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Cable Looks to the Cloud to Improve User Experience
Cable was a cloud before the cloud was cool. Cable has always been a network-based distribution system. Like the Internet cloud, cable's content and services long have been drawn from centralized servers. Talk about clouds: Cable TV services come to cable systems via satellites that are 23,000 miles away in space, far beyond any real clouds.

The trouble is, the boxes at the end of cable's network cloud are about as dumb as dirt. The legacy digital set-top boxes (STBs) that reside in some 40 million homes lack enough memory and processing power for cable operators to provide contemporary user interfaces, interactive program guides (IPGs), and interactive TV (ITV) applications. Overall, these efforts are designed to improve use experience, a concept that seemed foreign to the industry for many years.

Cable has been working on software solutions to overcome the legacy STB issues and enable more interactive capability in new devices. Enhanced Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), tru2way (based upon the OpenCable Application Platform) and proprietary solutions are being used to create richer user interfaces, better on-screen guides and interactive apps. While these solutions are making headway, cable operators are looking at using Internet cloud-based applications as a new method to enhance cable television. From a larger perspective, cable's use of the cloud is another step toward the industry's eventual move to all-IP video and service delivery.

MSOs will overcome the limitations of legacy STBs and outdated software by launching next-generation IPGs, especially if they infuse them with IP streams. MSOs can enhance the user experience by providing a guide that offers more convenient discovery features and simple ITV apps such as news, sports, traffic and weather. In addition, the IPG serves as an aggregation point for social media and popular websites formatted for TV.

With a new IP-connected IPG in place, cable's guide infrastructure can migrate to a full-fledged service delivery platform. Cable then can utilize its own cloud to deliver TV Everywhere programming and other content to multiple device platforms. The result is a branded MSO experience across multiple screens. In the process, cloud-based IPGs serve as a central building block in cable's migration to all-IP service delivery.

As cable embraces the cloud and adds better UIs, new IP service opportunities will become clearer. Cable will take advantage of an economical delivery system and swiftly tap into new innovations as they emerge online.

Cable Looks to the Cloud to Improve User Experience explores the prospects for cloud-based technologies and apps for cable. It addresses the market drivers, key technologies, MSO roadmaps and supplier markets. Finally, the report profiles eight suppliers that provide on-screen IPGs and ITV apps.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (cii1111_toc.pdf)
Many TV guides are constrained by outdated software, clunky technology and legacy equipment. Finding programming or content information can often be a futile exercise for consumers. Suppliers have been working on various solutions and MSOs have taken matters into their own hands by developing IPGs. However, the wealth of interfaces and navigational tools that are available on the Web and on connected devices are enough to make cable operators cringe green with envy. So why not utilize Internet innovation by bringing it into cable's domain? The following excerpt shows many of the cloud-based apps that are being contemplated for cable customers. This list does not include business services.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: ActiveVideo Networks Inc.; Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS); Ensequence Inc.; Fourthwall Media Inc.; NDS Group plc; Rovi Corp. (Nasdaq: ROVI); SeaChange International Inc.; and Zodiac Interactive Corp.
Total pages: 15
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