Cable Congress Continues with Charles Cheevers Q&A

13 Mar 2014
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Charles Cheevers, CTO, Customer Premises Equipment

The role of the set-top device/gateway is changing, how?

I think of the gateway and set-top device as Batman and Robin - an inseparable double team. Together they provide network services, high-quality IP Video images, and true entertainment platforms capable of new multi-room, multiscreen services. This will continue to transform our experience around various types of video content - gateways will become more powerful with greater bandwidth capabilities, alongside set-tops getting more powerful in both Graphics and Decode ability. Ultimately, Wi-Fi services will also become more important as MSOs increase their managed IP Video services as well as higher speed Wi-Fi High Speed Data expectations.

How will these changes impact devices? 

We'll see a refresh of gateway devices, incorporating new features such as additional memory to allow for new applications and future services. We aim to keep the gateway form factors as small and ergonomic as possible as we see these devices potentially moving to different demarcation points in the home. Set-top devices are becoming smaller and smaller, but these devices are now expected to deliver richer and more powerful user experiences which typically means more CPU and GPU capabilities as well as more robust WiFi functionality.

What are the three largest challenges the industry is facing and what can service providers do to overcome these?

The user experience - as consumers look to 'cord shave' and rely more on over-the-top (OTT) services, providers need to ensure the best customer experience in terms of quality, content and overall user experience. Initiatives like Comcast's  X User Experience and ARRIS's own Whole Home Solution and DreamGallery™ offerings ensure the service provider experience stays ahead of the pure OTT experience.

Wireless transmission of high bit rate video in the home - consumers love wireless technology and the flexibility it offers and as our set-top devices become more connected, this connection needs to be as reliable as a wired connection. WiFi will be a key factor as more client devices appear in our homes.

Simplifying the consumer viewing experience - with a bewildering array of connected devices and multiple ways to access content, it can overwhelm consumers who just want a simple means of interacting with their entertainment services in a way that is affordable and incorporates the highest quality experience. Constant vigilance from service providers will be necessary to make the user experience rich but simple - something we think we understand well at ARRIS.

How is ARRIS looking to drive The ‘Connected Experience’ e.g. the ARRIS gateway?

ARRIS offers everything you need to provide a high quality and robust solution with routing capability for the home. We get the consumer connected quickly and reliably to all home and connected devices.  We also strive to add innovative new interfaces like ZigBee® as we know consumers are becoming increasingly connected. Finally, we pride ourselves on our test and interoperability procedures as well as our huge existing population of gateway devices connected to hundreds of millions of end devices.

What does ARRIS predict the entertainment system will look like in 3-5 years’ time?

People talk a lot about moving to a completely unicast world but the statistics still don't support this - real-time content is still something that people want to watch live for the most part. There is no one-size fits all trend, but the movement towards accessibility of all content types on any device will continue to grow and simplify - to a point where we will wonder what all the fuss was about when we could first pause and resume across devices! Also, we'll see a new interaction with entertainment services - new viewing styles like "binge watching" will rise alongside people still wanting to catch the news or sports events live, as well as familiar watching such as viewing late night shows late at night.

What or who inspires you on a day to day basis?

To me it's not about being happy that we can download a full DVD of content in under a minute with emerging Gbps DOCSIS networks, it's about challenging why we can't do it in 2 seconds. I'm inspired by how technology has changed so much in such a short time. If this pace continues we may actually reach a no wait/no latency world in my lifetime - or find new services that will demand even more bandwidth. Both are exciting prospects and if we can keep our focus on using technology, and not being used by it, then this new world of low latency interaction will help us multi-task less and give us more time to create and learn things.

If you’re at Cable Congress, check out Charles’ panel on the changing role of the STB on March 14. See you in Amsterdam.

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