5 Key things to consider with broadcast EPG (Electronic programming guide)

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As competition on viewers time increase and digitalization takes over traditional news papers and their TV Listing -sections, broadcasted EPGs have become even more critical to both broadcasters and operators. This blog tries to explain the basics on how EPGs work in DVB networks and what you as a content owner should take into account to achieve a better TV experience.

1) Ensure the source for your EPG data

Well, the EPG source management varies substantially depending whether you are a broadcaster or an operator, so let’s investigate both cases.

For Operators the situation is bit more complex as they need to provide EPG data for all their channels, up-to hundreds most likely. The most common approach for them is to rely on a 3rd parties to supply and enrich the EPG data.

Companies like Gracenote, Babeleye, Simply.tv, and others offer EPG data as  service. Many of these companies can also provide editorials, images, and videos for your programming. This additional and valuable data can be utilised the best with an enhanced EPG

Alternatively operators can have one-to-one agreements with the broadcasters or extract the EPG data from contribution signals or directly from other networks, such as satellite.

For broadcasters the situation is naturally quite a lot simpler. They have the data in their systems already, the question is how to get it out in correct format . This part I leave to you to figure out…

Regarding the EPG formats, unfortunately there isn’t a standard defined to ingest EPG data to EPG generator servers, there are some more popular formats though. We tend to recommend XMLTV or TV-Anytime as they offer a good support on systems that are used to edit/manage EPG and the EPG generators like Icareus Playout.

2) EPG content must be accurate

This is quite a “naturally” -case, and it can be divided into two bits. 

Firstly, information like start time must be correct and title and description must be short but precise. Secondly, EPG data need to be updated, if any changes take place. 

The latter sounds easy, but too often the EPG updates are not going through the network operator fast enough. The update frequency or hot-updates has to be agreed between the broadcaster and operator. There may also be a 3rd party involved that manages the EPG data, as described above, for the operator. This may complicate a task that sounds trivial from the start.

So will you update it when it changes, every 3 minutes or once per day, it all depends on how you build your workflow.

3) DVB defines the EPG format

DVB standards lay down the structure of EPG data you can provide.

The standard is based on two tables in which the data has to be distributed:

  1. EIT P/F (Present / Future)
  2. EIT Schedule tables.

EIT P/F (=present/following) is a smaller and more dynamic table that contains only the running program’s and the next program’s information from your EPG data. It may also be triggered via broadcast to update the present event, convenient for sports events for instance.

EIT Schedule table is the table that contains all your EPG data that is on-air. The table supports the following fields, which I consider the most important ones.

NameDesciption Comments 
General event data
start_timeThis field contains the start time of the event Mandatory
durationThis field contains the duration of the event in hours, minutes, seconds Mandatory
content_typeThis field defines content identifierContent type codesMandatory
image_iconThe image icon carries inline icon data or a URL that identifies the location of an icon file. Optional
running_statusThis field indicates the status of the event
Field value is defined automatically. Possible values are:
  • 0 – undefined
  • 1 – not running
  • 2 – starts in a few seconds
  • 4 – running
free_CA_modeThis field, when set to ‘0’ indicates that all the component streams of the event are not scrambled. 
When set to ‘1’ it indicates that access to one or more streams is controlled by a CA system.
Event titles description It is possible to define titles for one or more different languages. 
language_codeThis field identifies the language of the following text fieldsLanguage codesMandatory
nameThis field contains the name of the event Mandatory
short-descriptionThis field contains the short description of the event Mandatory
long-descriptionThis field contains the long description of the event Mandatory
Parental control It is possible to define parental control values for zero or more different countries.Optional
country_codeThis field identifies a country for parental controlCountry codes 
ratingThis field is coded based on the recommended minimum age in years of the end userValues:
0x00 – undefined
0x01 to 0x0F – minimum age = rating + 3 years
0x10 to 0xFF – defined by the broadcaster
Notification message This field allows broadcasters to provide receivers with a textual message 
which the receiver may display to the user at appropriate times.
country_codeThis field contains the ISO 639-2 three character language code of the language of the textual message.Country codes 
This is a field containing a string of characters specifying the text to be displayed.
Content identifier
Content identifiers are part of TV-Anytime information in DVB transport streams (ETSI TS 102 323 v1.5.1)
Events in input source may contain a content reference identifier (CRID) which
is a unique identifier for the content. If the input source contains CRIDs these can

be output as content identifier descriptors in the output.

