Living with the Future – 4 Predictions for Home Connectivity in 2017

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Charles Cheevers, CTO, CPE, ARRIS

Predictions serve a dual purpose. On one hand, they challenge us to fulfill the promise of new offerings and innovation. On the other, they excite us about the kinds of technologies and breakthroughs that might make it into our homes this year.

For 2017, I am predicting the potential for several advancements in the home that could help enable some of the latest ‘headline’ consumer technologies, such as IoT and VR etc. Here are four key innovations that I can see happening this year:

Gateways get companions and open the smart home as new classes of home device emerge

Single gateways and routers have done a great job creating connections for Wi-Fi devices in the home. As broadband speeds to the home increase, this needs to be reflected inside the home. The gateway is set to get some help from Wi-Fi extenders increasing range and performance to support services like 4K video over Wi-Fi.

These new devices offer both challenge and opportunity:

  • Challenge – to create better Wi-Fi and not act as interference. We solve this with software in the devices, supported by the cloud – to ensure best channel use and make sure the home clients are on the right access point, roaming quickly across them.
  • Opportunity – to add functionality to devices deeper inside the home and in rooms where connectivity is most needed. This could be, for example, IoT low-power radios to support smart device onboarding; or voice input and audio output – allowing the device to ‘double up’ as a wireless connectivity point and a smart assistant.

Adding functionality will enable service providers to leverage their position in the home and converge Wi-Fi capex spend with new IoT and smart assistant opportunities – it makes economic sense to deploy aggregated services.

In addition, increasing the footprint of extenders could also support emerging 60GHz applications, such as fast-sync to mobile devices and low latency un-tethered VR, that require in-room high bandwidth.

Service providers can take advantage of this device demarcation to add connectivity features in an all-in-one device. The natural evolution is to a future home architecture with a single connectivity device per room.

Shared Spectrum and convergence to 5G – experimentation and first reference architectures will emerge

As we move towards 5G, combining multiple wireless technologies into a seamless experience will be key. Consumers are only interested in the best access to the service or content on whatever device.

This is driving convergence of wireless connectivity at the device level to embrace connectivity for IoT, gigabit broadband, roaming, voice, VR, AR – independent of the physical layer. And, the lines between unlicensed and licensed spectrum-based devices are set to blur – more than the LTE + Wi-Fi capabilities in devices today.

New approaches to spectrum use – e.g., CBRS shared spectrum and frequency control via Cloud Spectrum Access Solutions as well as the aspirations of 5G – mean that service providers that don’t own LTE spectrum will be able to offer a seamless and robust solution across macro and pico wireless solutions.

We envisage a new class of home cell that is Wi-Fi dominant in the home and supports the 3.5GHz CBRS band promise over LTE – enabling the best of Wi-Fi and LTE within the home. The service provider augments the reach of 3.5GHz LTE with 5GHz Wi-Fi, and uses local wired connection for backhaul.

While mmWave promises point-to-multipoint transmissions at 10Gbp to get into the home (in good line of sight conditions), the 5G signal will be converted to Wi-Fi or sub 6GHz LTE inside the home. Solutions that terminate and retransmit, convert, and translate will be key for this multi-hop connection

Providers to investigate VR for live TV - testing the blended experience

The introduction of mmWave connectivity at 60GHz could provide more than 25Gbps of bandwidth wirelessly around the home – proving a platform for next-gen services such as untethered VR/AR.

VR/AR presents a number of challenges to begin considering:

  • Short-term – to support the large file downloads of gaming and graphic centric VR/AR experiences
  • Mid-term – to support low-volume VR experiences from the ‘best seat in the stadium’
  • Long-term – to support a million unique streams from the stadium – requiring new technologies and improvements in event IT infrastructure. Today live VR generates 6-10Mbps per view at 1080p levels and this will increase significantly with 4K level transmissions.

So long-term, VR/AR may not just be the prerogative of the gaming community. The industry is experimenting now to find the best blend of VR/AR and TV experiences.

The TV experience offers multi-camera views, helping the viewer find the best action at a live event. Adding VR/AR allows the users themselves take control of the camera. The ability to switch between live and user-controlled experiences will be an area to watch over the coming years as VR/AR tries to make its mark. TV producers are already experimenting with VR segments of scheduled live shows – allowing the viewer to continue immersing themselves after the live show has ended

Virtualization will increase hardware capabilities – not make CPE hardware redundant.

The predicted demise of hardware is not happening – the reality is that software partitioning between device and cloud is changing. When software has shifted to the cloud – there will still be a gateway and a set-top – very similar to today and with new features like IoT, Smart Assistant and 60GHz

Virtualization for vCPE is about the repartition of software features – allowing new services that require low latency knowledge of the home to be handled in the cloud. This enables rapid development cycles; development once in the cloud versus multiple times on different platforms and best in class services. For example, the best parental control solution could run on all platforms from a single cloud instance instead of trying to develop for all unique platforms.

Where does this leave CPE? On one hand there is less need to add more CPU capability if the service can be processed in the cloud. On the other, there are services that should stay in the CPE – for example; to benefit from low latency; to ensure optimal graphics performance or for the best wireless connectivity – guaranteeing a clear future for physical CPE.

ARRIS @ CES 2017

ces-2017-logoCES is our annual showcase for ARRIS’s vision of tomorrow’s consumer entertainment and communications experiences. It brings 170,000 of the most important industry executives, media and influencers to Las Vegas for meetings and demonstrations of the future. And that makes it a very important event for setting the stage for the rest of the year.

