EchoStar grabs a stake in Kudelski set-top venture SmarDTV

EchoStar Corp. and the Kudelski Group are taking an already congenial relationship a step farther, joining forces in the development of advanced set-top boxes and conditional access modules for an international market.

Under the new agreement between the two partners, EchoStar will become a shareholder in SmarDTV, Kudelski's new subsidiary that will develop consumer devices for both the broadcasting and broadband markets, including gateways and set-tops. The manufacturer will also transfer its operations in Steeton, UK, and in Madrid, Spain, to SmarDTV.

The working relationship is the latest in a series of partnerships between EchoStar and Kudelski-owned companies including Nagra. Earlier this month, for example, EchoStar benefited when Nagra added new features to its MediaLive Secure Player, including dynamic ad insertion and audience measurement. The solution is used by Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) in its Dish Anywhere OTT service (the international version of its Sling TV offering), as well as by EchoStar, Dish's corporate cousin.

Owning shares in the SmarDTV venture gives EchoStar new presence on the international market.

"Partnering with Kudelski will allow both companies to expand our global reach and open up new business opportunities," said Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar, in a release. "The EchoStar brand will further develop its strong global presence, expanding our video and broadcast solutions with new international initiatives."

The move may be a smart one in terms of technology development as well: Kudelski Group, particularly through Nagra as well as OpenTV, holds more than 3,000 patents related to digital TV. It recently settled a patent dispute with Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), working out a long-term relationship with the SVOD provider.

For more:
- see the press release

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