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Two Worlds Collide
CABLE TV converges with OTT

14 October 2011

In 1997 it became crystal clear to a lot of us working in Electronics that the two big juggernauts of our industry were set on a collision course, at the time we called this convergence and the two juggernauts in question were Consumer Electronics and Personal Computing. In the fall of that year Comdex (the PC show of the time) announced record attendance with the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in the January of 1998 mostly geared towards audio HiFi and car Audio. Two years on and Comdex is on its knees with CES now the biggest electronics show in the world.  The convergence came in the form that none of us expected, the MP3 player (initially the Diamond Rio) and subsequently the iPOD, which turned around the fortunes of a then bit player in the PC market, called Apple. There were many MP3 players launched at CES 2000 however, it required the genius of Steve Jobs (RIP) a year later to truly converge the IT world with the CE world by creating iTUNES and the iPOD.

The point of this history lesson is to teach us to apply the knowledge of the past to the present day. Today we again have two juggernauts set to collide and this time it’s the Cable TV industry and the Internet.  Cable has been providing content to Televisions since the 1980s and from 2000 the Internet has been doing the same, initially to PCs but now also to phones and tablet PCs. The point of collision is that we now have connected TVs and the time spent viewing the second screen devices is on the increase. The rhetoric talks about rights issues and cord-cutting and industries in danger.   The reality, as at the turn of the century, is one of convergence. Companies that embrace and champion this inevitability are more likely to become a success like Apple, unlike the ones that rail against it like Napster and BMG.

What will convergence of Cable and IP look like?
There are any number of likely contenders and certainly connected TVs and CI+ will have a part to play.   However, the media gateway is one of the most interesting innovations whereby both Cable and IP (OTT) content are networked from one central location to multiple rooms and multiple devices. The first media gateway offerings are expensive and are limited in their capability to provide cable content to multiple devices, so although the STB and Residential Gateway hardware are converged into one box, the content is still not universally available across all devices. Yes, there is convergence  but there are still a couple of important steps to take before we reach what we call at Motive Television the personal cloud(pCloud); an in home environment that allows all content to be accessed at anytime and anywhere on any device.  These steps are the same as those answered by iTunes/iPod back in 2001, namely the maintenance of digital rights and delivery of content in the right format and quality for the target device.

Motive Television is leading the way in the technology that enables these final steps towards convergence.   With our Television Anywhere and Video2Go technology we are enabling operators to deploy embedded software into their standard Set Top Boxes. The software applications can be deployed through upgrades and run on current SoC devices from the likes of ST Microelectronics and Broadcom.   

Tony Combe
CTO and VP Engineering Motive Television