This year, we’re addressing security for all devices connected to the network including IOT, seamless services at the intersection of a new convergence of IoT devices inside and outside the home and more. Our demonstrations focus on the experiences that have come to exemplify those trends, including The Connected Home, Consumer Experience Management, IP Video Experiences, and HEVC Video Delivery. These experiences bring the spotlight to our solutions for 4K and IP video delivery, as well as managed platforms for user experience and the connected home.

Get ready for an exciting CES, and follow us on Twitter for the latest from the show!

ARRIS channel partner helps island operator think big about the future

Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean, close to Mauritius. Despite its modest population of just 850,000 people, the country has the same broadband supply and demand challenges as markets many times larger.

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Reunicable is a leading Multi-System Operator (MSO) operating on the island and delivers a triple play offering through its local brand Zeop. The company wanted to extend its network, offering gigabit broadband speeds to all its customers. As a result, it needed world-leading solutions to stay competitive with the other providers on the island and prepare for the future. Working with ARRIS channel partner Lucas Telecom to advise on design, deploy and integrate the technology, Zeop has now implemented the new solution, anchored by the ARRIS E6000 Converged Edge Router.

The implementation was hassle-free and enables Zeop customers to freely use bandwidth-intensive applications with low latency. Zeop’s services are now positioned well against Réunion’s other operators, thanks to ARRIS technology, but it also has the capability to grow its revenue with new services and differentiate itself in the marketplace in years to come.

Read more about Zeop’s story here

For more information about ARRIS channel partners, click here

TV is better and more personal than ever

Today is the 20th anniversary of World Television Day – a day that celebrates the medium of TV and the power it has to enrich lives.

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TV is not just TV anymore

We love TV – especially the way it has changed over the last two decades. TV isn’t just TV anymore. It offers more choice, personalized content and formats than ever.

Twenty years ago, many of us began to make the transition from analog to digital – and saw a whole new world of entertainment possibilities emerge. The picture quality improved, sound was enhanced, and more importantly, it set the scene for many new features that could be introduced.

HD brought added realism to visual content, while DVRs and on-demand content are now invaluable – we no longer need to plan our day around our favorite shows. We no longer have to accept compromise when we settle in to spend an evening in front of the TV.

TV has been democratized

But perhaps the biggest change in TV over the last 20 years is the way it has been democratized. YouTube launched in 2005, and suddenly we began to see ourselves onscreen. It’s a medium that allowed us to become generators of our own content, with a global audience of a billion users to share it with. What’s more, YouTube gave us access to a wealth of information on a wide range of topics in a way that was previously difficult to view. It’s a departure from the days when just a few major broadcasters had the power to beam visuals into our living rooms.

TV now caters for more diverse interests and niche audiences are better engaged than ever. And when you add the ability for OTT services such as Netflix to provide recommendations based on tastes and viewing habits, we can now build our own viewing schedules.

TV is everywhere

TV has also been democratized in the way it’s consumed. It now lives on our mobiles, our tablets – and who knows where else we’ll be watching in the future? As such, content is being streamed in more places than ever. We can enjoy entertainment on our own terms, breaking free from the one screen philosophy that defined a generation.

TV has always been about great entertainment and opening a window to the rest of the world. That will never change. What will change, however, is that it will better mirror our tastes, lifestyles and consumption habits. The TV no longer works in isolation – it is enhanced by connectivity in our homes and on our devices. And with innovation taking place by the technology providers, broadcasters, program makers and service providers, there’s much more to be excited about for the next 20 years.

Happy World Television Day!

 

Announcing ARRIS’s New R&D Center in Bangalore, India

Today, we opened a new, multi-million dollar R&D and Operations center in Bangalore, India, dedicated to innovation for our customers worldwide.

The Ulsoor, Bangalore site – which houses a state-of-the-art lab and testing facilities – becomes ARRIS’s largest global development center outside of the US. It’s an IP creation hub that unites world-class engineers from the former ARRIS and Pace sites in the region (following ARRIS’s January 2016 acquisition of Pace). Now, they can more easily collaborate on the technology to drive the next era of broadband and video experiences—from Gigabit Internet to 4K TV, and Wi-Fi.

Our Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bob Stanzione, inaugurated the facility with Kiran Gadi, Country Head and VP, Engineering for ARRIS India, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning.

Take a look at our photos from the ceremony:

 

 

 

 

 

80 years of high-definition television

Television tower at Alexandra Place in 1936

Television tower at Alexandra Palace in 1936

Today marks 80 years since the BBC began the world’s first regular high-definition television service. This was a far cry from what we call HD today – in 1936 it was an increase from 30 TV lines, to 240, which was the old measure of such resolution. Today’s variety of specifications, from HD, to UHD, 4K and even 8K reflect not only the rate of change but the choice available to us.

And through so much change, TV has remained at the center of our content consumption. The Video Advertising Bureau just released findings that TV still commands 89% of viewing time, demonstrating that even with the penetration of mobile and tablet devices, many still gather around a TV to be entertained and informed.

From here, the future looks bright (which we say without a sense of irony given the promise of things such as HDR). Not only are the screens getting better, but access to so much great, high quality, content has never been better. TV budgets are now rivaling that of movies, with HBO’s latest offering, Westworld reportedly costing $US100m for the first season, and $US25m for the pilot. Netflix, which is not a TV network in the traditional sense and just shy of 20 years old, will reportedly spend billions on original content in the next year.

For ARRIS, it’s all about delivery of that content and onto the screens in the way it was intended by the producers. The viewer needs to see the effects laboriously pored over without pixelation; to experience a heartfelt monologue delivered without interruption by buffer; and have the next episode load before their significant other has time to say “Haven’t we watched enough episodes tonight?” To achieve this, consumers need the right devices in their home, distributing a fast and reliable service on behalf of the operator. Otherwise, they’ll just switch off.

Here’s to 80 years of high-definition television, and to many more.

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