The Online Reporter

Research, Trends and Insight into the Digital Media, Consumer Electronics & Broadband Industries

Jazztel Selects Comtrend’s PowerGrid-9070 G.hn Adapters

– Jazztel Selects Comtrend’s G.hn Gear to Connect Fiber to Copper Phone Wires

Spanish telco Jazztel has selected Comtrend’s PowerGrid-9070 G.hn adapters with Marvell’s G.hn chips to accelerate the deployment of its FTTH/FTTdp network.

Jazztel said the deployment will help it bridge the connection between the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) (or distribution point) and the subscriber’s gateway in the residence.

The G.hn adapters that Jazztel is using take a bite out of the G.fast market, as also happened at South Korea’s KT.

G.fast was developed to bridge the copper wire from a residential gateway to an ONT, typically located in an external, weather-proof box or in an MDU’s basement, where fiber from the central office is connected to the copper phone wires that go to the gateway.

 

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Jazztel: taking bite out of Spain’s G.fast market

 

One advantage that G.fast and G.hn both have is that the telco does not have to send an installer into the home but can instead ship the gateway to the subscriber for a plug-and-play installation.

Now that G.fast chips and products are becoming available, it’s not certain how big the market will be for G.hn to operate in G.fast’s target marketplace — connecting fiber to copper in order to get fast broadband.

This makes the second instance we have heard of where a telco selected G.hn-based products for what many would have considered an opportunity for G.fast. In any event, the customer gets faster broadband speeds and the telco staves off the cableco or a third-party FTTH service.

Jazztel currently has the second largest FTTH network in Spain, with more than …

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Tennis Channel Expands Streaming Service

With Wimbledon and the US Open on the horizon, the Tennis Channel is expanding its OTT subscription service, called Tennis Channel Plus, to cover more markets and more devices. The Tennis Channel launched its subscription OTT service last year during the French Open. It is available to consumers directly, without a pay TV subscription, for $11.99 per month, or $79 per year.

The company’s direct-to-consumer OTT experiment has been heralded a success.

 

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Tennis: sometimes literally OTT

 

During this year’s French Open, it delivered over 260 hours of coverage online, streaming 140 live matches and encore replays, and 120 hours of the nightly show French Open Tonight.

Its OTT subs have grown 400% over the last year, with about a quarter of its subscribers using the service every day. Subscription revenues from the OTT service have already surpassed the Tennis Channel’s expectations for its first 12-14 months.

Tennis Channel Plus is powered by Neulion’s streaming …

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Broadcasters Are Laggards in 4K

– Could Lead to Their Ultimate Downfall
As told by The Online Reporter for these past two years!

Broadcasters and pay TV services are laggards when it comes to 4K, according to research from Quantel and Snell, a media technology and TV management company. Despite the fact that production and sales of UHD TVs are accelerating, the company said it will take up to a decade before the majority of the world’s broadcasters make the change to Internet Protocol (IP) transmission so they can deploy 4K more easily and less expensively.

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Professional broadcasters have faced IP and 4K uncertainty

 

The research showed when broadcasters expect the transition to IP only to take place:
– 19% believe this would occur within two years
– 42% within five years
– 27% only see this happen within 10 years

And, 60% said 4K TV will be “relevant in the future” but only in the two- to five-year period.

Quantel and Snell CEO Tim Thorsteinson said, “Broadcasters and media organizations have been bombarded with IP and ‘4K now’ messages over the last year. This has led to a great deal of uncertainty, which I know our customers have fed back to us time and again. It clearly shows that broadcasters see these as key future concerns, but for the vast majority, a full-on infrastructure lift-out and replacement with IP and 4K is not going to happen any time soon.”

More than 1,000 people in 80 countries took part in the survey.