This field identifies the type of the CRID.
0 – No type defined.
1 – CRID references the item of content that this event is an instance of.
2 – CRID references a series that this event belongs to.
3 – CRID references a recommendation. This CRID can be a group or a single
item of content.
This field specifies the location of the CRID information.
0 – Carried explicitly within descriptor (this is the only supported value)
1 – Carried in a CIT table (not supported)
This field carries the explicitly encoded CRID.
The CRID is specified in a similar manner as an URL.

4) Bandwidth is scarce resource

The question I get quite frequently is: EPG consumes my precious bandwidth, how should I optimise my EPG?”

First, the most important aspect is to define how much bandwidth are you able to allocate (=how much money do you have), perhaps 50kbit/s for each channel. The required bandwidth is based on the repetition rate and the amount of your data. The more frequently you send your data the more bandwidth you need. On the other hand, higher bandwidth means that your EPG is shown faster on the TV.

Fortunately, you can fine-tune your EPG delivery in several ways:

  • You can opt to send only EIT P/F and not EIT Schedule
  • You can decide the number of days broadcasted – will you send data for 2 or 21 days?
  • Optimise EIT table modules (yes, very technical) – it is possible to optimise the repetition rates/bandwidth per module. You can define e.g. that the first module that contains today’s data may use more bandwidth than the 7th day. There is a lot of fine-tuning to be done here.
  • EPG Event content optimisation
    1. It is also possible to define that e.g. for days 1-3 you send long descriptions and for days 4-7 only short descriptions.
    2. You can make your descriptions shorter
    3. Decide if you will send parental information
    4. Decide if you will send Content reference IDs (see bullet 5).

Don’t hesitate to contact me, if you want to discuss your EPG content strategy..

5) Serving the PVR/DVR lovers

Digital Video Recorded (DVR) usage is still high in many countries and one thing to consider is how to serve these users better (and ensure that your programs, and ads, are seen).

NDVR usage - source Comscore

There are few things you should do, or consider at least:

  • Indicate to viewers that a show is a re-run.
  • Another important topic for heavy recorders of series is the episode number
  • Uniqueness of the program, if you move the program to another time slot, some DVRs will miss the recording. The recording automation doesn’t understand that the program moved, but uses the original start-time and records what-ever is broadcasted at that time.

How can you as a broadcasters to convey this information?

There are three things basically you can use:

  • EPG events title, add as much information that fits
  • EPG events description, add as much information that fits
  • CRID, Content Reference Identifier

EPG event title and description can take the necessary information in textual format. Fortunately most DVRs have intelligent recording algorithms that can use title and description information and ensure that it doesn’t record the same program twice, but at the same time do record automatically all episodes of the series.

CRID is used to give each EPG event a unique ID that can be used by DVRs to ensure that they record the correct program. This is the “right” way to convey unique information for DVRs.  I won’t go into details with it, but have a look from Wikipedia. Keep in mind, although excellent feature in DVB, it is not supported by all receivers.

+1) Consider to offer enhanced EPG

As you probably understood from above, DVB limits quite heavily what you can offer to viewers in EPG. An enhanced EPG combines content from broadcast and broadband and can thus include images, videos and more detailed and even personalised information on programming. Depending on the case it may also offer advertising opportunities.

Enhanced EPG can be provided either by a broadcaster or operator and take over the device manufacturers default EPG, to which they do not have any control over.

We at Icareus have also years of experience building EPGs apps for both operators and broadcasters and can help you to outline the correct strategy in combining broadcast and enhanced EPG.

Below are some examples of enhanced EPGs, for both broadcasters and operators.

