Cable video gateway deployments will grow from less than 700,000 units in North America and Europe to more than 10 million by 2016, according to a recent study.
Gateways that combine broadband routers, including DOCSIS 3.0 services, with set-top box functionalities cut down on customer premises equipment costs for cable operators, as well as give subscribers a better user experience through home networking to various devices.
“Cable gateway boxes can be more cost-effective, especially in homes with three or more TV screens, compared to traditional set-top box architectures," said Jason Blackwell, digital home practice director at ABI Research.
During last week’s earnings call, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said the nation’s second-largest cable operator will start deploying home gateways, while Comcast launched its Dory gateway earlier this year.
As for Europe, Liberty Global’s Horizon gateway – built by Samsung – was introduced last month at the IBC Show in Amsterdam. Horizon is currently in field trials in the Netherlands and will move to consumer trials later this year. Commercial launch is planned for the first quarter of 2012 at UPC in the Netherlands, with UPC Cablecom in Switzerland and Unitymedia in Germany following soon thereafter.
Gateways save on CPE costs by connecting to less expensive IP-based thin-client boxes around a home. In addition, these centralized architectures help to provide operators with a migration strategy from traditional QAM broadcasting to IP video.
Gateways also feature larger hard drives than traditional set-top boxes.
"Surprisingly, the feature-rich devices that many manufacturers are showcasing today account for only 30 percent of the total market – with low-cost devices used to deliver triple-play services in an integrated fashion in Asia accounting for a larger component of the video gateway forecast," said ABI senior analyst Sam Rosen. "The set-top box market today is showing increasing polarization between high-end models with 3-D user interfaces and low-cost boxes used to bring millions of customers pay-TV services for the first time in their lives."