According to Rider Research
Here is what we at Rider Research think about the broadcasters’ slow launch of 4K channels, especially if they are as slow to 4K as they say they will be:
– OTT services will become the dominant method for delivering video entertainment and information to the home, even sports (think BT), news (Bloomberg) and weather.
– People will think of TV as apps, not as a slew of linear TV channels that they are forced to wade through to find something to watch.
– By putting their own apps on smart TVs, content owners will be selling/renting most of their goodies directly to viewers, which is what ESPN, HBO, CBS and others have already started doing.
– Within two years, 100% of the TVs 40-inches and larger that are in stores will be UHD smart TVs, probably by year-end 2016 or after the setmakers launch at CES in early 2017.
– Within five years, over half the homes in first world countries will have at least one UHD TV with some having two or more.
– 4K displays will dominate the high end market for cell phones and tablets in three years, creating even more demand for 4K content, which will create demand for more 4K TVs and mobile devices, which will… Oh! You get it! It’ll become a total 4K world and broadcasters should take note that

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Alibaba Plans ‘HBO’-Like OTT Service for China

-It Makes a Big Bet on Paid OTT
-China’s Internet TV Market Is Flourishing
-And What About Netflix?

Online retailer Alibaba is planning to launch a premium streaming video service in China.

The service, called Tmall Box Office (TBO), will offer films and TV series from China and other countries, plus original series and productions. It will be available on Alibaba’s line of smart TVs and net-top boxes.

 

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Alibaba: tapping into a 649 million consumer segment

 

“Our mission, the mission of all of Alibaba, is to redefine home entertainment,” said Patrick Liu , Alibaba’s head of digital entertainment. “Our goal is to become like HBO in the United States, to become like Netflix in the United States.”

The online video market is extremely competitive in China. The entertainment and media market in China is the third-largest in the world, and is projected to reach $214 billion by 2018, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

China is home to the largest market of video streamers, too, with 80% of its 649 million broadband consumers streaming online video, according to China-based iResearch. Alibaba alone has 350 million active users, about the population of the US.

The pricing structure Alibaba announced for its TBO service, which includes a little bit of SVoD, a little bit of free, ad-supported video, and a little bit of transactional video, is indicative of the market in China. Monthly subscriptions are not the norm for online video services.

TBO will compete against ad-supported OTT video services from Tencent Holdings, Baidu, Sohu.com and Leshi Internet Information & Technology (LeTV). Alibaba owns 16.5% stake in Youku Tudou, China’s largest online video platform.

Iqiyi, Baidu’s online video service, is one of the most popular in China. Last year, it overtook Youku Tudou in reaching viewers. It attracted 94 million monthly active users, compared to Youku Tudou’s 83.5 million. Sohu brought in around 30 million viewers, and LeTV attracted 18 million.

While there is a huge streaming video market in China, there is hardly a market for subscription OTT services today in the country. The most popular subscription service is the subscription tier of Baidu’s Iqiyi service. Baidu announced this week it has only 5 million subscribers who pay about $3.25 per month to access content. Youku Tudou also offers a subscription tier, but has only converted 1% of its huge user base into paying subscribers.

Alibaba last year launched an SVoD OTT service with Lionsgate, named Lionsgate Entertainment World (LGEW). That service offers popular and exclusive Hollywood content to deliver to Chinese viewers, but it hasn’t released any viewership numbers yet to date.

 

Studios, Pay TV Eye Posed to Enter OTT Market, Too

At a recent conference in Shanghai, film executives signaled their interest in leveraging the Internet economy to expand their content businesses and distribution networks. “We have been through 12 years of initial reform; now we need Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent to help us increase our competitiveness versus Hollywood,” said Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group in China. “Already in the past year we have growth of online sales and fan bases.

Alibaba has begun lobbying local film studios and production companies for content to deliver on its TBO service. “We will leverage our assets to create an entertainment ecosystem that is open to all producers,” Liu said at the conference.

Pay TV services in China have been disrupted by the Internet just as elsewhere in the world, and are consequently looking to enter the OTT business, too. Gehua CATV Network, a pay TV operator in Beijing, is expanding its transactional streaming movie service to more areas of China this year. Gehua aims to partner with pay TV operators throughout the country for the service, which will be delivered to pay TV subscribers.

 

And What about Netflix?

Meanwhile, Netflix is considering entering China with its global OTT service. Earlier this year, its chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company is interested in the market while at an event in Shanghai.

