Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of December 8, 2014

This week, Tom Cloonan, ARRIS’s Chief Technology Officer, Network Solutions, was featured as one of Multichannel NewsTechnology Executives of 2014 for his pioneering role in modern broadband technology and his ongoing contributions to the advancement of DOCSIS 3.1 and CCAP.

Separately, a number of outlets, including CED, covered this week’s news that Net2TV Corp.’s free, ad-supported streaming service, Portico TV will be offered on ARRIS set-tops with the recently launched ARRIS Market.

Also, FierceCable editor Daniel Frankel highlighted the growing awareness and adoption of 4K/Ultra HD technology, a topic he’ll discuss alongside ARRIS Engineering Fellow Sean McCarthy and other industry executives at the FierceCable executive breakfast during CES in January.

In other industry news, Engadget reported that, according to research from Ofcom, broadband usage is increasing in the UK, but the needed connection speeds to support the growing consumption are still unavailable to 15 percent of UK homes.

Finally, Advanced Television covered the results of Strategy Analytics’ Connected Home Devices service report, which found that U.S. ownership of Connected TV devices (smart TVs, digital media streamers, etc.) grew 28 percent year-over-year to reach 168 million units.

Check back next week for the latest industry news.

1.     Jack of All [Broadband] Trades (Dec. 8) By Jeff Baumgartner, Multichannel News: As the chief technology officer, network solutions, at ARRIS, Tom Cloonan plays an integral role in building the fabric of cable’s broadband future, whether it’s one that will be woven with next-generation hybrid fiber coaxial technologies like DOCSIS 3.1, new wireless broadband platforms, or, in some targeted situations, all-fiber infrastructures.

2.       ARRIS stocks OTT Market with Portico TV (Dec.11) By Mike Robuck, CED: Starting early next year, ARRIS will add N2TV’s streaming TV service, which is called Portico TV, to its over-the-top streaming platform for cable operators.

3.       Ready or not, 4K is coming … and you need a roadmap (Dec. 11) By Daniel Frankel, FierceCable: As anyone involved in the launch of HD a decade ago can tell you, getting a new resolution standard into the consumer mainstream isn’t easy.

4.       Brits double their broadband data usage, but speeds are still an issue (Dec. 8) By Nick Summers, Engadget: Broadband usage is soaring in the UK, but the companies piping it into our homes are still playing catch-up. That’s according to Ofcom, which looked into the state of connections across Britain.

5.       Connected TV device ownership up 28% in US (Dec. 11) By Staff Writer, Advanced Television: Ownership of Connected TV devices (including smart TVs, smart Blu-ray players, IP-enabled game consoles and digital media streamers) in the US grew 5 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2014 and 28 per cent year-on-year to reach 168 million units.

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!

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.

Keeping Military Families Connected

Today in the U.S., we celebrate our veterans and troops, and we recognize the advancements in veterans-daytechnology that are bringing them closer to home and allowing them to share their stories from abroad. We often hear stories of soldiers meeting their newborn babies through Skype and Facetime, and how deployed parents overseas can read bedtime stories to their children face-to-face.

At ARRIS, we take great pride in building entertainment and communications solutions that connect millions of people to the Internet, all over the world. When we think of the crucial role that this technology plays in keeping our troops connected to their families, it makes our work even more rewarding.

Thank you to all our veterans and troops at home and abroad!

Home Office Tech –Your New Business Partner

Working from home is a growing trend, and it’s putting new pressure on home networking Screen-shot-2013-04-14-at-8.00.36-PM-614x455equipment to keep up with the speed of business. Today, nearly a quarter of Americans do some or all of their work at home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And with growing business demands, home office enthusiasts need to squeeze every last ounce of bandwidth out of their data service. ARRIS helps them do that, today and long into the future.

SB6183_Left_Side2The ARRIS SURFboard® SB6183 is the world’s fastest modem, capable of reaching unmatched in-home data rates over 686 Mbps receiving and 131 Mbps sending—more than enough for today’s Internet speeds and ready to keep connections at peak performance for years to come.

Whether you work from home every other week or run a Fortune 500 in your living room, you can get the speed you need from ARRIS. Pick up the SB6183 or many of our other industry-leading products at BestBuy.com or Amazon.com!

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