at the delivery end works with compressed video signals, and switching compressed video is very much more complex than working with uncompressed video. TS Switch’s ability to cleanly and transparently switch compressed video streams is critical. In the past, doing this with compressed video was very difficult, and artefacts were almost unavoidable. What we offer as a technology provider is the ability to switch compressed video in a way that is transparent. Artefacts need not apply. Now that the technical issues with IP- based infrastructure and delivery of OTT content are all but resolved, and now that customers have tried and tested technical solutions, they have become far more confident to build and deploy systems that can readily reap all the benefits that I’ve outlined above. The IP and OTT movement has been bubbling to the surface for a number of years, but it has finally come to a boil and, like the advent of the steam engine, it will usher in a whole new era of technical, commercial, and - if handled properly - prosperity in broadcasting. Moreover, IP and OTT will never require the big iron, rigid tracks, or grimy soot so often associated with broadcast engine rooms of yore. You can now have your OTT and IP it, too. KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 120 December 2016 | 55