Are you ready for a better Wi-Fi?

You normally don’t think about your wireless connection… until it stops working. And if you’ve WiFiTips_BlogPost_3Oct2014noticed that happening more and more often lately—as you stream movies from Netflix, multiscreen your TV, and level up your multiplayer gaming—the culprit could be your modem.

The easiest way to update your home network—and the first step to getting a flawless connection—is upgrading your cable modem. We offer a number of class-leading examples in our SURFboard line.

The second step is placement. While most people tend to tuck their modems away in the furthest reaches of the home, that’s usually not the best place when it comes to wireless networking. The fewer walls, floors, and general obstructions a wireless signal has to travel through, the better your signal strength is going to be. So get your modem out of the basement or broom closet and find a tasteful place to for it on the main floor of the house, in a reasonably centralized location.

The third step is extension. Larger houses present a unique challenge to wireless networks: more square footage means more ground for your modem to cover and more potential signal obstructions. Enter network extenders, like the ARRIS Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender WR2100. By placing these throughout a large home, you will be able to enhance existing Wi-Fi coverage and eliminate all of those dreaded “dead-spots.”

For more tips, tricks and general information on home networks and ARRIS’s wide range of networking products, be sure to visit surfboard.com.

MBA Students Team with ARRIS for Interactive Launch Competition

The 2014 Interactive Launch Competition pits the country’s top MBA students against one Wharton Team 2another in developing new ways to advance the entertainment industry.

But they’ll have help… from the industry’s leading brands. In this year’s competition, ARRIS will be working with MBA students from the leading schools such as Columbia, Harvard, MIT, NYU and Wharton  to submit their marketing presentation and strategy on the latest video innovations.

Our very own Tom McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Sales, will coach the students through their submission on video gateway innovation, before it goes to a panel of industry judges for the final verdict.

The judges are: Nomi Bergman, Bright House Networks; Peter Stern, Time Warner Cable; Piers Lingle, Comcast; Roger Keating, Hearst Television; and Guhan Selveratnam, Discovery Communications. The competition will be hosted by Craig Leddy of Interactive TV Works.

ARRIS wishes the best of luck to students Akansha Kumar, Michael Modon, Shilpa Rao, and Steven Sunmonu.

This year’s competition is taking place today from 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at the NYU Kimmel Center Grand Hall in New York, NY.

CableFax Recognizes ARRIS’s Debbie Stackis and Sandy Howe Among the Most Powerful Women in Cable

Earlier today, CableFax Magazine recognized Debbie Stackis and Sandy Howe—our SVP & GM of Consumer 24522 CFAX Powerful Women Logo_FINAL (3)Solutions and SVP of Global Marketing & Communications, respectively—at its annual Most Powerful Women in Cable awards ceremony for their contributions in advancing the cable communications industry.

Sandy & Debbie Most powerful Women ASwards 1We’re proud to have many women leading ARRIS’s vision for the future of entertainment and communications. Both Debbie and Sandy play an integral role in shaping the way that millions of people around the world experience cable, but they’re also paving the way for more women and minorities to bring our industry the diversity that it needs to continue evolving.

Congratulations to Debbie and Sandy and to all the women in this year’s CableFax Most Powerful Women in Cable for inspiring the next generation of industry leaders!

Mobile: the next big opportunity for TV service providers?

ARRIS is attending DigiWorld Summit in Montpellier France this week to discuss whether mobile, a device that has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, could be set to revolutionize television in the same way.

As we know TV consumption is rapidly becoming a multiscreen experience, with people increasingly expecting to be able to watch their favorite shows on either their tablets or smartphones. But so far TV on these device has been delivered through catch-up or streaming services – not live broadcast. What if the mobile could do more?

Cornel Ciocirlan, CTO EMEA, will speak on a panel alongside experts including the BBC and France Télévisions, to debate whether established TV services (live broadcasts) can be delivered to mobile devices, and what future technologies are needed to make this a possibility. The panel will also discuss how traditional service providers should view this as an opportunity to grow its audiences. In the future device user-scenarios will evolve, and traditional cable TV models could be disrupted, to include mobile as a true alternative or complement to the tethered first screen.

If you’re attending DigiWorld Summit, Cornel’s panel today, Thursday 20th November, 12:10-13:50. More information about the event can be found here.

HEVC Makes nDVR and JIT Transcoding and Packaging More Attractive

By Sean McCarthy, Ph.D., Fellow

By Sean McCarthy, Ph.D., Fellow

A decade ago when Advanced Video Coding (AVC/H.264/MPEG4 part 10) was first introduced as a new international compression standard, it was hailed as improving video quality and reducing bit rates by a factor of 2 compared to MPEG-2 video compression.  Today, the buzz is about a newer new international compression standard, this time called High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC for short.

It is tempting to repeat the old theme that HEVC is twice as efficient as AVC just as AVC was twice as efficient as MPEG-2.  But doing so would ignore history.

AVC did much more than double compression efficiency.  It enabled new distribution models such as IPTV. And it changed the way we watch television by enabling tablets, smartphones, and laptops to become mobile TVs.

HEVC, the newcomer, could now change the heart of cable television’s infrastructure.  In doing so, it could finally make the consumer’s dream of watching whatever one wants, wherever one wants, whenever one wants, into a bona fide everyday expectation.

The digital television industry has been moving towards the whatever-whenever-wherever model for awhile.  We started by putting personal digital video recorders (DVR) into set top boxes.  We also created an infrastructure and back office that lets consumers order programming on-demand over cable pipes.  More recently, we’ve been leveraging IP networks and transcoding to deliver programming to both traditional and new mobile television screens such as tablets and laptops.

