Cable Congress Continues with Charles Cheevers Q&A

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Charles Cheevers, CTO, Customer Premises Equipment

The role of the set-top device/gateway is changing, how?

I think of the gateway and set-top device as Batman and Robin – an inseparable double team. Together they provide network services, high-quality IP Video images, and true entertainment platforms capable of new multi-room, multiscreen services. This will continue to transform our experience around various types of video content – gateways will become more powerful with greater bandwidth capabilities, alongside set-tops getting more powerful in both Graphics and Decode ability. Ultimately, Wi-Fi services will also become more important as MSOs increase their managed IP Video services as well as higher speed Wi-Fi High Speed Data expectations.

How will these changes impact devices? 

We’ll see a refresh of gateway devices, incorporating new features such as additional memory to allow for new applications and future services. We aim to keep the gateway form factors as small and ergonomic as possible as we see these devices potentially moving to different demarcation points in the home. Set-top devices are becoming smaller and smaller, but these devices are now expected to deliver richer and more powerful user experiences which typically means more CPU and GPU capabilities as well as more robust WiFi functionality.

What are the three largest challenges the industry is facing and what can service providers do to overcome these?

The user experience – as consumers look to ‘cord shave’ and rely more on over-the-top (OTT) services, providers need to ensure the best customer experience in terms of quality, content and overall user experience. Initiatives like Comcast’s  X User Experience and ARRIS’s own Whole Home Solution and DreamGallery™ offerings ensure the service provider experience stays ahead of the pure OTT experience.

Wireless transmission of high bit rate video in the home – consumers love wireless technology and the flexibility it offers and as our set-top devices become more connected, this connection needs to be as reliable as a wired connection. WiFi will be a key factor as more client devices appear in our homes.

Simplifying the consumer viewing experience – with a bewildering array of connected devices and multiple ways to access content, it can overwhelm consumers who just want a simple means of interacting with their entertainment services in a way that is affordable and incorporates the highest quality experience. Constant vigilance from service providers will be necessary to make the user experience rich but simple – something we think we understand well at ARRIS.

How is ARRIS looking to drive The ‘Connected Experience’ e.g. the ARRIS gateway?

ARRIS offers everything you need to provide a high quality and robust solution with routing capability for the home. We get the consumer connected quickly and reliably to all home and connected devices.  We also strive to add innovative new interfaces like ZigBee® as we know consumers are becoming increasingly connected. Finally, we pride ourselves on our test and interoperability procedures as well as our huge existing population of gateway devices connected to hundreds of millions of end devices.

What does ARRIS predict the entertainment system will look like in 3-5 years’ time?

People talk a lot about moving to a completely unicast world but the statistics still don’t support this – real-time content is still something that people want to watch live for the most part. There is no one-size fits all trend, but the movement towards accessibility of all content types on any device will continue to grow and simplify – to a point where we will wonder what all the fuss was about when we could first pause and resume across devices! Also, we’ll see a new interaction with entertainment services – new viewing styles like “binge watching” will rise alongside people still wanting to catch the news or sports events live, as well as familiar watching such as viewing late night shows late at night.

What or who inspires you on a day to day basis?

To me it’s not about being happy that we can download a full DVD of content in under a minute with emerging Gbps DOCSIS networks, it’s about challenging why we can’t do it in 2 seconds. I’m inspired by how technology has changed so much in such a short time. If this pace continues we may actually reach a no wait/no latency world in my lifetime – or find new services that will demand even more bandwidth. Both are exciting prospects and if we can keep our focus on using technology, and not being used by it, then this new world of low latency interaction will help us multi-task less and give us more time to create and learn things.

If you’re at Cable Congress, check out Charles’ panel on the changing role of the STB on March 14. See you in Amsterdam.

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We’ve been busy this year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things to talk about! This industry changes on an almost a weekly (or is it daily?) basis. And we feel passionately about what’s happening and what it means to our customer and the consumer. Ultimately, that’s what we’re all about – enabling tomorrow’s entertainment and communications experiences.

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The Future of TV

The Future of TV is complicated.

The reason, however, is simple: we’re consuming more content on more devices.

For consumers, that often can mean a frustrating experience trying to navigate and access it all on one screen or another. But for service providers, the issue is much deeper…

Multiscreen and new IP-based services need the bandwidth and hardware to power these experiences, but they also need systems and software to integrate and unify them across the entire device ecosystem—all so that we can enjoy the “any” experiences that we want.

Our research shows that 55% of Americans are now multiscreen consumers. For this growing population, the home ecosystem consists of a variety of different screens, connected devices, and content.

That’s a lot of different people using a lot of different screens in a lot of different places. How can we solve this broad challenge of complexity and usability?

We’re seeing an influx of new devices that are trying to answer this question, from Microsoft’s new Xbox to a rumored AppleTV reboot at WWDC. These devices have expanded beyond their original scope of features to address our broad range of activities. But as connected and fully-featured as they are, these devices are still just devices, and don’t have the systems of content, networks, software, and more that’re required to deliver communications and entertainment across multiple screens.

That’s that domain of service providers, and that’s where ARRIS comes in…

We see The Future of TV as having two distinct challenges: simplifying complexity and mastering the complete multiscreen ecosystem—from devices, to content rights, bandwidth, video delivery, and more.

By bringing together the innovation, talent, and product lines of both ARRIS and Motorola Home, we’re in a unique position to help service providers to solve the problems of complexity and end-to-end delivery.

Our combined solutions are making multiscreen simple for consumers and transforming the way that service providers, programmers, and vendors are addressing its many demands through innovation in the cloud, network, and home.

See how we’re demonstrating these capabilities @The Cable Show, Booth #2433