How multi-screen, hybrid OTT content will drive Next Gen STBs in India

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As India moves towards the digitization of cable TV, there is a huge opportunity in front of multi service operators to better engage with their customers and do more with their network investments.

With cable TV digitization in place, operators will have the opportunity to build two-way networks that will give subscribers new interactive services built on new age set top box infrastructure and next generation modems.

Delivering the technological edge, Broadcom has a dedicated R&D staff based in India that works on innovative yet cost effective solutions tailored to the Indian market. Rajiv Kapur, Managing Director, Broadcom India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com on the way STB industry is moving ahead.

Rajiv-Kapur-Broadcom

Q: What is your focus in the set top box segment?

According to recent industry reports, the Indian television industry is anticipated to grow at a 15% CAGR from 2013 to 2018, driven by a gradual acceleration in pay TV penetration and the government’s mandate on digitisation of cable TV in India (CII-PwC India Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014 report).

As a leader in set-top box (STB) technology, Broadcom sees real opportunity in the Indian market to drive digitization in the country with tailored solutions. Broadcom’s diverse portfolio diversity includes cable, direct-to-home (DTH), terrestrial, IPTV, cable modems, Ethernet over Coax (EoC), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and passive optical networking (PON) products, among others.

Specific to the set-top box market in India, Broadcom offers integrated single systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) for ultra-low cost standard definition (SD) MPEG-2 zappers with a turnkey middleware stack, as well as entry-level high definition (HD) STBs to complement the range of solutions for India’s diverse market needs.

Q: What are some of the big trends that are likely to take this segment ahead? How does your organization help towards driving the technology ahead?

The Indian TV market has come a long way over the past 20 years, when a handful of channels were provided by a single government broadcaster to the entire country. The recent government-mandated changeover from analog broadcast to digital transmissions is one of the biggest factors to drive STB technology ahead. Other trends helping to evolve the technology landscape in India include the deregulation and subsequent increase of new operators offering TV upgrades. Combined, these factors are driving competition and new features that will entice consumers to re-think how they watch TV.

From a consumer standpoint, flexibility of content delivery is an emerging trend, as consumers look to view content while on the move and record programs to view at a later time on a host of devices. This paradigm shift in content consumption is supported by set-top boxes and over-the-top services, which can drive content delivery providers to create specific content streamed through selective service providers.

On the operator side, there is a higher desire to adopt latest compression standards, from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 and MPEG-4 to HEVC. Higher resolution formats are being adopted earlier in the product lifecycle with a desire to drive hybrid OTT services directly to the homes. There is a positive progression to drive HD content to end customers.

Q: We also see the emergence of OTT set top boxes in some select geographies. How do you look at such trends in India?

Although a subscriber’s ability to view high-quality HD content from their home STB is a major advantage of India’s digitzation efforts, the benefits extend further to additional features and applications that can run on the same STBs. Multi-room or multi-screen experiences, as well as hybrid OTT content, will all bring new higher-end STBs. Below are some examples of use cases that we expect in India:

Mobile to TV mirroring: Miracast is an industry standard led by the Wi-Fi Alliance to standardise how Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, TVs, laptops and tablets establish direct device-to-device connections using Wi-Fi speeds. Use cases of Miracast include smartphone-to-TV screen display via an STB for displaying visual content, playing music, and gaming.

Multi-screen experiences: New transcoding technologies in subscriber’s set-top boxes allow operators to reformat video in real time in the home, making content available for alternate screens available in the home network. This enables some new use cases, such as live broadcasts transmitted to smaller screens, enabling a second screen in the same room, a ‘picture out of picture’ use case where the child could be watching a second show using a tablet and a headset. Another use case would be to take video on the go; recorded shows could be securely loaded onto smaller mobile devices to allow catch-up of favourite shows while travelling.

Multi-room experiences: STBs can also include a client/server set-up with a primary STB serving multiple “thin clients” across the house. The benefits of this architecture include the ability to have a central home recording and a pool of tuners to serve the full home viewing needs of a family.

Q: What are some of the market drivers for growth of set top boxes in India? And how does your organization play a role here?

One of the key factors contributing to the growth of the STB market in India is the government’s mandate to shift analog television to digital. Digitization of the television industry creates a need for set-top boxes with every digital TV set. The estimated market in India today is well over 100 million sets and growing. Digitization requires a sophisticated head-end to be set up, which includes electronic equipment built on powerful, cost-efficient semiconductors. Additionally, operators now have the opportunity to build two-way networks that will give subscribers new interactive services built on new infrastructure and modems.

Broadcom has a dedicated R&D staff based in India that works on innovative yet cost effective solutions tailored to the Indian market. This India-based team also makes major contributions to hardware, chip and software design for emerging country solutions.

Q: What are the top challenges on the intake of set top boxes today? How can better growth be achieved?

The set-top box market in India today tends to reflect the size and segmentation of the country itself.  Issues such as physical cable infrastructure and servicing needs are unique challenges for the market in the region, in turn requiring high performance solutions that can protect against power and lightning surges common in India. With intelligent design, Broadcom has created solutions specifically for these physical and environmental changes specific to the region.

Q: How important is the STB segment for your organization? What kind of future product roadmap does your organization for this segment?

Broadcom has invested in both research and development in India, and will continue to bring innovative new products to the market. In addition to a focus on set-top boxes, which present an overall growth opportunity in the region, Broadcom is focusing on its integrated single SoC solutions to allow OEMs and ODMs to build higher performance, lower cost solutions. Specific to India, Broadcom offers a full suite of mid-market and high-end products for operators to offer more services.