Related material for this blog

Downloads and Material

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Icareus Playout EPG presentation

Product Presentation

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Icareus EPG solution to ERT, the public radio and television broadcaster of Greece

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Helsinki, 24,10.2019Icareus’ distributor Epeegee has delivered Icareus Playout EPG solution to ERT, the public radio and television broadcaster for Greece. Icareus Playout EPG solution is used to manage the PSI/SI and EPG signalling of all of the over twenty ERT distributed TV and Radio channels to several uplinks.

Yiannis Vougiouklakis - ERT

Mr. Yiannis Vougiouklakis, Head Of Digital Strategy of ERT

ERT’s Mr. Yiannis Vougiouklakis, Head Of Digital Strategy, comments the selection of Icareus EPG: “Icareus Playout offered us a flexible, robust and well-known EPG platform to offer better TV experience to our viewers. As a public broadcaster our high standards require us to trust on the best product on the market and Icareus Playout matched all our requirements”.

Icareus EPG offers a scalable and versatile EPG platform for ERT. The EIT information can be automatically ingested from different sources such as live streams, XML and text files. Icareus’ distributor and system integrator partner Epeegee has been responsible for the sales, integration and training of Icareus Playout EPG for ERT.

Epeegee’s CEO Mr Stathis Michail comments the selection of Icareus EPG: “Icareus Playout is a trusted solution that the Public Broadcaster can rely on. Its versatility and flexibility made the integration with ERT’s infrastructure easy and effortless”.

Icareus’ Director Mr Mikko Karppinen comments: “ERT is known as an innovative leader of the Greek TV market and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the journey to offer better TV services to their viewers. Icareus Playout once again proved to be the right solution for a public broadcaster, which to me is proof that our extensive R&D work is going to right direction”.

Icareus Playout EPG solution offers Trusted Broadcast Technology enjoyed by leading broadcasters and operators globally for over a decade. Icareus Playout EP110 server is a full-scale PSI/SI generator server targeted for operators and broadcasters to manage their DVB multiplexes and channel line-ups. The tested integrations to multiplexes, EPG data providers, network management systems and Icareus Suite enable quick deployment and high reliability. Icareus global reseller and systems integrator partners offer high service levels and peace-of-mind to our customers. Icareus Playout EPG solutions have been deployed in broadcasting production since 2004.

Icareus Playout EPG is part of Icareus Playout broadcast head-end product family, which also includes Icareus CS DSM-CC Carousel servers for HbbTV and other interactive TV standards, Icareus Playout SSU servers for boot-loading the TV devices’ firmware and Icareus Playout Compact Lab solution for research, development and testing TV services. For more information about EPG solution visit: http://www.icareus.com/icareus-playout/#ep

Epeegee represents in Greece several leading manufacturers and software houses specializing in developing applications for Broadcasters, Media Houses and Production Companies. Epeegee holds a unique know-how on Application development for multiscreen, OTT, DRM, NFC, software development methodology and media consultancy. For more information, visit https://epeegee.com/.

ERT, The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (Greek: Ελληνική Ραδιοφωνία Τηλεόραση (ΕΡΤ), Ellinikí Radiofonía Tileórasi or ERT) is the state-owned public radio and television broadcaster for Greece. It runs five TV channels (ERT1, ERT2, ERT3, ERT SportsHD and ERT World), ERT Hybrid Services, six national radio services (First programme, Second Programme, Third Programme and Era Sport, Kosmos, Voice of Greece), 19 Regional radio stations, and four Internet TV channels ERTPLAY 1, ERTPLAY 2, ERTPLAY 3 and ERTPLAY 4. For more information visit: https://www.ert.gr


For more Information:

Ms. Jessica Glad


Icareus Ltd

Email: jessica.glad[at]icareus.com

Telephone: +358 (0)9 2289 0801


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Twitter: http://twitter.com/Icareus

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/icareus-ltd-

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Audience Measurement from 2 million+ Turkish TVs and HbbTV services for four channels with the effort of one

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Helsinki, 23.5.2018 Icareus has delivered a turnkey HbbTV solution to ATV, the leading commercial broadcaster in Turkey. ATV wanted to offer more to their viewers and to understand better how their channels are watched, so they turned to Icareus to design and deliver a complete SmartTV service based on HbbTV (www.hbbtv.org). Icareus build a turnkey HbbTV solution based on its existing products that enabled ATV (www.atv.com.tr) and its sister channels A Haber, A Spor and children’s’ channel Minika to offer valuable services to their viewers via SmartTVs.

