Light Reading

Cable's WiFi Video Attack

Craig Leddy
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Craig Leddy

Lately, America's TV screens have been filled with marionette people who get tangled in their own wires during commercials touting the benefits of wireless set-top boxes (STBs) by DirecTV.

From the cable camp, new wireless gateways are emerging that could make the puppet people even more jealous. The boxes, initially displayed in prototype form at The Cable Show 2014, offer advanced WiFi 802.11ac throughput on dual-spectrum bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz) to deliver IP video around the home.

According to a new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, "Look Ma, No Wires: New Wi-Fi Gateways Take Video Airborne," the wireless video gateways will enable cable providers to establish a powerful IP platform for cloud DVR, branded user interfaces, video on demand (VoD) and linear TV on thin client receivers and any WiFi-connected devices.

In addition, the gateways promote cable strategies to combine residential WiFi hotspots to create community WiFi networks, which could eventually lead to distribution of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, wireless buildouts and perhaps even a "WiFi first" mobile phone play, the report says.

The wireless-centric boxes are the latest in a line of hybrid gateways. Initially designed to combine TV and Internet access into one box, the early gateway models have included multiple tuners, a large DVR hard drive, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, MPEG2/MPEG4 transcoding, and other bells and whistles.

By comparison, the wireless models are slimmed-down versions of the über boxes. They shift network intelligence to the cable cloud, so that MSOs can easily add or update branded program guides and applications, such as Comcast's X1 operating system and Time Warner Cable's Hosted Navigation platform. The boxes are also a visible sign of cable's ongoing adoption of the reference design kit (RDK), the system-on-chip (SoC)-rooted open source software platform for new devices.

Wireless video gateways can be used to drive incremental revenue through equipment charges or subscription service fees, as AT&T, DirecTV and Dish Network are seeking to do with wireless STBs. But Heavy Reading says their real value for cable providers is to retain video subscribers, upsell higher-speed Internet tiers and spread cloud-based applications. And they can help MSOs to shut up those dopey marionettes.

Is WiFi good enough to support cable's wireless video aspirations? Compared to cellular, WiFi is an imperfect, unlicensed transmission medium, subject to signal interruptions and inadequacies, the report says. But the wireless industry, with input from cable companies and organizations such as CableLabs, is pushing for better spectrum utilization, next-generation hotspot enhancements and the gigabit-level speeds offered by dual-band 802.11ac.

Arris sports an advanced wireless video gateway initially aimed for deployment by Comcast; Pace and Technicolor offers wireless options; and Cisco has developed what it calls unified gateways. Other manufacturers are offering gateways, advanced STBs or IP clients that support unique strategies. The report includes profiles of 12 manufacturers that serve the US cable market.

— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

Look Ma, No Wires: New Wi-Fi Gateways Take Video Airborne, a 19-page report, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit:

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Blogger
8/13/2014 | 12:05:50 PM
Re: Look Ma, No Wires
Yes, cable and other providers must ensure a high quality of experience (QoE) when using WiFi for video. It's tricky inside the home, even trickier if they go outside the home. Emerging WiFi enhancements promise to improve capabilities for video.   
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/12/2014 | 8:58:19 PM
Look Ma, No Wires
What seems like a great idea may or may not work well. With all those pesky microwaves cooking popcorn and other RF interference, the infrequent interruptions may very well prove just too much for some video viewers. Wireless is great for convenience but the customers may just vote no if there's too much viewing irritation.
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
As more speed and capacity is built into the RAN to accommodate video growth and other new services, operators will need to rethink the principles of backhaul operation.
Many cable companies are moving toward gigabit Internet speeds and finding that rolling it out requires some balancing to realize return on investment whilst appeasing customers.
Following HKT's acquisition of CSL, the Hong Kong carrier partnered with Huawei on network integration and to supply a future unified network.
As cable operators boost the quality of their WiFi networks to carrier-grade levels, they must also boost the quality of their customers' experience.
As telecom operators dig deeper into the NFV and SDN worlds, they are finding that with more virtualization comes more security risks. That opens up opportunity for security improvements and new services.
From The Founder
Light Reading's conference in November will attempt to answer all of the big questions around white box networks. No pressure...
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE in Budapest ITU 2015

10|13|15   |   03:26   |   (0) comments

ZTE Chief Architect David Huo discusses the company's progress on the 5G front.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Close-up on ConfD

10|12|15   |   10.21   |   (0) comments

Tail-f's Renée Robinson-Stromberg tells Steve Saunders about the powerful ConfD management interface.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Women in Comms: Highlights From Dallas

10|12|15   |   2:23   |   (1) comment

The best soundbites, quotes and words of wisdom from leading women from Intel, AT&T, Verizon and Genband at our recent WiC breakfast in Dallas.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
NetNumber Founder on Managing Signaling Control

10|12|15   |   6:36   |   (0) comments

NetNumber Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Doug Ranalli describes the essential complexity of real-world signaling-control and how NetNumber enables carriers to bring signaling-control "under-control". Learn why virtualization alone isn't the answer.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon Gets Proactive on App Performance

10|12|15   |   04:50   |   (0) comments

SDN is turning traditional service models around to allow Verizon to measure and deliver performance at the application layer. As Shawn Hakl, VP of enterprise networking and managed solutions for Verizon, explains, the carrier had to develop new skill sets and change some of its internal operations, but the payoff was happier enterprise customers.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (1) comment

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (1) comment

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
Dell Buys EMC for $67B in Biggest Tech Deal Ever
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/12/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Think NFV is just about virtualization? Think again!

Network architects are learning that there's a lot more to the technology than first thought – more complexity, that is; but also, more potential benefits.

On May 29th 1 PM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM, HP Communications Solutions Business at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!