 

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The Chinese market: Netflix probes

 

The cards are stacked against Netflix finding success in China, whose government is wary of Western media. Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are all blocked in the country, and local streaming video services face strict censorship and regulations in their content offerings.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the regulatory body that governs TV and video content, has recently tightened its censorship rules around foreign content. Last year, it removed a number of Western TV shows from streaming video sites without explanation or warning.

The company will need to navigate a number of licensing and regulatory obstacles before being able to launch. It will also need to secure local content, which may prove challenging for an outside firm as the streaming market becomes more and more competitive.

If Netflix does launch in China, it will need a local partner, and likely that should be a device partner, ie a TV set maker or a set-top box maker, or a studio partner to help it secure local content. And it will either need to drastically reduce its monthly fees to win over subscribers.

Still, there is already marked demand in China for…

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The 20 Most US Popular Channels Viewers Want in Their TV Bundles

As pay TV providers and Internet TV providers are exploring ways to offer new, innovative content packages that better reflect consumer preferences, Digitalsmiths this week points the way forward for the skinny bundle.

Digitalsmiths asked over 3,000 consumers which pay TV channels they would want as part of their pay TV package if they could choose.

Respondents to the survey averaged 17 channels in a bundle, at a price point of $38.

 

The top 20 US TV channel list, in order of preference as ranked by respondents

1. ABC
2. Discovery Channel
3. CBS
4. NBC
5. History Channel
6. National Geographic
7. Fox
8. PBS
9. HBO
10. Comedy Central
11. AMC
12. Food Network
13. Animal Planet
14. The Weather Channel
15. TBS
16. HGTV
17. TNT
18. TLC
19. FX
20. ESPN

 

“The numerous changes taking place in 2015 might force pay TV providers to think creatively and offer different structures in their packages,” Digitalsmiths said. “Pay TV providers might consider offering a lower-priced option, excluding content such as ESPN, to appeal to those who may not be interested in sports.”

So how does Dish Network’s Sling TV stack up?

It has seven of the top 20 channels, available for $20 per month in its basic Internet TV package.

Sony’s PlayStation Vue has four of the top 20 in its basic package, which runs $50 per month, and 10 of the top 20 channels in its Elite package, which costs $70 per month.

To be clear, these are channels that consumers said they would want in a pay TV package –not what they would be willing to subscribe to as a direct-to-consumer service. We bet that list would look much different.

At the OTT Executive Summit this week, hosted by Trender Research, a panel of consumers ranging in demographics and age groups were posed a similar question. The Trender panel was made up of five consumers informally representing five different demographics: seniors, Generation Z, the Hispanic community, Millennials and middle-aged males.

They were asked if they would be willing to pay $5 per month for an OTT service that offered access to content from a specific celebrity, TV show or network.

-The “Dutiful Dad,” representing middle-aged males, said he would gladly pay $5 a month for access to NFL games.
-The “New Vision for Univision,” representing the Hispanic community, said she would pay $5 a month for access to Bravo network shows.
-The “Social Shark,” representing Millennials, said he would pay $5 a month to watch “Game of Thrones,” because “right now I’m paying $15 for that,” he said, referring to HBO Now.
-The “No-Tech Nana,” representing seniors, said she would pick “Jon Stewart.”
– And surprisingly, the “Chatty Teen,” representing Generation Z viewers, said she would rather have her Comcast TV package because it give her access to so many shows that she likes.

See: here for more information on the consumer panelists…

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Sling TV: ‘The Market Is Ready for This’

-Hits 250K Subs in 4 Months

Dish Network’s Internet TV service Sling TV is proving its value to viewers and should not be underestimated. According to unnamed sources in Re/code, Sling TV now has around 250,000 subscribers, only four months after launching.

Sling TV is the poster child for Internet TV services; it bridges OTT SVoD and traditional pay TV packages.

It offers a decent selection of typical “cable” channels for a low price; it offers flexibility in packages, which resonates with consumers today who don’t want to pay for channels they don’t watch; its biggest content asset is the live sports it offers; and it doesn’t require a year or two-year contract to sign up for the service.

“We’re a next-generation over the top television service,” said Seth Van Sickel, general manager of partner and business operations at Sling TV, who spoke to The Online Reporter at INTX this year. “All you need is Internet.”

