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 Demonstrations at SCTE

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By Jonathan Ruff, Senior Director, Technical Marketing, ARRIS

Several big questions are top-of-mind for every service provider heading to SCTE next week:

  • How do we deliver Gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 services to our subscribers?
  • How can we make the Gigabit connected home more consistent with Wi-Fi, prepare for UHD over Wi-Fi, and create new services?
  • How do we make the Customer Experience more repeatable, reliable, and less reactive?
  • How can we implement a planned, evolutionary approach to an all-IP architecture with minimal impact to our subscribers?

ARRIS’s product managers and professional services experts will be answering these questions and more in daily demonstrations in our booth (#1074) under the following topics:

Networks

Our Gigabit Solution Wall will highlight our E6000 CER’s flexible deployment options and support for CCAP and Gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 services to subscribers over today’s HFC networks at distances of +70 miles. The E6000 provides multiple paths to bring fiber all the way to the home or premises, with hardware and software updates, integration of Remote PHY and Full-Duplex DOCSIS, and the ability to support Fiber Deeper technologies—like RFoG, Node PON and EPON.

CPE 

Our industry-leading portfolio of DOCSIS 3.1 gateways and broadband devices will be on display, showcasing its Gigabit and multi-Gigabit capabilities.

We’ll demonstrate our flagship Touchstone TG3462 smart home gateway—our most powerful gateway to-date—downloading movies and Virtual Reality experiences while distributing 4K video streams to our latest Wi-Fi UHD HEVC set-tops. It can deliver over 5Gbps of data around the home, with four GigE ports and an 8×8 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio.

We’ll also showcase our comprehensive range of routers and WiFi extenders, along with new management capabilities, like ARRIS’s Assurance solutions and in-home user management features. And we’ll be demonstrating CPE function virtualization, which enables new levels of scalability, cost-efficiency and performance.

In our Intelligent Gateway Area, you can learn about our gateways’ new home network management features, IoT capabilities, and support for new services and applications.

We’ll also have our portfolio of video set-top devices on display—demonstrating 4K UHD HEVC video delivered over 802.11ac Wi-Fi, DVR and compact set-top functionality for whole-home solutions, support for RDK, and a range of leading User Experiences including TiVo, Espial G4, and X1 Syndication.

Future of TV

Our video product teams will be demonstrating how the ARRIS Cloud Video Delivery Platform—coupled with our ME7000 encoder/transcoder for advanced TV formats—can enable a phased approach to the evolution to IP video. You can learn how to build on VOD and nDVR capabilities and how multicast ABR can enable a bandwidth optimized managed video service for linear TV services to multiscreen devices.

Customer Experience Management

Management of the subscriber experience is paramount to driving higher NPS (Net Promoter Scores). ARRIS will be demonstrating three tool systems designed to improve NPS: Access Network Management, Field Service Management, and Home Network Management. These tools enable a range of assurance capabilities—from monitoring access network trends and remediating issues before they affect the consumer experience, to providing integrated tools for both technicians and subscribers to manage the home network.

We look forward to meeting you at SCTE. Check out presentations from our industry experts, catch Bob Stanzione, our Executive Chairman, at the opening panel session on Tuesday, September 27th, watch ARRIS’s sponsored First Robotics team: The Firebirds, compete immediately afterwards in the Central Lounge.

And don’t forget to drop by our booth (#1074) to get ARRIS’s answers to your most important industry questions!

ARRIS @ 2016 NAB Show

This week, we’re in Las Vegas for the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show Header-960x200to showcase ARRIS’s vision for the future of video delivery. NAB brings together more than 100K industry professionals to talk about what tomorrow’s entertainment experience will look like and how it will be delivered. Our booth (#SU1916) is focused on demonstrating the crucial evolution in network and CPE technology that’s enabling those experiences in the new connected home.

Many of the world’s leading service providers use our advanced video compression and multiscreen technology to deliver next-generation entertainment to their subscribers. We’ll have several of our most advanced solutions on display, including the DSR-7403 HEVC Transcoder IRD, ME-7000 compressed converged platform, and industry-leading SECUREMEDIA® content protection solutions.

If you’re attending NAB, make sure to catch the following sessions with Dr. Sean McCarthy, Fellow at ARRIS:

Sunday, April 17
11:00 am – 11:30 am PT: Smart Bandwidth Sharing for Multi-Program Content Distribution; Room S219

Monday, April 18

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm PT: Understanding the Viewer Experience when Designing Ultra HD Services; Room S219

ARRIS Celebrates Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. It’s a reminder of our impact on the environment every other day of the earthday-304year.

At ARRIS, we’re committed to minimizing our global carbon footprint and energy use through environmentally responsible business operations. We call it “eco-innovation.” And it’s the way that we approach building better products everyday. But we’re also working to ensure that millions of people around the world who use ARRIS products in their homes are also minimizing their impact on the environment.

The set-top devices that they use to enjoy their content, their way, is the focus of our efforts this Earth Day. ARRIS is a leading manufacturer of energy efficient set-tops. Most of our set tops meet industry standards for energy efficiency and have power-saving features. And we work closely with the world’s leading service providers to constantly improve the equipment standards for energy efficiency.

Today, we are showcasing our latest set-top devices for Verizon FiOS at their Dallas, TX facility. These new devices include theVMS1100 Media Server and IPC1100-P2 IP Client set-tops, which improve whole home energy efficiency by 20% over current multi-room DVR configurations.

Through efforts like these, we’re reducing our collective impact through better, more energy-efficient devices. And while we still have a long way to go, we’re committed to eco-innovation that does its part every time someone tunes in to watch TV.

How are you impacting the environment? We’d like to hear in the comments below

ARRIS and Charter Announce Joint Venture to Acquire ActiveVideo

ARRIS and Charter – with a shared vision – joined forces today to acquire ActiveVideo.

ActiveVideo developed CloudTV™, the only cloud-based software platform that enables service providers, content aggregators, and consumer electronic (CE) manufacturers to rapidly deploy new services – such as next-gen UIs, online content and interactive advertising – by virtualizing CPE functions in the cloud.

A new JV company was created to own ActiveVideo and operates independently of ARRIS and Charter. ARRIS will be the sales channel for ActiveVideo’s CloudTV platform. ARRIS’s service provider relationships, global scale and installed base of CPE will support the accelerated adoption of CloudTV – giving CloudTV the clout to reach a worldwide customer base.

ARRIS will be the majority owner of ActiveVideo, with a 65% stake in the JV. Charter will participate as a minority owner. Jeff Miller will continue to lead ActiveVideo as CEO. The transaction – which is subject to customary closing conditions – is expected to close within the next 30 days.

Charter and ARRIS came together due to our shared vision for enabling an all-IP network and the software-defined TV experience that will allow our industry to quickly move in response to subscriber trends. For Charter, this represents its commitment to the success of the CloudTV platform and its confidence in CloudTV’s value proposition for customers and consumers around the world. For ARRIS this represents a compelling opportunity to partner with a strategic customer and expansion of our cloud portfolio with CloudTV, a disruptive cloud technology already adopted by Tier 1 customers. Together, we see the opportunity as an ideal way to accelerate the adoption of CloudTV’s innovative platform that enables the delivery of powerful consumer and subscriber experiences….quickly and with lower CapEx.

This is another example of ARRIS’s ongoing legacy of collaboration with customers to Invent the Future.

Stay tuned here for more updates in the coming weeks.

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