The battle for television subscribers is heating up as new entrants open up additional markets, the subscriber pool stagnates and the economy sputters. Eager to stay competitive in an environment where consumers have more choices than ever to get broadcast television programming, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service providers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves by providing innovative services to attract new subscribers and retain current ones.
The Multimedia over Coax Alliance or MoCA and Channel Stacking Switch (CSS) solutions are key tools for DBS operators to generate new lines of revenue while providing significant infrastructure savings. These technologies, whether used in a combined or stand-alone fashion, improve the customer experience, reduce churn and offer a conduit to deliver new services to drive average revenue per user (ARPU) -- all of which can create a positive position in the highly competitive Pay-TV market.
According to Parks Associates in their recent report Home Networks for Consumer Electronics, home networking will reach 167 million households worldwide by the end of 2008 and is forecasted to reach 250 million households by year-end 2013. The home entertainment networking segment is expected to grow even faster. Parks Associates forecasts home entertainment networking penetration to grow from 6.4 million at year-end 2008 to 52 million by year-end 2013-- a compound annual growth rate of over 50%.
Traditionally, DBS set-top boxes (STB) function as independent receivers with no need for connectivity between STBs within the home. However, with the introduction of digital video recording (DVR) capability integrated into DBS set-top boxes (STB), streaming content recorded on one DVR STB to another STB in another room becomes an attractive feature that consumers will soon come to demand. With multi-room DVR capabilities, family members are no longer forced to watch their favorite programs on the same television to which the DVR STB is attached. MoCA can provide this capability today. In fact, a MoCA home network allows DBS operators to not only gain the ability to provide multi-room DVR, but also to converge their DVR STBs with the subscriber's broadband access networks for HD video-on-demand downloads, remote DVR programming and other interactive services.
If a DBS Operator combined a MoCA home networking solution with CSS technology, they would gain the opportunity to offer new services while reducing the capital costs associated with new subscriber installations and current customer upgrades. Further, CSS provides a flexible way to allocate spectrum on the subscriber's coax wiring so that it is future proof against any potential bandwidth expansion required for the home network.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.