The power of that proposition is making itself known now. While pay TV subscriber growth has slowed significantly over the past year, OTT services are gaining new ground in living rooms around the US, and streaming video is now a mainstream behavior: Netflix has 41 million subscribers in the US alone; Hulu has now reached 9 million subscribers.

 

Millennials - Students_of_CEU

Not just “Millennials” but customers: Sling TV joins the hunt

 

According to Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, Dish recognized early on that the pay TV model wasn’t going to resonate with consumers who grew up with iTunes, smartphones and YouTube.

“Our view was, there’s going to be a new demographic coming out who would not commit to a subscription to pay TV in nearly the same percentages as generations before,” Lynch said, speaking on a panel at INTX.

“We needed a different model, we needed to look at how do they consume other content, how do they consume music? They don’t sign a two year contract; they don’t pass a credit check and have an installer show up at their house. Let’s model something that really mirrors how they consume other content.”

The service has no hardware specific to it, no installation or truck rolls, and no physical network to manage. It’s available across consumer devices such as Roku net-top boxes, Amazon Fire TV, and Microsoft Xbox One game consoles, as well as on iOS mobile devices, and it’s available on PCs and Macs.

“You’ll see us expand that,” Van Sickel said. “Google Nexus player, and smart TVs – that’s the next generation of what we’re working on.” Sling TV recently became available on Google’s smart TV platform, Android TV. Sling TV has also worked out a deal with Google that will offer Google Nexus NTBs for half-price with three months of Sling TV prepaid.

Dish Network’s experiment will demonstrate to the other pay TV providers just how lucrative the broadband-centric Internet TV business can be for them – all of which are also broadband providers.

For Sling TV, each subscriber is paying at a minimum $20 per month, which gives them the basic package; subs can add genre packs of additional channels for $5 each per month. That means Dish is bringing in around $5 million per month with the service.

Lynch said that subscriber acquisition for Dish’s pay TV service is around $800 per subscriber. “It’s a tiny fraction of that for over-the-top services,” Lynch said. “We saw on Dish World [the Internet TV service that offers international content] that people would come in, use it and leave, then come back. We don’t necessarily think of that as churn, because when they come back, it doesn’t cost us money. They’re just paying us again. It’s not something we discourage at all. Live sports will drive more of that activity. The challenge for us is can we make it more interesting for them year-round.”

The main draw to the service is its live linear channel feeds and channel packages, which viewers can navigate through by genre or channel. One of our initial criticisms of the service when it launched was that it didn’t have much of an on-demand library. The on-demand library is growing, however, and Sling TV also offers a transactional VoD service.

Since INTX, Dish has launched Sling Latino, a new Internet TV service aimed at Spanish-language and bilingual speakers. It offers two tiers: “Pacquete Total,” offering 22 channels for $12 per month, and Paquete Esencial, offering 16 channels for $7 per month. Both offer live streaming channels and on-demand libraries. Sling Latino also offers four additional channel packs, available for $5 per month each.

Lynch told The Online Reporter the on-demand library was one of the top priorities for expansion, as viewers today prefer to watch content according to their own schedules.

“One of our objectives was to make it as simple as possible,” Lynch said. “Look at Hulu or Netflix. Both of those services embody simple user propositions: pay eight bucks and I get lots of great content. We knew we were never going to make it quite that simple, because of the structure of pay TV agreements for live channels, but we wanted to make it as simple as possible.”

Dish is also integrating short-form video into the service, which it knows resonates with Millennial and Generation Z viewers. “We’re bridging the gap with the best of Internet television, and that will continue to expand in the next few months,” Van Sickel said. “There’s some great content out there and people want to see it in an aggregated fashion.”

As part of its deal with Disney, Sling TV already offers short-form content from Maker Studios, the YouTube multi-channel network that Disney owns. We might expect Vevo to appear on the service at some point too, as Dish has already begun experimenting with Vev…

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Comtrend Picks Celeno’s Wi-Fi for Its G.hn Powerline Extender

– ‘Virtualized Wi-Fi’ throughout the Home

The increasing use of Wi-Fi devices – from TVs to tablets – and the coming of bandwidth-hungry apps such as 4K have caused increased demand for Wi-Fi bandwidth and coverage in and around the home.

Equipment maker Comtrend has developed an answer to Wi-Fi’s shortcomings – plug-and-play extenders that use G.hn over the home’s powerline to carry Wi-Fi signals to every nook and corner in the residence. Comtrend uses Celeno’s Wi-Fi chips and OptimizAIR in each extender.

 

Attic bedroom

Comtrend’s extender promises Wi-Fi for remote parts of the house

 

Celeno said that with its technology, “Consumers can seamlessly access high bandwidth services wherever they are in the home as Wi-Fi capacity remains high no matter how far coverage is extended.”

Celeno’s CL1860 and CL2200 Wi-Fi chips have Celeno’s concurrent dual band Wi-Fi, which drives the G.hn powerline Wi-Fi Extenders, enabling them to leverage both the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Celeno’s smart Wi-Fi technology OptimizAIR 2.0 enables the virtualization of Wi-Fi resources, so that Wi-Fi capacity can be dynamically apportioned and provisioned to different devices, services and applications. It also enables them to offer new service business models like homespots, IoT, home security and home automation on different SSID’s from each extender.

A single push of a button enables rapid self-install. This results in a dramatic decrease in service calls and operating expenses for service providers.

Celeno’s VP of marketing Lior Weiss said, “A combination of well-coordinated gateway and multiple Wi-Fi extenders delivers the best coverage and Wi-Fi throughput. The more mobile device penetration we see, the more important it will be to extend and improve wireless coverage to enable consumers to enjoy perfect Wi-Fi in every corner of their home, while ensuring we don’t compromise on overall network capacity.”

John Hsieh, Comtrend’s marketing director, said, “Celeno’s smart Wi-Fi solution provides a significant advantage for our customers in terms of superior user experience and customer satisfaction, as well as by offering both extended coverage with reliable service and increased capacity in a distributed network.”

Celeno’s Wi-Fi chips are proven in the field. They have been used in …

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BT Will Be the First with a 4K TV Channel

– And It’s a Sports Channel with Live Action in 4K
– UEFA Champions League Games & Other Live Sports Events
– Sales of UHD TVs to Boom Followed by Demand for 4K Content from OTT Services

BT will be the first pay TV service in the Western Hemisphere to launch a dedicated 4K channel – and it’ll offer live sports – and only live sports. By the start of this year’s English football season, BT will offer in the UK a 4K channel called BT Sport Ultra HD that will show the strongest draw in the pay TV kingdom – live sports in the form of European football including 4K broadcasts of UEFA Champions League games.

 

BT HQ Jul 2014

BT: 4K will require more bandwidth in the network to the home

 

So, the first dedicated 4K pay TV channel will be in Britain, not in the US or a continental European country. And it will be sports, the hardest TV content to broadcast in 4K – and which many have been saying that 4K broadcast equipment, networks and current UHD TV sets weren’t capable of doing. It would have been far easier for BT to have done slow-moving dramas in 4K.

 

BT Destroys 4K Myths

BT’s 4K venture destroys once and for all the myths about 4K:
– 4K broadcast cameras aren’t available
– Live sports can’t be broadcast in 4K
– Networks don’t have the bandwidth to transmit 4K
– There aren’t enough UHD TV sets in use
– Current UHD sets aren’t capable of showing live action, fast-moving sports in 4K
– Consumers don’t have STBs that are capable of supporting 4K

Football and other high-action sports require multiple 4K cameras that are closely coordinated so as not to miss an important play and to capture the action from multiple angles. BT is prepared for that.

4K will require more bandwidth in the network to the home. BT loves 4K because UK consumers will ask for and pay for faster Internet speeds – and BT, as the country’s largest broadband service, will benefit the most. Once the consumer has watched the sporting events in which they are interested, they’ll start looking for more 4K content and today it is only available from the OTT services. It should be expected that at some point BT will offer non-sports 4K shows on other 4K channels. That will give BT an even greater edge over other non-4K pay TV services.

