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.

Countdown to Cable Congress: Q&A with Ayham Al-Banna

It’s that time of the year again…Cable Congress is just around the corner, and ARRIS Systems Architect Ayham Al-Banna will be on stage discussing the evolution of HFC. We caught up Ayham to get his insights on HFC, future trends…and even what new industry terms we should add to our vocabulary to show we’re in the know.

We often hear about key trends including ‘on-demand,’ ‘connected life,’ ‘ultra-fast,’ and ‘multiscreen.’ In your mind, what are a couple of trends that will become louder and more discussed in 2014?

One trend to watch is the “snappiness” on the Internet, which describes the rate at which the needed information is provided in a short burst. You’ll also hear more and more about “interactive gadgets,” such as your connected refrigerator notifying you that you are low on tomatoes or your pantry asking you to bring coffee beans on your way home.

What are some of the biggest technological advancements driving new and improved services for the consumer?

When we discuss new technologies driving new and improved services, it’s essential to mention advancements within Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), DOCSIS 3.1, digital optics, remote gadgets and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). With that being said, the consumer is indeed the focus of our innovation and delivering a better user experience. True, people are consuming more media on more devices in more places, but we’re also seeing increased demand for timely and relevant experiences, better content recommendations, and, of course, higher-quality programming. These desires speak directly to what ARRIS does best.

What is one of the biggest technological advancements that may be transparent to the average consumer?

Service providers have a multitude of technologies that are transparent to the consumer surrounding faster services and a better user experience. For example, the average consumer might not know whether service providers are using integrated or remote CCAP as well as DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1) technologies to create a more seamless user experience. CCAP and D3.1 are quickly transforming the consumer’s experience in a very positive way, and they will only make things that much better in the years ahead.

How does an organization like ARRIS embed innovation into its culture?

ARRIS continuously keeps its engineers at all levels in the company tied to the newly-evolving technologies. To ensure engineers are staying ahead of industry trends, groups within the company get together frequently to research topic and provide monthly tutorial that are accessible to everyone. ARRIS also encourages engineers to explore new ideas and prototype them by providing the necessary tools and resources.

What keeps you passionate about this industry?

The continuous innovation in this industry amazes me. This industry evolved to offer people more affordable, faster and better services. I have the opportunity to see the direct impact of what we research, architect, design and build on people’s lives. I am proud of this work, especially as I see the positive impact it has in different fields from hospitals to hotels to connected cars to connected homes. This industry is addictive!

Make sure to stop by Ayham’s panel on the evolution of HFC on March 14 if you’re at Cable Congress. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of December 2

It’s that time of the year again… Time to celebrate holiday traditions and reconnect with family and friends, making a great theme for this week’s news. GigaOM shared that telcos and cable companies added more than 500,000 US broadband subscribers in the third-quarter of 2013 alone, largely due to consumers’ usage of video chat and mobile applications.

This week, Multichannel News shared that South Korea’s SK Broadband will use our E6000 Converged Edge Router to help power its upcoming 1-Gig service. Looking ahead to 2014, Investor’s Business Daily recently profiled ARRIS, discussing our role in supporting future opportunities for cable and telco TV companies by leveraging IPTV to deliver video and data through the most modern set-top devices.

Additionally, AllThingsD shared a new report from Nielsen suggesting Americans are watching more TV than ever, with increases in the number of viewers watching live TV and timeshifted TV. Finally, Business2Consumer offered projections for Social TV, noting that 2014 will be a year of more exact data and innovation in the field.

What are you watching for this next year? Let us know in the comments!

  1. The U.S. now has over 83 million broadband subscribers (Nov. 26) By Om Malik, GigaOM: Large phone and cable companies added nearly half-a-million broadband subscribers during the third quarter of 2013. The U.S. seems to be on its way to 100 million subscribers, and Comcast seems to be the big winner of the broadband sweepstakes.
  2. SK Broadband Taps Arris For Planned 1-Gig Service (Dec. 4) By Jeff Baumgartner, Multichannel News: SK Broadband of South Korea said it will tap the Arris E6000 Converged Edge Router to help it power a coming 1 Gbps broadband service and other “enhanced entertainment experiences.”
  3. TV’s Next Big Thing Turns Up Growth For Arris Group (Dec. 4) By Marie Beerens, Investor’s Business Daily: Arris Group, an equipment provider to cable and telco television, is poised to benefit as those industries increasingly pipe programming to TVs by Internet protocol instead of more traditional means.
  4. Surprise! You’re Watching More TV Than Ever. (Dec. 4) By Peter Kafka, AllThingsD: No one watches TV anymore. You don’t, and no one you know does, and it’s just a matter of time before the TV Industrial Complex folds in on itself and disappears. Except … it turns out that people are. Still. Watching. TV.
  5. Social TV: In 2013, Improved Reporting Accuracy and Increased Growth Internationally (Dec. 1) By Ron Mwangaguhunga, Business2Community: According to the recent report “Social TV Market: Global Advancements Forecasts and Analysis (2012-2017)“, the social TV ecosystem is expected to grow from $151.14 billion in 2012 to $256.44 billion by 2017. Further, the pace of spending for TV ad dollars is slowing, while mobile video ad growth is rising.

Welcome to the New ARRIS Everywhere Blog

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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