The Online Reporter

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

Yottio Brings Social Live Streaming to Linear TV

– Lets Users Interact Directly with Content by Appearing on TV
– Helps Broadcasters Keep Viewers Engaged and Watching Linear TV

The live streaming selfie craze is about to hit broadcast TV. Live streaming apps have hit Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but now, we may soon see selfie-streams of viewers become incorporated into live linear TV broadcasts with the help of Yottio, a live streaming platform for broadcasters to use to engage viewers with the chance to be on TV.

 

Yottio live

Yottio is a live streaming platform for broadcasters

 

“Your fifteen minutes of fame starts here,” the company boldly states on its Website. It’s the perfect bridge between the social media savvy modern viewer and the linear, one-way format of broadcast television; and it’s a solution that Jon Lawrence, Yottio co-founder, thinks will help networks regain and retain their audiences.

“We’ve come from many years producing traditional television, and we’ve watched our ratings erode significantly over the years,” Lawrence told The Online Reporter. “We hear about media fragmentation, but we really need to extend that to platform fragmentation. Our audiences go places like Facebook and Twitter and they spend more of their time on Facebook than watching television.”

The preponderance of social media over traditional TV signals a shift in consumers’ minds. “Our thesis behind that is that mass media is more and more irrelevant because it doesn’t include us.” Lawrence said. “It’s exclusionary media, it’s one-way. It’s been around in its current form for so long that the medium has become the message. Not only do the numbers show us, but the zeitgeist of the times shows us that we want to be a part of things, and if we can’t be a part of them, they’re not relevant to us.”

 

Second Screen Engagement Isn’t Enough

That lesson is one that broadcasters and content creators have struggled to develop on linear TV platforms. The industry’s first push at engagement came in the form of second screen apps. The idea is that the viewer can watch a TV program on the TV set and follow along, whether through a dedicated app, or through a social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to engage with other viewers or even cast members or plot characters.

The second screen app hasn’t quite caught on, an observation Lawrence made at his time with NBC. He pointed to “The Voice,” a reality competition show that incorporates second screen voting. “A really, really good night would be 11 million people watching the show and 500,000-600,000 people would tweet, which gives us a response curve of 4-6 %,” Lawrence said. “That’s pretty low. Those numbers are telling us that’s not meaningful engagement.”

Lawrence contrasts that type of second screen engagement with another project he worked on at NBC, a TV show that released an app that would enable users to compete for a chance to appear on TV.

“The idea that ‘we can play a game, and get on TV’ was very powerful,” he said. “We went from zero to 1.5 million players in six weeks. They spent an average of 100 minutes a month on the app trying to get on TV. That was a response rate for us of 26%.”

The new lesson: interacting with other fans on platforms such as Twitter isn’t enough to get viewers to engage with the content; viewers want to engage with the content and the content creators directly. “That was a watershed moment for me,” Lawrence said.

 

Creating the Stream-In TV Show

The result of those revelations is Yottio, a live streaming app and platform that brings viewers on to live linear TV during a show’s broadcast, in real-time. Yottio will be releasing its iOS app in the coming weeks for viewers to use to appear on participating TV shows.

The app works like this: the user selects which TV show he or she wants to join and appears in a virtual control room. The producers on the other end are able to screen the participants and pick out which ones they want to air on TV. The app gives the producers information about the user, details such as the resolution of the camera, the network bandwidth available to the user, the battery life on the device, etc, to help them decide who to put on live TV.

“Today, if I’m producing something and I would like to have people on my show from at home, on their devices, I’m going to ask my casting staff to find me a few people to speak with, via Skype or Hangouts, and hopefully we’re asking at least a few hours in advance, if not a couple of days in advance,” Lawrence said. “We want to collapse that window to go from discovering a stream, to putting it on air, in less than 60 seconds.”

The production tools built into the platform are also a plus for broadcasters, as they help to ensure the end-product is actually TV worthy. This is a notable problem with user-generated live streaming apps such as Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat: most of the live stream broadcasts are pretty boring.

“Human beings aren’t generally spontaneously amazing,” Lawrence said. “That holds true in production, too. My hosts aren’t spontaneously amazing, my camera guys aren’t spontaneously amazing, we have production tools that help us coach them; we put in an ear wig on the hosts; I put a headset on my camera guys.” The app essentially gives these same tools to producers working with live streaming viewers.