4K also requires UHD TV sets, so sales of those will start increasing as the football season approaches. It’s too bad the UK doesn’t have a Vizio or a Hisense to sell 4K sets at affordable prices – yet. BT’s move will make UK consumers more aware of 4K and perhaps start a price war in UHD sets – the kind that is currently intensifying in the US.

4K also requires a 4K capable STB. BT will have one – the new BT TV Ultra HD box, which BT calls the “best ever” Youview+ box. In addition to receiving and sending 4K channels to a UHD TV, it’ll hold about 250 hours of HD content on its 1TB drive.

 

The Content

The UHD channel will also broadcast in 4K the Barclays Premier League, the FA Cup, and Aviva Premiership Rugby. The first one up will be The Community Shield charity match between the Premier League and FA Cup winners. Kickoff is August 2, 2015.

John Petter, BT’s CEO of its consumer operations, said, “This is a new chapter for European football on TV. BT Sport will show hundreds of live matches throughout the tournament using the very latest technology.” Piling it on, he added, “Our presenters and experts will also provide the smartest insight and analysis.”

 

4K Naysayers Take One Final Try


There are the expected 4K-naysayers. BT’s rival, the satco Sky, was one of them. Instead of focusing on how it allowed BT to get such a jump on it and how it would catch up in 4K, especially in the all-important sports broadcasting, Sky’s chief engineer of broadcast strategy Chris Jones said many UHD TVs would not be able to handle 4K sports content. He said that’s because current UHD TVs can only broadcast 4K at 25 frames per second (fps). Action-filled sports, he said, possibly needs up to as much as 100fps.

Perhaps trying to create fear, uncertainty and doubt about 4K, especially live sports in 4K, Jones is quoted in an article at www.4K.com as saying, “If you bought a [4K TV] set in 2013 and early 2014, then sorry, it won’t do sports. It’ll only go up to 25 frames per second. If you bought a set last year, even a set in the sales this summer, this spring, then I’m sorry, it won’t do High Dynamic Range, which gives you better, brighter pictures.” Perhaps he was trying to communicate that consumers should not buy a UHD set on which to watch BT’s shiny new 4K sports channel until Sky has time to catch up.

Jones’ negativity about sports broadcasting in 4K is a direct reflection of his company being caught by surprise by the sudden emergence of 4K’s popularity. Sky is not the only pay TV service that’s been caught totally by surprise by 4K’s swift ascendency. Most every pay TV service in the world is in the same boat – on their heels when it comes to 4K, which has given OTT services an opportunity to fill the vacuum they have left.

Ask for the article in the current edition no. 933: “4K Caught Pay TV Services by Surprise”

Many industry watchers would have thought that a satellite-based pay TV service such as Sky would offer 4K channels before a wireline pay TV service such as BT. It’s hard to call a monolith like BT a start-up, but it is when BT’s TV service is the topic. BT was just hungrier for 4K sports to give it an big edge over Sky. It is probably too late for Sky to offer its sports channels in 4K in 2015.

Like other nay sayers, Sky’s chief engineer has underestimated makers of UHD TV sets and their ability to handle challenges to their technology. Jones’ comments sound like sour grapes because rival BT beat it to broadcasting 4K. It’s a lesson that pay TV services worldwide should learn because OTT services with…

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G.hn Shows off Big Time at Taiwan’s Computex

– Rolls out Lots of Big (and Little) Name Players
– Shows a Smart TV with G.hn Built-in
– G.hn over Phonewire & Plastic Optical Fiber

The G.hn troops usually put on a big show at the Computex trade show (held last week in Taipei, Taiwan).  This year, under the direction of HomeGrid Forum president Donna Yasay, was no exception.

Once again the HomeGrid Forum showed how G.hn home networking can be used to deliver multiple 4K videos to TV sets and other devices. UHD sets are proving to be quite popular in China, South Korea and Japan, plus surprisingly on a more limited basis even in India.

One demonstration showed 4K video being delivered over powerline, using ARRIS and Comtrend gear, to a smart TV that has a G.hn chip embedded in the TV set. The Forum called it a “truly” plug and play technology. Customers can simply plug the G.hn-enabled smart TV into an AC outlet to simultaneously get both electrical power and access to the Internet. The set maker provides a separate G.hn adapter that plugs into the modem, router or gateway, which causes the home’s powerlines to become a G.hn network.