The delivered solution consists Icareus Playout CS100 for HbbTV signalling, Icareus Suite platform for cloud-based HbbTV service management, Icareus Audience Measurement solution and an assortment of HbbTV applications for all the four channels.

Icareus HbbTV solution was selected because it offers an economical and the most feature rich HbbTV platform on the market. Icareus solutions have been tested and deployed in production use for years. The solution offer ATV the most flexible and modular platform to provide better TV experience for their TV viewers.

Icareus Suite is a cloud based versatile TV and online video platform. It is targeted for TV operators and broadcasters to manage their IP and Broadcast based hybrid TV services, SmartTV applications and other content. Icareus Suite provides an easy-to-use web management interface to manage service delivery, analytics, and customisation of HbbTV Applications. Icareus Suite enabled ATV to adopt the applications look-and-feel to each channel’s own brand without any programming and thus decreasing the both the deployment time and cost, to a cost comparable to a single channel deployment.

Icareus Suite is a modular platform and in addition to HbbTV application management its core modules include asset management for VOD and Catch-up TV, EPG management, payTV provisioning, subscriber-, device-, and account management.

Icareus Suite can be offered as a cloud service, but ATV preferred a on-premise installation.

Icareus Playout Carousel offers Trusted Broadcast Technology enjoyed by leading broadcasters and operators globally for over a decade. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel™ is the solution for TV operators and broadcasters for DVB datacasting services. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel Server allows the building and supervision of high quality value-added television services by multiplexing data in real-time. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel server supports HbbTV and other interactive TV standard based applications.

Icareus Audience Measurement solution provide tools for TV Operators, broadcasters and other service providers collect and analyse information about their audiences, either watching or using their TV services. The information can be collected from any device connected to the service including HbbTVs, set-top boxes, SmartTVs, tablets, mobile phones and wed services.

Icareus Audience Measurement solution provides ATV the valuable real-time data on how viewers watch their channels, on-demand videos and interact with their TV applications. The real panel of 2 million TVs connected to Icareus system provides insight that any other solution could not deliver giving ATV an edge to offer AddressableTV on phase two of the project.

HbbTV services and applications delivered to ATV include:

  • Launcher application, which is autostarted on all channels and takes control of desired buttons (color buttons mainly). Each button can be assigned with a scheduled action. Includes support for showing scheduled banners and linking to advertisers own portals.
  • Portal / Menu offering a visible entry-point to all HbbTV services
  • Enhanced EPG application showing broadcast channel program data with enhanced metadata
  • Catch-up TV service providing access to thousands of ATV series and archives
  • Video-on-demand service of the movies and TV programs
  • News service providing the latest Turkish news from the RSS source
  • Weather application…you know, sun is always shining in Turkey

The solution is future-proofed allowing ATV to easily and quickly deploy and customize new HbbTV applications thereby avoiding the need to develop new applications from scratch.

About ATV

ATV is a nationwide TV channel in Turkey, began broadcasting in September 1993. ATV is one of Turkey’s most prominent and acclaimed television networks meeting global broadcasting standards and a jewel in the crown of the Turkuvaz Media Group. It has been a highly influential player in the shaping of Turkish television over the years due to its innovative and ground-breaking approach to program-making. As a leader in the TV broadcasting sector, ATV also has a powerful commercial capability. The channel is renowned for its enthralling dramas, hilarious comedies, action-packed series and engaging sitcoms – all of which are produced to the highest quality. In addition, the distribution arm of ATV brings a wide array of choice and diversity, offering series exceeding 20,000 hours as well as formats and TV movies. ATV also has the highest foreign sales ratio among its competitors and its series that are sold to customers in over 30 countries worldwide achieve spectacular ratings. ATV is an acronym of Actual Television (Aktüel Televizyonu) and it has sister channels A2, A Haber, A News and A Spor. For more information visit: https://www.atv.com.tr/