Yottio offers something of a compromise between user-generated online content and high-quality live TV production. “We wanted to first bridge that real-time gap, so that we can actually have a conversation with people with a second or less delay,” Lawrence said. “We also wanted to be able to help people be amazing while they’re part of our program.”

NAB Response Shows Broadcaster Are Eager to Try Something New

Lawrence said broadcasters are already eager to try out new technologies to help bolster audience numbers. Yottio received recognition at NAB earlier this year when it won the “Best of Sprockit” award, which identifies the top five start-ups in the industry, as voted on by members of NAB.

Yottio’s first client, a new, music-focused pay TV network Revolt TV (launched by rapper Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs), is gearing up to launch Yottio on one of its music talk shows. Lawrence said there are other interested parties but didn’t give us any names.

“The response we were getting from broadcasters at NAB is, ‘when can we try this in our control rooms,’” Lawrence said. “There’s not a whole lot of arguing about use-case. We’re seeing some broadcasters who have already started undertaking studio remodeling to include user-generated content. They’re saying ‘Okay, we know we have to shift to include user-generated content, but we don’t know how we’re going to do it.’ And we’re going to…

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In This Week’s Edition of The Online Reporter…

The Online Reporter no. 931

TOR931 cover

THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

Charter Pushes Altice aside to Buy Time Warner Cable & Bright House

Yottio Brings Social Live Streaming to Linear TV

TiVo Meanders Along

 

DISRUPTIONS

Altice’s US Goals Look Formidable

3 Companies Could Soon Control 82% of Cableco/Satco TV Revenue

Charter Sees Commercial Opportunity for Its Fiber Network

Google’s Nexus Gets Wi-Fi Calling

Avago’s Acquisition of Broadcom Will Benefit Consumers & Device Makers

 

4K/UHD

Best Buy CEO Looks to UHD TVs as Next Wave

Sky Broadcasts Final Bundesliga Match in 4K

France Television Makes French Open a 4K/UHD Showcase

 

OTT SERVICES, APPS AND SCREENS

Local TV Gets New Life with Internet Television

HBO Studies Price Points to Gain More Subs

Android Devices Gets Periscope

Hulu Shifts Strategy to Partner with Pay TV

Canada’s Showmi OTT Service Cuts Its Pay TV Cord

CBS Will Probably’ Be Part of Apple’s Internet TV Service

 

ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES

BROADBAND BEAT

China’s Massive $182bn Broadband Push Raises Challenges

BT Launches G.fast Customer Tests

Charter’s Proposed Acquisitions Won’t Increase Broadband Competition

 

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

ITU: 3.2b Consumers Are Online in 2015

Snapchat Video Rules Mobile Messaging

Mobile Video to Make Up 70% of Internet Traffic in 2019

Pay TV Will Turn to Internet TV and Skinny Bundles

 

DIGI GRAMS

CE Has Become a Replacement Market

It’s the Mobile Screens and More’

Netflix Now Offers 18 4K Shows

Number 2 Show Is More Valuable’

Snapchat CEO: Data Isn’t Everything

Discovery: TV Biz in US Is a Slog

NBC Believes Binge Viewing Helps Cable Gather Audience for New Series

Hisense: 4K in Walmart Brings UHD Tech to Mass Market

More Shows Than Ever on TV, As Audiences Dwindle

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No TV Set for Apple? No Problem!

– There’s a Bigger Opportunity Elsewhere and with Bigger Margins
– TV’s Problem Is Not the TV Set; It’s the User Interface — the TV’s Brains

So — word has leaked out that Apple will not make UHD TV sets and instead focus on a new Apple TV NTB with major changes and improvements over the current Apple TV NTB.

Why would it do that?

Pick some:
1. Prices for quality UHD sets have dropped so quickly that Apple might have a hard time keeping up (down?).
2. Apple would have to buy UHD displays from rivals Samsung, LG or Sharp.
3. UHD and display technologies are changing too fast to make a long-term, high-quantity commitment to one technology — HDR, upconversion, ultra-thin displays like the one LG is showing off this week, etc.
4. Apple’s value-add can be put entirely in the Apple TV box, which requires a much lower and safer commitment. Look at how long that basically same Apple TV has been around.
5. LG, Samsung and others seem to be moving display technology along quite nicely. Apple did not find any significant value it could add to the display panel.

AppleTV_Main Menu_Movies_US ONLY_PRINT copy

Are Apple engineers working on an 8K TV set project?

