OAKLAND, Calif. – Broadcom is nestled in a sweet spot between traditional cable companies and newer over the top (OTT) content providers, which are both battling and enabling each other in a fight for viewers and dollars.
The company’s chipsets for next generation set top boxes enable the downlink speeds necessary for both sides of the TV equation, while providing a possible hub for a smart home. Broadcom’s DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem SoC is the basis for its set top box vision, combing dual-band Wi-Fi and a custom applications processor to reach 5 Gbit/second downstream speeds and 2 Gbit/s upstream.
The new DOCSIS standard binds channels to achieve its downstream speed, while moving the noisy upstream beyond 40 MHz to 150 MHz for faster acknowledgments and improved performance. Cable companies such as Time Warner need to continuously improve their technology in order to compete with the likes of Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber, Broadcom's Rich Nelson told EE Times.
Downlink speeds on DOCSIS 3.1. Source: Broadcom
Nelson, senior vice president of Broadcom’s broadband and connectivity communications group, continued:
As your broadband gets faster and faster, those OTT guys work better and better. The challenge is, the OTT guys want to keep up and offer you better and better video quality. 4K requires four times the bandwidth to send out content to your home. They need the Internet speeds to keep going so you can keep getting provided those capabilities.
“Cable companies have a quandary: do I keep offering better and better broadband speeds, but I keep putting my video in peril because it’s enabling a competitor,” Nelson continued.
Broadcom’s 1x1 Wi-Fi and video chips are already inside the Roku and Amazon Fire streaming services, and the company demonstrated a 2x2 .11ac chip at the International CES. That chip cannot be powered off USB and uses MHL instead, though Nelson noted that MHL is on all new televisions and is always on.
For 4K video to truly proliferate – streaming over Wi-Fi or through cable -- a standard for high dynamic range will need to be developed. There may be time, however, as DOCSIS 3.1 deployments will likely occur in 2016 with lower rates around 1 Gbit/s. Nelson was skeptical about the immediate future of 60 GHz in the television space and said Broadcom hasn’t announced plans for any WiGig products.
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