About Orsatek

Orsatek is a system integrator operating in Turkey. They provide consultancy and integration services to small/large broadcasters or companies having content to manage based on years of experience in Media Asset Management and Broadcast Automation System together with their experience in Information Technologies. For more information visit: http://orsatek.tv/en/

Icareus’ products and solutions used at ATV

Icareus Playout HbbTV Carousel Streamer: http://www.icareus.com/icareus-playout/#cs

Icareus Suite: http://www.icareus.com/online-video-platform/

Icareus Audience Measurementhttp://www.icareus.com/audience-measurement/

Icareus HbbTV: http://www.icareus.com/hbbtv/


For more Information:

Ms Jessica Glad
Icareus Ltd
Email: jessica.glad[at]icareus.com
Telephone: +358 (0)9 2289 0801

Follow Icareus on:


Facebook: www.facebook.com/Icareus


Mediaset rolls out their HbbTV services with Icareus

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Helsinki, 23.5.2018, Mediaset, the leading commercial broadcaster in Italy, launched their hybrid, broadcast and broadband services (HbbTV) services in 2017 with the help of Icareus. Icareus delivered new HbbTV Carousel solutions to Mediaset, that was rigorously tested to support the simulcast of the legacy MHP platform and HbbTV, the critical requirement in Italy. Icareus solution will allow them to expand their HbbTV services.

Icareus Playout CS Carousel server won the tender process arranged by Mediaset, due to the Icareus Carousel platform’s versatile features, the competitive costs and long history in broadcast production use. In addition Mediaset is long time Icareus customer and has experience of using Icareus Carousel server in their lab environment already since 2014, when it was delivered by Icareus partner Thomson Video Networks.

Icareus HbbTV Carousel server allows Mediset to offer interactive HbbTV (www.hbbtv.org) experience to its viewers while managing the services and network parameters in the most efficient way possible. The Icareus Playout system provides Mediaset the most flexible and modular platform for hybrid HbbTV services.

The delivery includes the solution for Mediaset’s terrestrial network and to Mediaset’s lab, allowing Mediaset to test and develop HbbTV services.

Icareus’ Director Mr Mikko Karppinen says that “Mediaset is one of the best know commercial broadcasters in the whole Europe and it has also been one of the pioneers in interactive TV services  during the 21st century. We are proud that Icareus Playout CS solution matches the high criteria of Mediaset and feel honoured and more than happy to deliver our HbbTV platform and to continue to innovate with them”.

Icareus’ experienced broadcasting TV system partner Syes (System Engineering Solutions) is responsible of the integration, installation and delivery of the Icareus Playout CS HbbTV Carousel solution to Mediset.

About Icareus Playout

Icareus Playout Carousel offers Trusted Broadcast Technology enjoyed by leading broadcasters and operators globally for over a decade. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel™ is the leading solution for TV operators and broadcasters for DVB interactive datacasting services. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel Server allows the building and supervision of high quality value-added television services by multiplexing data in real-time. The data can be received from multiple sources: DVB-ASI feeds and/or IP-networks. All carousels are generated in real-time, and both the carousel content and AIT application signalling can be updated dynamically. Icareus’ Playout CS100 Carousel server supports HbbTV and other interactive TV standard based applications. For more information visit: http://www.icareus.com/icareus-playout/#cs

About Mediaset

Mediaset Group is the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy. Founded in the 1970s by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Mediaset’s headquarters are in Milan, Lombardy. Mediaset Group’s has currently 11 free-to-air channels, two broadcast PayTV packages and over-the-top services. In addition to its domestic television interests, Mediaset also operates a series of news, entertainment and sport websites; holds 50.1% of the Spanish broadcasting firm Mediaset España Comunicación; owns the film production company Medusa Film; and heads a consortium which owns the television production house Endemol. For more information visit: http://www.mediaset.it

About Syes

Syes (System Engineering Solutions) designs, manufactures and commissions TV broadcasting systems.

