For years, 3D’s arduous trek from the friendly confines of theaters to the traditional environs of mainstream living rooms has been stalled by unfilled promises of advancing technologies, by exorbitant costs, and by lack of content. But mostly it’s been about the clunky glasses required to experience 3D.
Ten years after the transition from MPEG-2 to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, history is about to repeat itself with the arrival of HEVC, also known as H.265, the successor of H.264/MPEG AVC. The standard was approved in January, and just a few months later a live end-toend HEVC content delivery chain was demonstrated for the French Tennis Open event in early June 2013, providing tangible proof that HEVC is on a path toward commercial deployment.
One year after the Comcast Reference Design Kit (RDK) made its public debut at The Cable Show, the platform has more than lived up to its “service velocity” goal. In short, the RDK went from being a PowerPoint presentation at last year’s Cable Show, to a viable platform that is cutting down on development cycle for not only set-top boxes and gateways, but also applications.
For service providers, the challenges of multi-screen are no less daunting for being well known. It is a marvelously complex process to deliver video to an ever-expanding universe of devices running multiple major operating systems all with different screen sizes and supporting unique combinations of streaming formats and digital rights management (DRM) schemes.
As the industry is dismantling its video, voice and data silos, it is creating new opportunities for cable professionals to increase their value to their employers, their industry and themselves. By mastering the entire landscape of the network, service offerings and customers, the next-generation professional is able to drive deployment of high-quality, highly reliable services that are helping cable maintain its competitive edge.
As I write this, I have just returned from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the big air industry show called AirVenture. Two things impressed me about this experience that have relevance to the cable industry: the age of the population and what that industry is doing about insuring a future for itself.
In Chicago, the great fire of 1871 wiped out much of the business district, and the capitalists came running. The fire’s fury had produced an attractive, greenfield opportunity for building infrastructure in what was the world’s fastest growing city. Nearly two dozen electricity entrepreneurs competed to carve out operations in small delivery sectors.
Over the top services (OTT) are affecting the pay TV business. Maybe only a little, but measurably. In the second quarter AT&T and Verizon added video customers (233,000 and 140,000 respectively), but their gains do not even come close to offsetting the subscriber losses experienced by most of the top cable operators and both satellite providers.
To create the AutoHop functionality, Dish technicians in Cheyenne, Wyoming manually view Fox’s primetime programming each night and technologically mark the beginning and end of each commercial. The program content is not altered in any way. The electronically marked files are then uplinked in Wyo., and eventually transmitted to subscribers.
“Reverse retrans” might merit some consideration. The Time Warner Cable / CBS dispute merely underlines what everyone knows: the retransmission consent process is utterly out of control. Some policy wonks are suggesting the solution is to eliminate retrans rules altogether.
I’ve seen an interesting phenomenon related to the continual changes in the industry, the constant need to reduce cost and the desire to be more efficient. That is, that whatever we have now isn’t good enough, so we must buy something new to replace it.
File-based workflows are supplanting earlier, less integrated digital workflow architectures in cable plants everywhere. File-based environments streamline content production and delivery, a crucial benefit given proliferating end-user platforms and the diverse formats that support them.
Power is important. Can’t run a network business without it, right? Which would make power no different from, say, optical fiber, or QAMs, or provisioning systems. The difference is that in the last 18 months, power has started evolving into a topline criterion for MSOs.
While the cable industry has worked overtime to overcome the perception of poor customer service when it comes installs the stereotype still persists. With an increasingly competitive landscape, cable operators know they have to do a better job of keeping their subscribers happy while also improving their fulfillment operations to cut down on truck rolls.
HotSpot 2.0, which was recently re-named Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint by the Wi-Fi Alliance, has the potential to make a big impact on the mobile connectivity landscape. The new approach to public Wi-Fi access is aimed at greatly improving the Wi-Fi user experience. Part of the movement is a certification process for existing hotspots and technology.