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ADB is making it possible for service providers to introduce multi-room television, three screen viewing around the home and multimedia content sharing without the need to introduce hardware residential gateways, using its new ADB-Virtual Gateway, which was launched at IBC today. The software can be downloaded to existing ADB high-definition set-top boxes in the field and is available immediately.
ADB-Virtual Gateway is software that resides within the middleware and is based on open standards including DLNA home networking and the DTCP-IP standard that ensures paid content can only be accessed by secure devices.
Paul Bristow, VP Strategy Middleware & Consumer Experience at ADB, points out that while his company can provide a hardware residential gateway solution if customers want it, this provides a way to deploy advanced services without the need for new boxes.
“Consumers already have their own, very capable hardware at home and it seems crazy not to make use of that. We want to make things economic and sustainable for our customers so if we can put new features like gateway features into the current hardware product that will help them to be competitive.”
With the ADB-Virtual Gateway installed, consumers could immediately enjoy a multi-screen experience that complements their main television viewing. For example, the list of DVR recordings they have could be displayed on devices like an Apple iPad, with the content then viewed on the main television. People could also browse the Electronic Programme Guide on these companion devices.
It will also be possible to share managed TV services around the home. Even if a DVR is not present, the broadcast tuners within a set-top box can be used to route broadcast content onto the IP home network so it can be viewed in other rooms – offering satellite services in the bedroom as well as the main living room, for example. In this scenario, the ADB-Virtual Gateway acts as a ‘Digital Television Router’. A second function of the new software is to act as a Conditional Access termination point.
Harnessing DLNA, ADB is trying to enable a true multi-screen experience. “We are not trying to do everything on one device, but make use of all the devices in the home,” Bristow notes. “The traditional hardware story assumes that there is only one place where all DVR content is stored but we don’t make those assumptions,” he adds, as an example. “We make the assumption that a consumer might like to go down to the computer shop and buy an extra 2Tb hard drive and plug that into their home network and that they would like to store content on that. If that does happen then platform operators may want to utilise that.”
If content is stored in multiple places, it needs to be managed intelligently. Bristow says that the connectivity on the home network is just the starting point. There also has to be the intelligence to manage where content is recorded, so that if there is not room on one device, it is stored on another, without the consumer having to make these kinds of decisions. This intelligence layer must also judge, dynamically, where to store content based on the quality of network connections, for example.