 

Let’s also point out that Apple is a very big company and very big companies often have two or more development projects under way simultaneously to see which can come up with the best product. Apple may have another group of engineers working on a TV set; maybe they are even considering an 8K model or a super-thin display.

Had Apple been one of the first with a UHD TV set, it could have set the pace. But, not now because Samsung, LG and, in the States, Vizio have a big lead. That situation has not deterred Apple previously in such markets as portable media players, smartphones and tablets but even then no one competitor totally dominated the market, much less the bevy of Samsung, LG and Vizio.

We omit Sony because we expect its share of the UHD TV market to decline because it can’t keep up with the drops in prices of UHD sets. We expect Sony will only compete in the UHD TV market at the high end — but then that’s where Apple would have aimed its TV set.

One thing that should be worrisome to Apple is that Samsung, LG and Vizio have developed such intuitive and powerful smart TV interfaces for their UHD TV sets that users rarely need to use their Apple TV box — except when they want to access iTunes online or their locally-stored iTunes library — something no one else can do.

Also, media companies are not giving Apple long-term exclusives. Even the much-ballyhooed Apple-HBO deal was exclusive only for a few months. TV set makers have moved into the content distribution market with a vengeance, especially prompted by their need for 4K content. Like many others, Apple underestimated the sudden success of the 4K/UHD market. A year ago almost every major analyst except for The Online Reporter was dismissing the rise of 4K — and some still are — but buyers aren’t.

Samsung, LG and Sony, looking for every reason to entice consumers into buying their UHD sets, went looking for 4K content. All were quick to add icons for apps that stream 4K over an ordinary broadband connection — . As a result they, and 4K latecomer Vizio, have a major lead over Apple in 4K content, which is not available at all on the current Apple TV NTB — although we expect it to be on a future Apple TV NTB. Those apps also a) make it easy for users to stream from OTT services and b) serve up an enormous quantity of 1080p content including some stunning new shows such as Netflix with its “House of Cards” and the new “Bloodline” series with 13 “keep-on-watching” episodes.

One final point: We have been calling for Apple to totally overhaul the Apple TV user interface. Its serial nature — forward, forward, forward and back, back, back — has become tedious to frequent users. The Apple TV now has too many content sources for that old-fashioned linear approach.

Speaking of linear, Apple could use some deals with pay TV channels to offer linear TV although the lack of a DVR function in the Apple TV negates that to some extent. TiVo has, to the best of our knowledge, done the best job of integrating pay TV/DVR/OTT. Its search function even looks at all there sources. TiVo also has models that function with OTA local TV stations, something that appeals to cord cutters who still want to watch/record the national TV networks NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS.

Perhaps Apple will add an “in-the-cloud” DVR function, which would also make it easy for users of Apple’s mobile devices to watch their recorded shows anytime, anywhere.

No TV set for Apple? No problem! Integrating linear TV, OTT and DVR functions into an easy-to-use interface that also supports mobile delivery — that’s right up Apple’s alley — the brains of TV sets and able to work with every TV set, not just its own. It will be an immediate hit with consumers who are tired of manually switching sources on the TV to view content and of using multiple remotes. The market for a TV’s brains are much larger that the market for TV sets and the market for selling and renting content has much, much better margins than the TV sets, especially these days when TV set makers and retailers are in a cutthroat war for dominance in UHD TVs…

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Broadband Suppliers Get Ready for 10 Gbps Era

“Whatever will we do with all that broadband speed?” you ask. Some (including an AT&T executive) once scoffed at homes ever needing 1 Mbps and now many are clamoring for 100 Mbps. Broadband speed has been a “build it and they will come” phenomena.

Recent conversations with various industry executives during and after the cablecos INTX trade show held earlier this month about their broadband plans seem to indicate:

1. Telcos are investing time and money to increase the broadband speeds they can offer in competition against the cabelcos’ faster DOCSIS broadband. To do that, they have accelerated their plans to deploy, as soon as it is available, the copper-wire based G.fast, currently said to be capable of 500 Mbps — and especially to MDUs where installing new wires (ie fiber) is often near-impossible and certainly very expensive. G.fast backers say it’s ultimately capable of 1 Gbps over short distances of copper wire. So far only Swisscom and BT have publicly committed to G.fast but another 30 or so telcos are said to be in various stages of testing and planning to deploy G.fast. Vectoring deployments are continuing and some telcos such AT&T are also building all-fiber networks in parts of their footprint where there is competition with fiber-like speeds.

