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Latest Satellite News Discussion, Update STBs will stay relevant at General Satellite News forum; STBs will stay relevant Chris Forrester Despite the proliferation of digital TV sets, many of which are increasingly sophisticated, the ...

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Update STBs will stay relevant - 15-June-2009, 10:10

STBs will stay relevant

Chris Forrester

Despite the proliferation of digital TV sets, many of which are increasingly sophisticated, the position of the set-top box converter will stay dominant in homes, said an expert panel. New technology, in the shape of CI+, will have an impact, said the panel, But, the set top box is still relevant because those TV sets will still have limited functionality, particularly to expand the services that they offer. Rapid TV News latest Round Table, on Middleware, brought together experts from Open TV and NDS, as well as box-maker Pace. Matthew Huntington, VP Product Marketing at Open TV, confirmed that CI+ is important to some cable MSOs, Operators see this as a way of removing some of their largest capital expenditure, which is [in funding] set top boxes. But, the set top box is still relevant because those TV sets will still have limited functionality, particularly to expand the services that they offer, with existing services like VOD, but then more home networking related services. And so the set top box is still key for an operator to provide a broader range of services to the main TV sets in the home. I think there is a kind of economic discussion, which is in some cases [will decide] it is not economic to have a set top box and therefore it will be an integrated digital TV set, and where it is economic and [therefore] drives value to have a set top box, there will be one.

Moshe Buhboot, Product Marketing Manager, Middleware, DVR & Home Networking at NDS agreed that a two-pronged approach was probable, saying: My belief is that it depends on what the market is. I think that for Pay TV operators Middleware is essential because it allows them to really create a unified experience across different boxes and convey services in a more generalised way to many CPEs around the house. And I dont see how that can be replaced by any other means. I know that there has been emerging trends in the market for digital TVs [equipped] with some Middleware components, [containing] Middleware widgets, [but this] is not associated with a pay TV operators business.

Andrew Ward, Group Account Director, Pace, and with Pace being one of Europes leading STB manufacturers, championed the cause for the box industry and the importance of Middleware, saying: We firmly believe that you should keep a lot of the functionality that is in the set top box out of the flat panel. There are two main reasons for that from my point of view: One is the phasing of how long that device would be in someones house, so typically a TV you would expect 7 to10 years lifespan in someones house. Within a set top box the technology changes that we can see, it can shift within 18 months to 2 years, so to embed that type of technology in to a TV, you could see things becoming obsolete very quickly and frustrating users. To give operators the flexibility that they need, we say keep that stuff away from the flat TV panel, keep it as a dumb panel, is our view. And there are also a number of security and flexibility options that a set top box can provide that maybe you dont want to embed within a TV. So I think the role for the set top box is definitely here to stay around for a long time. Clearly there are going to be some more advanced features that you can imbed in TVs, but [I dont see this extending to] Pay TV services. People are going to try it, but I think really the best service, and the best offering, will remain within the set top environment.


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