Core products are transmitters and repeaters of any power. Syes has also a long experience in system integration, especially of Head Ends. The key customers are the main national broadcasters, not only in Italy but all over the World. Syes headquarters is in Italy with facilities in Miami (USA), Hong Kong (China), Obninsk (Russia). For more information visit: http://www.syes.eu

For more Information:

Ms Jessica Glad
Icareus Ltd
Email: jessica.glad[at]icareus.com
Telephone: +358 (0)9 2289 0801

Follow Icareus on:

Twitter: twitter.com/Icareus

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/icareus-ltd-

Icareus EPG Platform to Phuong Nam Company in Vietnam

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Helsinki, 23.5.2018,Phuong Nam Television Company, has selected Icareus Playout EPG platform to manage and distribute their Electronic Program Guide information in all of their cable networks. The delivery includes a turn-key solution to enhance the user experience by providing full 7 day EPG data on all premium channels. Icareus Playout enabled them to easily aggregate EPG data from various sources and to manage and optimise the delivery in their regionalised cable network in the best possible manner.

Icareus Playout EPG platform was selected, because it offers flexible, versatile and economical EPG platform meeting the specific requirements of Phuong Nam Television Company. Icareus Playout EPG enables Phuong Nam Television Company to insert PSI and EIT information from XML sources automatically, manage the channel data and contribute the data as IP TS through multiplexer to cable network. Icareus Playout EPG is used to provide a better TV experience.

Icareus’ systems integrator partner Vietcoms is responsible for the sales, integration, installation and delivery of the Icareus Playout EPG platform to Phuong Nam Television Company.

Icareus Director Mr Mikko Karppinen comments: “Icareus has had TV operator customers in Vietnam since 2012. We are more than glad to have the opportunity to widen our operations in Vietnam and to have Phuong Nam Television Company as our customer.”

About Icareus Playout

Icareus Playout EPG solution offers Trusted Broadcast Technology enjoyed by leading broadcasters and operators globally for over a decade. Icareus Playout EP110 server is a full-scale PSI/SI generator server targeted for operators and broadcasters to manage their DVB multiplexes and channel line-ups. The tested integrations to multiplexes, EPG data providers, network management systems and Icareus Suite enable quick deployment and high reliability. Icareus global reseller and systems integrator partners offer high service levels and peace-of-mind to our customers. Icareus Playout EPG solutions have been deployed in TV broadcasting production since 2004.

Icareus Playout EPG is part of Icareus Playout head-end product family, which also includes Icareus CS DSM-CC Carousel servers for HbbTV and other Interactive TV standards, Icareus Playout SSU servers for boot-loading the TV devices’ firmware and Icareus Playout Compact Lab solution for research, development and testing TV services.   For more information about EPG solution visit: http://www.icareus.com/icareus-playout/#ep

About Phuong Nam Television Company

Phuong Nam Television Company Limited (previously known as Vinh Long Cable Television Limited Company) is a unit of Vinh Long Radio and Television Station, which is responsible for information and entertainment needs of local people in the Vinh Long province. Phuong Nam Television provides TV services on cable television network including broadcast television channels, pay-TV channels, Internet services, promotion and value-added services. In addition to cable TV, Phuong Nam Television is also deploying digital terrestrial television network based on DVB-T2 on the southern part of Vietnam. For more information visit: http://thvl.vn  or https://www.facebook.com/phuongnamco.tv/

About Viet Communications

VIET COMMUNICATIONS JSC. (VIETCOMS) was founded in Vietnam in 2005. Vietcoms has delivered technology solutions and expertise to most of broadcast and PayTV operators in Vietnam with support from the world’s premier equipment vendors. Vietcoms design and build facilities focussing on signal processing, satellite/ IP/ SDH/ fiber transmission, Headend for CATV/ DTH/ DTT/ IPTV, HFC network etc. Vietcoms is proud to be a longterm supplier for major operators in Vietnam like VTV, VTC, AVG, VASC, Viettel, Vinasat, HTV, SCTV. Vietcoms commit to deliver excellent professional integration and after sales service to our customer by investment in training our engineering and designer team to ensure that they are accreditable and abreast of new technology like OTT, Multiscreen, as well as booming application such as HDTV, 3DTV, IPTV. For more information visit: http://www.vietcoms.com

For more Information

Ms Jessica Glad
Icareus Ltd
Email: jessica.glad[at]icareus.com
Telephone: +358 (0)9 2289 0801