2. Cablecos, who are still in the process of deploying DOCSIS 3.1 broadband, are accelerating their plans to deploy gigabit FTTH (PON) networks as shown by Cox’s public commitment to install fiber into every subscriber’s home in its footprint. It is increasingly obvious that there will not be a successor to DOCSIS 3.1 and that all-fiber networks are the cablecos’ next generation of broadband. All-fiber deployments will be costly because cablecos will need to install fiber from the neighborhood node, replacing coax, all the way into the home and also replace all the equipment from headend to the customers’ modem/router/gateway. The justification is the increasing profits that cablecos are making from their broadband businesses.

 

Fibre-optic_cable_in_a_Telstra_pit

Broadband deployment makes for costly investment

 

The next question is what is coming after gigabit FTTH. Suppliers of broadband gear to cablecos are developing FTTH equipment specifically for cablecos that have speeds up to 10 Gbps, speeds that few can think of reasons for why it’s needed, but which most concede is inevitable in an Internet-connected world.

In addition to residential broadband, cablecos are also competing against telcos for the business market, which typically needs much higher speeds than consumers.

The FTTH gear that cablecos install has one specific requirement that telcos don’t need in their FTTH gear. It must be compatible with cablecos’ existing DOCSIS networks because the evolution to all-fiber networks will take years, perhaps a decade or more for some.

Alcatel-Lucent and ADTRAN have developed products that meet the industry standard 10 gigabit fiber-optic services that will bring much, much higher broadband speeds to homes.

 

AlcaLu Expands Its Line of 10 Gbps Fiber Gear with DOCSIS-compatible/EPON

Alcatel-Lucent says its new FX-12 product for cablecos extends its 10 gigabit FTTH “to more businesses and households and highlights its focus on driving ultra-broadband, IP and the cablecos’ evolution to the cloud.” It said the FX-12 platform, which joins its 7360 ISAM FX product family, shows AlcaLu’s “leadership and investment in fiber-based ultra-broadband access solutions” for cablecos and expands its prior introduction of an EPON platform designed specifically for cablecos’ networks.

The other 7360 FX products are the FX-8 and FX-4.

 

AlcaLu FX-12

Alcatel-Lucent’s FX-12 for cablecos

 

AlcaLu said FX-12 can be optimized for the deployment of EPON, both 10G and 1G, in cablecos’ networks. It supports an important feature for cablecos —“DOCSIS provisioning of EPON (DPoE),” which enables cablecos to support EPON broadband technology while still using their existing DOCSIS-based back office systems and processes.

AlcaLu says DPoE is “the bridge between regular EPON and DOCSIS systems. DPoE 1.0 defines a virtual cable modem structure so that DOCSIS OSSs ‘think’ they are communicating with a cable modem on a CMTS system.”

All 7630 FX products are designed to provide 10G EPON with DPoE for outdoor, ruggedized deployment scenarios as well as hub office locations.

AlcaLu’s fixed networks product manager Els Baert says the forces that are driving the increasing demand by cablecos’ subscribers for residential bandwidth are:
– The proliferation of connected devices, including TVs, smart phones and tablets.
– Competitors building out gigabit networks over fiber.
– The dramatic expansion of over-the-top applications.

She said, “Adding to the urgency for cable MSOs is the evolution to higher quality video, such as 4K resolution. This is driving the need for more and more residential IP access bandwidth.”

Federico Guillén, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s fixed access business line said: “Alcatel-Lucent sees a growing opportunity to address the needs of cable MSOs as they move to embrace fiber-based ultra-broadband access, IP and cloud networking technologies.”

Further details (from Alcatel-Lucent’s ‘Techzine’ site) here.

 

ADTRAN Gear Allows 1 Gbps & 10 Gbps Networks to Coexist

Businesses and other organizations typically need higher broadband speeds before the residential market does. Until now, that has caused telcos to deploy and support two different fiber (PON) technologies — 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps – that could not previously coexist with each other.

ADTRAN says its newest fiber products will accelerate the deployment of the next-generation 10 Gbps-capable NG-PON2 services “by transforming the economic paradigm that typically relegates new technologies to niche or premium services delivery for several years because of higher cost points.”

The new products use the latest 10 Gbps wavelength symmetric ITU/FSAN standards-based technology. They enable service providers for the first time to support both existing residential FTTH at speeds of up to 1 Gbps and business adopters of next-generation 10 Gbps networks on a single, common-access architecture.