Logically, the next step is to put the DVR functionality in the network (nDVR or cloud DVR).  Yet we have been largely shut out of that option because the amount of storage and file management needed have been too monumental.  That is where HEVC comes in, but not in the most simplistic way one might imagine.

Just as AVC needed IP-encapsulation as a partner to enable IPTV; HEVC needs Just-in-Time (JIT) transcoding and JIT packaging as partners to give viewers nearly unlimited viewing options.

A whatever-whenever-wherever nDVR can be created by brute force.  Save a copy of the MPEG-2 program indicated by the subscriber.  Then create bouquets of AVC/MPEG4 and HEVC profiles to support multiple screens and bandwidth options.  Next, individually package each set of profiles for delivery over HLS, Smooth Streaming, MPEG DASH, etc.  Finally, install a file management system to keep track of this explosion of content fragments.

Brute force is not always the simplest solution.

A better alternative is to store a single “reference” copy of the subscriber’s content.  Install a just-in-time (JIT) transcoder to convert the reference content to the bit rate and compression format needed to support the subscriber’s viewing request.  For traditional cable services, the reference copy can be transcoded to MPEG-2 and sent by QAM.  For multiscreen and adaptive bit rate services, the JIT transcoder can create the individual profile variants on-the-fly as needed and deliver them to a JIT packager to create the appropriate HLS/Smooth-Streaming/MPEG-DASH formats.

The JIT transcoder/JIT packager architecture can cut storage by at least 75% because each set of AVC profiles can easily grow to be as large as and larger than original MPEG-2 program the subscriber wanted to record, and one would need to plan on creating three adaptive streaming variations. With JIT transcoding, the AVC profiles do not need to be stored.  With JIT packaging, the adaptive bit rate variations do not need to be stored. Only the “reference” copy takes up space.

HEVC will always be introduced as the smartest and most efficient member of the MPEG compression family for the foreseeable future.  But deeds are more important than promises.  We think HEVC will be remembered not only for its innate compression efficiency, but also as the cornerstone of the next-generation cable television architecture that finally created what consumers have always really wanted: The convenience of having a high quality television experience wherever and whenever they choose.

Background Notes on viewing behavior and just-in-time packaging:

1)      ARRIS 2014 Consumer Entertainment Index (http://success.arrisi.com/arriscei)

2)      L. Milin & C. Ansley. (ARRIS) “Cloud-Based DVR and Multiscreen Support Strategies – Optimizing Storage and Transcoding.”  The Cable Show, Spring Technical Forum, 2014 (http://www.nctatechnicalpapers.com/Paper/2014/2014-cloud-based-dvr-and-multiscreen-support-strategies-optimizing-storage-and-transcoding)

3)      “REPACKAGING Overview” (ARRIS/SeaWell Network) (Spectrum_Repackaging_Overview-1.doc)

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of November 10, 2014

This week, several outlets, including CED, highlighted the recent announcement that WOW! will offer its Ultra TV customers that subscribe to Netflix access to the streaming content through a Netflix app integrated into leased ARRIS set-tops.

Separately, Digital TV Europe reported that ARRIS has partnered with African TV service provider ZAP to offer network DVR (nDVR) and video on demand (VOD) services using the APEX3000 chassis-based edge QAM platform.

In other industry news, Rapid TV News ran a story about newly published research from Parks Associates, which found that Europe has surpassed the US in the number of households with a PC connected to the TV, and FierceOnlineVideo reports that cord cutters may be more likely to return to pay-TV if they have a bad streaming experience with OTT services.

Finally, a story from Broadband Technology Report notes that global shipments of Ultra HD-capable set-top boxes are projected to reach 48 million by 2020, while the market for HEVC set-top boxes will hit 88 million units, according to a study by ABI Research.

Check back next week for the latest industry news.

  1. WOW! tunes in Netflix on ARRIS boxes (Nov. 12) By Mike Robuck, CED: WOW! will be offering its Ultra TV customers that subscribe to Netflix access to the streaming content through a Netflix app that works on ARRIS boxes in their homes. Developed for WOW! by ARRIS, the Ultra TV set-top box integrates a Netflix app into the leased boxes.
  2. ZAP partners with ARRIS for African nDVR and VoD (Nov. 12) By Staff Writer, Digital TV Europe: Sub-Sahara Lusophone African TV service provider ZAP has partnered with ARRIS to offer network DVR (nDVR) and video on demand (VOD) services. Satellite TV provider ZAP is to use ARRIS’s APEX3000 chassis-based edge QAM platform to merge network traffic and increase channel capacity, with system integrator Satcab deploying the solution.
  3. European connected TV market surpasses US (Nov. 12) By Joseph O’Halloran, Rapid TV News: Europe is a hot spot for connected TV driven by rapidly expanding broadband and over-the-top (OTT) services according to research from Parks Associates.
  4. Bad OTT experience could chase cord cutters back to pay TV (Nov. 12) By Samantha Bookman, FierceOnlineVideo: While a new generation of cord nevers may be willing to put up with occasional poor streaming quality of online video, cord cutters–that coveted group of past pay-TV subscribers who have ditched linear video service for Internet viewing–might return to the pay-TV fold if their streaming experience is bad.
  5. UltraHD, HEVC Set-Tops Set to Boom (Nov. 11) By Staff Writer, Broadband Technology Report: According to ABI Research, worldwide shipments of 4K/UltraHD-capable set-top boxes will reach 48 million by 2020, while HEVC set-top shipments will reach 88 million units. The research house expects about 60,000 set-top high-end gateway set-tops with UltraHD and HEVC capabilities to be deployed in 2014.
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