Light Reading
CTO of Moto's Home division sees parallels between cable's journeys to digital TV and now to IP video – it'll be a step-laden grind

Cable's Long Path to IPTV Nirvana

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
9/8/2010
50%
50%

As David Grubb, the CTO of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s home business unit sees it, cable's migration to IP video will look a lot like its journey from analog TV to digital TV. That means it won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight.

In fact, cable's digital migration is still going on after more than 10 years. Most operators that claim to be all-digital got there by simulcasting all programming in the digital domain. But after reclaiming analog spectrum to apply toward video-on-demand, HDTV, and Docsis 3.0, many MSOs still offer a lifeline analog video tier, and that scenario may not change for many years to come.

Getting to this point took many years… and many steps. And Grubb thinks cable will go through a similarly step-laden process during its inexorable migration to IP video. Don't expect cable to go all U-verse with a quick flip of the switch.

"It [cable's digital transition] took many years, and we're really at the trailing edge of analog," Grubb tells Light Reading Cable.

In Grubb's estimation, cable can achieve IP video Nirvana in three key steps:

  1. Start with altering the user experience and TV interface by shifting to a Web-based architecture that allows for more rapid changes and innovation.
  2. Move IP video into the home network with multiroom DVRs that can speak the high-speed languages of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , WiFi, and possibly other platforms.
  3. Then comes the hard(er) part -- putting all cable services onto a common IP access network.


Grubb adds that cable should not rev up IP video just for the sake of doing it, by essentially replicating today's digital TV services on a new platform. "The move to IP is not just a slightly different way to enhance your digital offering," he says. "It really should be considered a new platform, just the way digital was considered a new platform." (See Video's 'Third Wave'.)

Breaking down the steps
That's why Grubb isn't exactly enamored with the idea of cable operators simulcasting all of their video services in IP right away. "It's a lot of work to deliver basically what the consumer is already getting today at a very high quality," he says.

Instead, he advocates that cable focus first on making the set-top navigation system more personalized and engaging, and just more Web-like. That includes better ways to navigate ever-growing video-on-demand (VoD) libraries and perhaps the addition of Internet-delivered content.

The second step, bridging IP video the home network, is also underway, though cable's still in the early stages of deployments. In fact, some are just starting to get off the ground this year. (See Comcast Launches Multi-Room DVR and Mediacom Rolls Whole-Home DVR.)

Grubb believes putting IPTV in the cable access network will be the most complex of the steps and will take the most time to complete, since MSOs already have millions of digital boxes in the field that can't speak a lick of IP, and massive legacy networks to feed them.

With that in mind, Grubb says hybrid cable boxes that can handle QAM (the old way) and IP will play a big role in the transition. "You'll get to a certain point when you're simulating everything [and] you start shipping IP-only boxes. Then, over time, operators can start to taper off the digital tiers, just like analog is being tapered off today."

Grubb suggests that at least a 16-channel downstream is needed for operators to start thinking about launching large tiers of IP video. (Most top-of-the-line Docsis 3.0 modems and gateways can bond eight downstream channels.)

Timing is everything
How rapidly cable takes each step will vary by the MSO, but Grubb believes operators will start to deliver IP video services to set-top boxes within the next couple of years. (Delivery to secondary devices such as iPads will, of course, start sooner than that.) (See Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad.)

But when will cable use IP as its primary delivery mechanism for video to the home? Don't hold your breath. Grubb guesses it won't happen for five to seven years, citing cable's massive digital legacy and the work that's required to shift all linear and on-demand content so it can be delivered to IP boxes and a new, underlying, video-optimized IP access network.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ycurrent
50%
50%
ycurrent,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:24:22 PM
re: Cable's Long Path to IPTV Nirvana


don't think existing conditional access technology will extend to IP video environments... even MOT acknowledges that it will be supporting multiple DRMs despite the SecureMedia acquisition.  Watch how far Irdeto has moved in this regard for supporting multi-screen IP video delivery.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:24:22 PM
re: Cable's Long Path to IPTV Nirvana


One thing that won't serve them as well (and maybe Cisco too) is if the transition to IP video allows cable ops to untwist  the vice they have on conditional access. It may give MSOs, at last, an oppotunity to go with other parties for video security. thought it won't surprise me to see Moto and Cisco both try to hold onto their position through a company like SecureMedia (which is now part of motorola) or by trying to adapt their existing CAs to a DRM environment. JB

apac_fiber
50%
50%
apac_fiber,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:24:22 PM
re: Cable's Long Path to IPTV Nirvana


Speaking from the division make money for Moto, changes/Innovation is not a good thing.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:24:20 PM
re: Cable's Long Path to IPTV Nirvana


 Good points. I still don't see them giving up on this very easily and try to maintain as much of thier duopoly position that they can muster. But guessing that Cisco and Moto are both glad that this transition won't happen overnight so they can figure out how to keep their lucrative positions or develop new biz that will replace what they stand to lose. JB 

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed