A new Innovative Systems set-top-box is now in market trials and should be available by the end of 2017. The set-top-box currently works exclusively with Innovative Systems’ IPTV middleware platform, an Innovative Systems (IS) spokesperson confirmed with Telecompetitor.

The new STB features 802.11ac WiFi connectivity, giving operators the ability to wirelessly connect three STBs throughout a home to a base STB acting as a WiFi access point. IS says the key feature for this new STB platform is the managed WiFi function that carves out a 5 GHz WiFi channel exclusive to video.

The IS 5112W STB is built on the open source Reference Design Kit (RDK), which provides a common framework for powering customer premises equipment. This reference design should allow other applications to be written to the STB and one day it could conceivably  work with other middleware platforms beyond Innovative Systems.’

IS tells Telecompetitor that the STB platform will be price competitive with other STBs on the market, but says its differentiation lies in the native WiFi capability. That capability aims to lower installation costs, as well as operational and troubleshooting costs going forward.

IS will continue to support other STB platforms from ADB and Amino, which work with their IPTV middleware.

It may be viewed as somewhat counter intuitive by some to launch a new STB in today’s environment. There are views that favor moving more towards the app based model, where customers bring their own device, rather than investing in a new STB platform.

But IS has always been comfortable with carving out their own path. Some may have argued that their launch of IPTV middleware many years ago was counter intuitive, given the market share enjoyed by other much larger competitors.

Yet they appear to be more than holding their own, due in part to their laser focus on the tier 3 video service provider market. IS has carved out a solid niche serving rural telcos, municipals, and cable operators, a niche that is difficult for their IPTV competitors to serve. The spokesperson tells me the launch of this STB platform is in direct response to concerns from their customers regarding STBs.

“Our entry into the STB marketplace is generated by customer demand for additional options and increased reliability in Wi-Fi deployments, and it is based upon the Reference Design Kit (RDK) model made popular by vendors and service providers globally,” said Innovative Systems CEO Roger Musick in a press release.