A couple of years back, STBs were associated with CAS under a tough regulatory regime imposed by the government. Doordarshan started Free to Air service (DD Direct,) which made TV penetrations among remote villages a dream come true. The picture quality, however, distributed over analog cable network has been sub-par. Today, however, STB is increasingly seen as a technology easily deployed in living rooms. It is fuelling consumer appetite for ‘high-quality’ digital picture displayed on big screen TVs including fast growing LCD TV segment. Already, there are five DTH operators and the 6th one is about to launch service, along side of a host of cable operators.
Sale of LCD TVs in India is doubling year on year. Reports show a cross-over during mid 2012 between ramp-down of CRTs and ramp-up of LCD TV shipments. This is fast emerging as a key growth driver of STB sales in India. Other growth drivers for STBs include,
• availability of more channels
• availability of movie channels online
• availability of TV services in remote areas via DTH
• affordability-technically and commercially digital picture quality
• online shopping, online gaming
Going forward, customer expects even more channels, high picture quality (HD), return path for online polling and reality show participation, etc. This is not possible without advancements in the underlying STB technology. As indicated above, silicon in STB is the key driver that is helping achieve these goals
STB is increasingly seen as a technology easily deployed in living rooms. It is fuelling consumer appetite for ‘high-quality’ digital picture displayed on big screen TVs including fast growing LCD TV segment.
Adoption of new technologies
Today we see migration from DVB-S to DVB-S2, DVB-T to DVB-T2, etc. happening. Another move is from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 encoding (higher compression scheme). This is helping operators to put more channels into existing transponder bandwidth. As an example, today, based on DVB-S modulation and MPEG-2 encoding the operators are able to transmit ‘only seven’ Standard Definition channels. However, using DVB-S2 modulation combined with MPEG-4 (H.264) encoding, operators would be able to transmit 26 Standard Definition channels over the same transponder. The table below provides some figures calculated in terms of bandwidth available in various scenarios.
Note: Assumed 36MHz transponder usage for above calculation
There is also a trend seen world wide in moving from standard definition (SD) to High definition (HD). This trend has become more vigorous in last two years. As NXP we did some preliminary investigation among DTH operators and STB OEMs. It is determined that in year 2010; we will have around 14% of total STB shipments as HD STBs. This is expected to grow by 10% year on year for next two years.
Role of Semiconductors
Semiconductor technology plays a crucial role in making high quality TV services available at highly affordable cost to consumers. In order to make HD MPEG-4 services available to all, at affordable price levels, we need continued advancements in design as well as smaller process geometry (nm). Current trend among semiconductor players, is to integrate more functions like demodulator, transcoding, high end (3D) graphics along with MPEG decoders, all rolled inside a single chip. To address this, NXP has chosen to move to 45nM process geometry, leap-frogging its peers, who are working with 65nM process. Some of the advantages of smaller process geometry are
• Lower power
• Lower cost
• Higher integration possibilities in small form factor
High level of integration inside the chipset allows fast time to market (reduced integration time and hassle). We can expect more and more advancements happening going forward in the semiconductor technology to address the growing demand in the digital TV domain.
India being the key market, NXP will continue to focus on making India specific products addressing the cost sensitivity as well as technological needs of this market.