Stirred by advances in broadband and data streaming technology, consumer appetite for in-home entertainment and theIndian government’s ambitious plans to connect more than 250,000 remote panchayats (villages)to the Internet, a wide array of operators have jumped into the booming market for delivering video content to the home.
Despite the feverish activity around OTT entertainment, the real market opportunity lies in what’s just ahead. In the very near future, this space will not just be about just delivering content to homes across the country, it will be about making the home set-top box (STB) the central hub for all entertainment, communications, appliances, environmental controls, fire detection and security systems. As broadband and Internet connectivity become more commonplace across India, advanced STBs will become one of the most important elements in joining every connected device in the “smart” home.
India’s population is dramatically more diverse than other countries– geographically, socially and economically. And that diversity has somewhat hampered efforts to roll out Internet connectivity nationwide. Indeed, as of 2013, 1 billion Indians remained without Internet access, according to “Offline and falling behind: Barriers to Internet adoption,” a McKinsey & Co. report.
Today, as the government embarks on their ambitious project to lay 372,000 miles of fiber optic cable and connect hundreds of thousands of India residents to the Internet over the next several years, the opportunity for operators to provide new applications and services to smart homes could be enormous.
Of course, seizing that opportunity will depend upon chaving the right technologies in place to quickly and seamlessly deliver broadband signals to cities and rural areas across the subcontinent. Today, these five technologies are playing a significant role in accomplishing this goal: C-DOCSIS; MoCA; HEVC; 5G WiFi (802.11ac); and DLNA.
1.C-DOCSIS: Enabling More Efficient Data Delivery to the Home
Historically, Indian consumers have had to settle for slow cable or telephone lines for their Internet connections. That’s often meant excruciatingly long waits for email, frustratingly choppy streamed video content and painfully unreliable voice over IP (VoIP) phone calls.
Enter DOCSIS (the Data over Cable Service Internet Specification), which allows for the transfer of high-bandwidth data over existing cable infrastructure. The first “C” in C-DOCSIS stands for China, but the budding, low-cost architecture tailored for high-density apartment buildings and other forms of multi-dwelling units is playing a significant role in a number of emerging cable markets around the globe, including India.
Already in deployment or under review in China, Thailand, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Brazil, C-DOCSIS is expected to play a major role globally as cable operators look to expand their footprint with deep fiber deployments to address single-family homes and multi dwelling units.
The innovative architecture of C-DOCSIS not only powers the technologies of today but also sets the stage for the advanced services of tomorrow.
2.MoCA: Making Multi-Room Streaming Possible
No home can ever be considered “smart” if users can only see what’s happening on a single screen or in a single room. Yet, while 83 percent of viewers today engage in multiscreen viewing, only 39 percent of service providers offer support for streaming content to secondary screens, according to an Infonetics report.
This is where MoCA (the Multimedia over Coax Alliance) comes into play. MoCA provides bandwidth reliability for in-home networking and multi-room content sharing. In a nutshell, it can transform any house with a coax cable into a smart home. The latest iteration, MoCA 2.0, doubled available bandwidth from previous standards, enhancing both video quality and signal distribution. Advanced power management technologies also provide energy-efficient, high-speed networking capabilities with higher levels of security for improved content protection.
MoCA will play an important role in the delivery of seamless, high quality viewing experiences in the Indian home – whether they are located in a major city or a remote village.
3.HEVC Chips for Hybrid Set-Top Boxes
It’s no secret that television viewers have an insatiable appetite for quality on-screen images. When HD television came along, it ushered in a whole new way for consumers to watch programs and movies, changing how entertainment was delivered to the home. Now, Ultra HD, also known as 4K TV, is taking that to the next level with a tenfold increase in raw pixel data over HDTV.
The challenge with Ultra HD is that its crisp signals are sizable – too big for legacy systems to handle without running into transmission issues. To address this challenge, multiple industry players collaborated to develop a more efficient video compression standard known as HEVC (or High Efficiency Video Coding).
The HEVC standard significantly speeds the transmission of 4K content, allowing operators and users to receive Ultra HD content in half the time or at 50 percent of the bit rate compared to the previous coding standard.Today, HEVC chips in hybrid set-top boxes (those that support both video broadcasting and IP-based video streams) are making it possible for consumers to watch live and streaming OTT content and enjoy more HD channels.
4.5G WiFi (802.11ac): Connecting “Things” Throughout the Home
Gartner predicts there will be almost 25 billion connected “things” – or three for every person on the planet - by 2020. No doubt, many connected devices will reside in the home and each of these devices will require Internet connectivity.
While Wi-Fi technology has been commonplace in homes and businesses for several years, it’s only recently that the technology has reached a level where it’s capable of handling the dramatic increase in the number of connected devices in the home. 5G WiFi, based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard, delivers a significant increase in bandwidth and data transfer reliability. Up to three times faster and six times more power efficient than its predecessor, 5G WiFican deliver eight times the capacity and broader coverage with fewer dead spots.
5G WiFi offers better range and wall throughput than preceding Wi-Fi technologies, resulting in improved coverage and signal strength to a number of connected devices whether they’re in the corner room upstairs, the basement downstairs or behind concrete walls.
5.DLNA: Protecting Content Across Multiple Devices
Consumers today do not give much thought to whether they are streaming movies or games from a cable operator or OTT service provider. Aside from price, it’s all pretty much the same to them. But on the back end, an organization known asDLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is assuring the interoperability of devices.
Founded in 2003 with a current membership of 200 companies, this multi-industry collaboration continues to implement a set of guidelines that are used by service providers, electronics manufacturers and software developers to provide consistent performance in a connected home environment.
At the same time, DLNA Link Protection, an extension of DLNA guidelines, helps assure the protection of content streams between devices on DLNA networks from illegitimate observation or interception. This means broadcast operators can be less concerned about the risk of content theft as consumers share content on multiple devices. Caption: The upside for consumers is the ability to access and enjoy digital media anywhere in the house, whether they’re using a computer, tablet or smartphone. DLNA’s latest CVP-2 standard sees to that.