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@ Cable-Tec Expo: Points to ponder on the IP migration pathway

Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:58pm
Mike Robuck

When it comes to IP video migration, there’s no one size fits all for cable operators, but there are plenty of options to consider.

Tuesday’s session “Great ways to migrate: Making the move to all-IP video” laid out some of those options for cable operators. Tom Gonder, Time Warner Cable’s chief architect, focused on three migration options for linear TV, which were hybrid set-top boxes with downloadable security, hybrid home gateways and multicast to HTTP conversion at the cable modem.

“The point is there’s no clear standout winner amongst the three,” he said. “What it comes down to is how fast do you want to go? No one is anxious to make the wrong move. Operators have different starting points. Some have SDV (switched digital video), some have DTAs (digital terminal adapters), so where they stand today on how they manage their spectrum is significant.

“Easy, gradual migration is the key, and pay close attention to your viewership.”

Motorola Mobility vice president of strategy and business development John Holobinko highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of using multicast or unicast streams. Accounting for which shows customers will view the most is hard to do based on one-time events, such as the Super Bowl, or a reoccurring event such as “America’s Got Talent.”

Holobinko said a hybrid unicast/multicast implementation looked to be the best option because it is consistent with the IP video vision of supporting multi-screen experiences and personalization of services, it makes efficient use of bandwidth because high-speed data and unicast ABR efficiently share bandwidth, and it enables rapid deployment across legacy DOCSIS 3.0 modems down to four channels without truck rolls.

Customers can also hook up IP devices directly via a wireless router because they are unicast, while IP set-top boxes can be linked via Ethernet cable.

Rounding out the panel, Arris’ Charles Cheevers, chief technology officer for CPE solutions, touted the benefits of combining the faster DOCSIS networks – which are expected to scale to 1 Gbps, and even 10 Gbps – and cloud-based services. Home gateways with 1 Gbps of wide area network capability are a customer premises equipment platform with a shelf life of well into 10 years, according to Cheevers.

In the meantime, IP video transition plans have to support some type of interim augmentation strategy for the legacy devices before going to a full-service gateway. Some cable operators may opt for a standalone transcoding device in a home for the customers that don’t want the full-service gateway.

While there are various home networking options floating about, Cheevers said the first MoCA-based mini gateways, which cost less because they don’t have CableCards, could connect to Smart TVs and IP set-top boxes before the full-service gateways are deployed.

With cable’s CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform), cable operators will be able to deliver the 1 Gbps network that will connect home networks to the cloud and enable HTML5 for better user experiences and interfaces, Cheevers said.

“The new weapon is faster speed on the IP network, and gateways with more memory can improve efficiencies of service delivery,” Cheevers said.

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