Electrical Plug Provides Both Power and Network Connection

 

In this picture is a smart TV with G.hn embedded. The name of the setmaker was not provided but it’s assumed to be the Chinese setmaker Skyworth, which has previously announced that it would make such a set using Marvell’s G.hn chips. A powerline adapter is included to connect the modem/router/gateway to the G.hn powerline network. Hisense, Haier, TCL, Changhong, Konka and perhaps others have also indicated they’ll build sets for the Chinese market with G.hn embedded — in partnership with the giant telco China Telecom. (See TOR899 October 2014: “China Telecom Specifies that TVs Will Have G.hn Built In.”)

The Forum held a press conference to spotlight new certified products, which it said “demonstrates the multi-vendor, multi-source, multi-wire capability of G.hn.”

The Forum’s booth showed multi-room, multi-node and multicast G.hn networks operating over coax, powerline, phoneline and plastic optical fiber. Its smart home demonstration features an “i-Family” smart home management system that connects to the home’s Wi-Fi network.

 

HGF booth

HomeGrid Forum booth at Computex 2015

 

Demonstrating in the HomeGrid Forum booth were ARRIS, Comtrend, D-Link, Institute for Information Industry of Taiwan (III), Marvell, Metanoia, Prime Electronics & Satellitics, SendTek, Sigma Designs, Suttle, Tecom, Teleconnect, Xingtera and Zinwell.

 

G.hn Also Operates over Phone Wires and Plastic Optical Fiber

Yasay said, “In Taiwan last year we promised that we would have major deployments within the year. This year, more than ever, we have so much to show the public and the industry. Services are now up and running bringing gigabit speeds to in-home networks across Asia.”…

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Hisense Breaks the $600 Barrier for 50-inch 4K UHD TVs

– Netflix Recommended; Amazon, UltraFlix & YouTube to Follow
– Goes after the Mass Market, Offering It in Over 2,000 Walmarts
– And the Case for Apple to License its iTunes OTT App to Setmakers

Every UHD TV that’s sold pushes up the demand for increased broadband and home network capacity because, for the next few years at least, most 4K content will only be available from OTT services — even if the 4K version of Blu-ray discs is finally launched.

Prices have been the biggest barrier to increased sales of UHD TVs, but Hisense is totally destroying that barrier. It has launched its H7 50-inch UHD TV that’ll retail for under $600, less than many 1080p HD sets. The $600 price for a 50-inch UHD set beats out Samsung and, in the States, Vizio, for entry level pricing of UHD TVs. Vizio P series starts at $999. Vizio is said to be upgrading its less expensive M-series sets to UHD sometimes this year.

Hisense UHD

Hisense’s 50″ UHD: hits 600 buck price point

 

Hisense is a new name for most consumers so the Hisense H7 model has a four year warranty, longer than any other TV in the States to the best of our knowledge.

Here’s something that’s even more impactful about the new Hisense 50-inch UHD set: it’ll be on the shelves of 2,000 Walmart stores and at Walmart.com — starting in June in the Walmart stores in Charlotte, NC, truly a mass market, er, market.

According to Hisense, it’s a high-quality UHD set. Hisense called it one of the first “true” UHD sets because it complies with both HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 standards. It’s also “Netflix Recommended,” because Netflix’s engineers have tested the set and marked it as approved for Netflix’s 4K app, which is included.

Hisense said the H7 set is still undergoing certification testing for supporting 4K content from Amazon Instant Video, UltraFlix and YouTube. Once the certifications are finished, the appropriate apps on the installed base of H7s will automatically receive the updates.

On paper, the new Hisense UHD TV appears to be very good, but the proof will be in the viewing and how well it handles the upconversion of videos that are 1080p and lower in resolution.

Hisense said it has optimized the audio that comes from the set’s built in speakers, something that is increasingly important for buyers. Other features are:

– Integrated 2×2 dual-band Wi-Fi
– One-touch keys to turn it on
– One-touch keys to launch on-demand and OTT services (more later about the threat of that to Apple TVs)
– Built-in high performance speakers
– Total Volume from dbx-tv provides enhanced audio and prevents unwanted changes in loudness such as when commercials start

Hisense produces over 10 million televisions per year and sells them in over 130 countries.

