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DLNA extension enables multi-screen delivery through set-tops

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 1:00pm
Brian Santo

MSOs and other service providers will soon be able to deliver multi-screen content directly through set-top boxes, in addition to – or instead of – the broadband channel. The enabler will be the DLNA CVP-2 guidelines published today.

Service providers have long been able to securely distribute IP-based content through broadband networks and broadband routers and still maintain security for the content. Previously, secure multi-screen distribution of MPEG-based pay TV content delivered through the set-top was not possible.

While the prospect of creating a home network using a set-top/gateway is no doubt enticing, success will depend entirely on encouraging the participation of enough service providers and consumer electronics (CE) companies.

"DLNA’s new CVP-2 Guidelines provide the industry with a foundation to significantly enhance consumer enjoyment of premium content offerings from their service provider. Content providers' rights are preserved, devices will have greater functionality, and consumers will have greater viewing device options. This is a win for all stakeholders,” said Tom Lookabaugh, chief R&D officer, CableLabs. CableLabs is a contributing member in the DLNA group, contributing to the development of the technology.

As of now, few companies have publicly committed to using DLNA CVP-2 – even among the contributing members. In addition to CableLabs, they include Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable, Broadcom and Samsung.

That said, interest in the technology has begun to percolate. At the recent CES, companies that showed technology or demonstrated support for DLNA CVP-2 included ARM, Broadcom, Access, AwoX, JetHead, SiliconDust, Videon and ViXS Systems.

Joerg Eggink, product director at Access, said, “…we're already seeing very high levels of interest from our broadcast and CE device customers.”

Karthik Ranjan, ARM marketing director, operator relations, said, “The ARM ecosystem has invested heavily in HTML5 technology within the mobile market, which will in turn provide huge commercial gains for the Pay TV sector as it will have access to the constant and rapid innovation.”

David DeAndrade, a fellow in Comcast’s office of the CTO, is a spokesman for DLNA. He said in an interview with CED that there have also been some European satellite and telco service providers who have been involved, though they did not participate at the official “Contributor” level.

He acknowledged that the adoption of DLNA CVP-2 will have a chicken-and-egg element to it. The technology will require a critical mass of both service providers and CE companies. Given that, it’s notable that Apple has not participated in the effort so far.

“Success will invite more service providers in, and more CE companies in. If we get a good launch this could very well become a success,” DeAndrade said.

DLNA CVP-2 is implemented using open source technologies including linux platforms, HTML5, MPEG-DASH, and DTCP-IP, the digital rights management (DRM) software that authorizes and enables sharing within a home network.

Support for DLNA CVP-2 is also built into the RDK software stack, DeAndrade noted.

Products will have to be certified before being marketed. Certification is expected to begin in September. There will be five or six organizations that will perform certification testing around the world. In the U.S., the University of New Hampshire will be one.

DLNA expects certified products to hit the market at the end of this year.

DLNA CVP-2 provides several advantages, but the topline benefit is the ability to deliver video in a home network through a set-top or gateway, as opposed to an Ethernet/Wi-Fi router, no other equipment required.

Display devices can include PCs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, laptops and other mobile devices. Every device that would connect in a DLNA CVP-2 would need to be enabled with the technology. In many cases, that might require a simple app download for CE devices.

It is up to the CE companies to create those apps for their products. The way the technology is set up, the CE device will go out and discover the gateway, and access the remote user interface (RUI).

Because the RUI is HTML5-based, it can be consistent across all devices.

Once connected, the viewer can then go through the menu of content available. If Comcast were to adopt this technology, for instance, that would all go through the X1 platform.

The number of devices that could be supported would depend on the number of tuners in the set-top/gateway; gateways typically have 4 or 6.

It would be up to service providers to provide support pages that explain what the service is, what devices will be supported, and where to download apps for devices that can be used but didn’t come with the necessary software already installed.

Service providers would need to install a DLNA server.

 

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