Home Analysis Time for Pay TV industry to get serious about Wi-Fi

Time for Pay TV industry to get serious about Wi-Fi

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By Philippe Alcaras, CEO, AirTies

Amid all the hype around OTT and UHDTV it is surprising how little focus there seems to be within the video infrastructure industry on the home network, as witnessed at the recent TV Connect show in London. After all there is massive growth in viewing from mobile clients such as smartphones and tablets and most of that takes place within the home, with the final hop inevitably over Wi-Fi given these are wireless devices. As broadcasters and operators start to deliver UHD to the home they will face growing pressure to deliver consistent QoS over Wi-Fi to multiscreen devices everywhere in the home, avoiding dead zones and intermittent drops in bit rate. 

There was though one notable and welcome indication at the show that Wi-Fi is being taken more seriously by the TV industry when AirTies won the Connected TV award for Best Consumer Device for our Air 4920. This is the smallest dual band concurrent 11ac Wi-Fi repeater device to date. More significantly it is the world’s first Wi-Fi repeater capable of operator grade video streaming, paving the way for UHD delivery in the home. It can connect multiple set-top boxes (STBs), stream up to 10 HD video channels simultaneously, supports both multicast and unicast traffic and, above all, prioritizes the TV service over general traffic. We think this will be a successful consumer product since it harnesses AirTies’ pioneering wireless Mesh technology to enable 100% Wi-Fi coverage in almost all homes, even if the Wi-Fi environment in the area is congested.

There was also significant interest on our stand at TV Connect from both operators and analysts in our UHD STB, the Air7410X, which we launched at the show, again with Wi-Fi Mesh. This is noteworthy in that it promotes the STB as a pivotal device in the expanding home network, functioning as a Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) in addition to its traditional roles in access control and as tuner for TV services. This is the first UHD STB capable of operating as an AP by transmitting as well as receiving Wi-Fi and this aspect is gaining strong traction for the box. AirTies has already won its first customer, a tier one Scandinavian operator, which will deploy the STB in September 2015. Based on the Broadcom 7252S SoC (System-on-Chip), it can deliver 4K p60 video via either the HEVC or VP9 codecs.

We think such STBs that double up as Wi-Fi APs will become popular for two good reasons. First, they will enable operators to extend premium video services over Wi-Fi, perhaps with the aid of our booster in some homes that are more challenging wireless environments. Second, it will make it easier for operators to support their subscribers’ Wi-Fi networks, which they are increasingly doing even when they have not supplied the APs or boosters. The cost and effort of configuration or troubleshooting will be greatly reduced if the operator has provided the components and can control them remotely.

So given the fast rising profile of Wi-Fi and home networking in general we are sure they will feature much more prominently at TV Connect 2016 as well as other dedicated TV shows.


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