By: Luis Martinez-Amago
President for North Americas Connected Home Division
Many Network Service Providers (NSPs) are adjusting their video strategy to adapt to the market trends. The way we all consume content is evolving rapidly. We expect a better, easier, and more convenient access to content. Customers like to use the TV, but also have access to their preferred content on many other devices, most notably the mobile phone. In addition, OTT streaming platforms are finding a place next to the traditional NSP’s STB or in some cases replacing them, creating a battle for the “default” TV source.
In order to cope with these new trends, the NSPs are evolving their video ecosystem strategy. Some of the big players keep enhancing their in-house developed solutions, such as XFinity or Spectrum incorporating very advanced functionalities. Many others are abandoning customized or in-house developments to adopt off-the-shelf platforms with large supporting ecosystems around them, such as Android TV among others, which provides a quick and competitive response to the competitive pressure. Some other NSPs are joining the XFinity solution, including the hardware family that goes with it.
Regardless of an NSP’s video ecosystem platform going forward, there are changes in the video services being delivered, as well as the ways in which those video services are delivered. First, you have an upward trend in the sheer number of video services to deliver. This embodies itself in the need and desire to integrate Netflix, YouTube, and other OTT services with your traditional MVPD service, in a unified, easy-to-navigate user experience. Second, you have an increasing trend towards IP delivery, regardless of video service type. NSPs are already embracing IP delivery to reach those non-TV screens, such as tablets and smartphones. OTT video services are already delivering over IP. As an NSP, the platform economics continually shift to favoring OTT-like IP delivery methods instead of traditional broadcast means. Directly alongside the topic of content delivery, we also see the increasing trends towards the delivery of UHD video experiences, with the extra pixels of 4k and the better pixels of HDR. Add all of these points together, and you have very significant shifts happening in the underlying hardware architecture of the STBs we are creating for our NSP customers.
With the concept of IP for video delivery, let’s speak more generally about IP delivery across all service types delivered to the home. As consumers, we are both dramatically increasing the number of IP devices we connect to our home network, as well as dramatically increasing the number of IP services we consume on those devices. And while we now implicitly understand this IP connectivity is nearly 100% over Wi-Fi, we cannot underestimate both the complexity of the in-home Wi-Fi network, as well as the importance of that Wi-Fi network to our NSP customers and their subscribers. From an NSP perspective, delivering a superior Wi-Fi quality of experience is paramount for many reasons, including (a) to create a sticky connection to the NSP’s broadband service, (b) to lower the OPEX cost of delivering