Hisense USA CEO Jerry Liu said in a statement, “Our partnership with Walmart allows us to make 4K smart TV technology accessible and affordable not just for the early adopters, but for everyone.” In short, the mass market! Who would buy a 1080p sets for even $400 when they can buy a future-proof UHD set for less than $600 — even if, because of upconversion, there is no 4K content, which there is?

Vizio used to have the entry-level TV market at Walmart pretty much to itself. Hisense has moved in and out-Vizio’d Vizio when it comes to a quality set at mass market prices.

55 inches seems to be the hotspot of UHD TVs, although smaller and larger sizes also sell well. Hisense’s designation of the set as being an “H7 Series” indicates that the company will likely offer other sizes of UHD sets. According to HD Guru, it will be followed by 55- and 65-inch models in the H7 series with availability and pricing announced later. Most people find they can use larger UHD sets in rooms where smaller 1080p HD sets were previously best — for example, 55-inch UHD sets replacing 47-inch 1080p sets. The thing about a UHD set is that the viewer can be closer to the screen without seeing any pixels.

An important feature in any UHD set is its ability to upconvert (upscale) non-4K content to near 4K quality. Hisense said its new set upscales to near 4K quality all 1080p and lesser resolutions that come in to the set via any input.

The four HDMI ports are:
– On the rear are two HDMI V2.0 ports with HDCP V2.2 and support for 4K content up to 60fps
– On the side are two HDMI v1.4 ports with HDCP v2.0 and support for 4K content up to 30fps.
– For gaming and other applications, it supports full HD content at up to 120fps via one of the HDMI 2.0 ports.

Hisense did not name the makers of its HEVC chips but said the set supports HEVC decoding from sources such as Netflix.

Hisense’s smart TVs come with Roku built in but Hisense did not say whether Roku is built into the new UHD set. Hisense’s Web page of the 50-inch UHD set does not say that Roku is included so we think it’s not.

In addition to Netflix, Hisense says the set includes Vudu HD Movies, YouTube, Vimeo, Pandora, a version of Twitter called Tvitter (an interesting selection that makes one wonder whether that includes Twitter’s Periscope live video app), Facebook (which is also moving into personal videos), Picasa, AccuWeather Viewster, NFB Films, Daily Motion, Pandora, AP News, Rockswap Adventurers, Ultimate Poker, Opera’s Web browser and Opera’s TV Store.

 

What about Apple’s iTunes?

Hisense does not list Apple’s iTunes as an app — nothing but Apple devices currently have iTunes. But one wonders whether Apple might start licensing iTunes to setmakers, particularly ones that sell well in China — purportedly to become Apple’s largest market in a few years. Already on most UHD TVs are Vudu, Amazon and Google Play, which are considered iTunes’ largest competitors in the Americas and Europe — although pay TV services are adding for-rent and for-sell apps on their STBs — and rightly so.

The question comes down to: Does Apple want to use content mainly for the purpose of selling its devices — or does it want to go all out and sell content and Apple’s services? To paraphrase: Is Apple more concerned about rival OTT services that sell and rent box office quality content or is it more concerned about rival makers of hardware?

Hisense and other set makers are Apple’s rivals in the sense that owners do not need an Apple TV NTB except to access the iTunes OTT services and content stored in the iTunes player on their local PC in the iTunes player such as music and previously purchased shows — but only those that were purchased from the iTunes store, not those from other OTT services.

Without “must see content,” at least some of it exclusive, the Apple TV has the possibility of becoming obsolete. This especially when compared to, say a Samsung UHD set, that has a much more accessible user interface for OTT services. Press only one button on the Samsung remote and the OTT choices instantly appear — simultaneous with the show that’s playing on pay TV. Starting the Apple TV requires a number of button clicks including finding the Apple TV remote and pressing the dreaded “input” button on the TV remote. It’s all very un-Apple-like.

The only thing the Apple TV must still be used for is…

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