That extends the life of the FTTH network. ADTRAN said its traffic engineering studies show that NG-PON2 can double the life of a FTTH network used for converged 1 Gbps residential and business services while providing an architecture that supports cost-effective 10G business and backhaul services delivery.

“ADTRAN’s NG-PON2 implementation has the potential to advance the adoption of 10G FTTP for residential markets by three to five years, while its increased capacity will double the life of the network,” said Jeff Heynen, research director for broadband access and pay TV at IHS’s Infonetics Research. “NG-PON2’s initial rollout was thought to primarily benefit premium business and backhaul services because of its much higher cost over GPON FTTP solutions.”

Service providers face several challenges as they look for ways to scale their existing PON networks to meet the growing bandwidth demand from residential and business customers, ADTRAN said. The high cost of 10G optical components today is a limiting factor in making this a reality for the highly competitive, mass market of residential services delivery.

ADTRAN’s technology allows the two systems to interoperate.

The new architecture is available for demonstration and will…

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New UHD Blu-ray Format Won’t Slow Growth of OTT Services

Surely the universal availability of the cloud and ubiquitous broadband will make the new UHD Blu-ray format the last standard ever developed for physical media.

OTT services are the best and only way for consumers to watch 4K titles, so far at least. Wireline pay TV services — cablecos and telcos alike — have not made a public commitment to broadcasting linear 4K TV — only selling/renting 4K titles that are streamed to users over the Net just like the OTT services. Only DirecTV to our knowledge has publicly committed to 4K and its exact plans are not known such as whether it’ll be more that selling and renting 4K titles.

Could it be that the new 4K/UHD Blu-ray discs will threaten the OTT’s 4K monopoly?

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) this week announced it will begin licensing Ultra HD Blu-ray products this summer and it’s working with the industry to get 4K content and Ultra HD Blu-ray products to market. Some months back it said there would be UHD Blu-Ray players in stores by year-end and there is nothing in the announcement that creates doubts about that happening.

However, as best we could tell at this year’s CES, Panasonic was the only company showing a prototype of a UHD Blu-ray player — strange for a new category of product that’s expected in stores by year-end. You’d normally expect to see lots of prototypes and announcements.

The UHD Blu-ray Logo

It’s noteworthy that the UltraHD Blu-ray logo does not contain “4K” but the BDA gave no explanation.

UHD Blu-ray logo

The BDA said the new format will include all the latest video standards and that players will also be backwards compatible with existing Blu-ray discs of which there are more than 10,000.

The BDA said the UHD Blu-ray format includes everything most would expect:
– 3840×2160 resolution
– Support for an expanded color range
– HDR (high dynamic range)
– High frame rate up to 60fps
– “Next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats,” which it did not name. So far there are two: DTS:X and Dolby Atmos
– The UltraViolet-like “digital bridge feature” that allows consumers to watch titles that they have purchased on a Blu-ray disc anytime, anywhere and on any devices, especially on mobile devices.

UHD Blu-ray discs can hold up to 100GB of data so the format may have uses in the IT industry. However, even that industry is moving away from physical media for storage and the cloud has become the norm.

The BDA said it’s “working closely with industry leaders in the authoring, testing, certification and replication industries to develop the tools and process needed to ensure interoperability between players and software and to facilitate the development of a robust ecosystem to support the hardware and title launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray.”

Victor Matsuda, chair of the BDA Promotions Committee, said in a statement, “For years, Blu-ray Disc has set the standard for high definition picture and audio quality in the home. Ultra HD Blu-ray will do the same for UHD home entertainment. The technical capabilities of Blu-ray Disc, in particular its significant storage capacity and high data transfer rates, will enable the delivery of an unparalleled, consistent and repeatable UHD experience.”

Matsuda did not use the term “4K” in his statement.

The BDA did not mention:
– The approximate price range for UHD Blu-ray players
– The companies that have

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FX Network Seeks to Address the Broadband-Only Market

21st Century Fox’s premium pay TV network FX is eyeing distribution models that target the growing pool of broadband-only consumers, according to FX Network president John Landgraf.

“I think we need to get to the consumer,” he said, speaking on a panel of pay TV content owners at the Internet and Television Expo (INTX) this month.

He added that cord-cutting “isn’t as ubiquitous as people think it is,” but emphasized the importance of the broadband-only crowd.

“The number of broadband-only customers was small, and now it’s gotten to be a large enough share of the market that each of us who has a national consumer brand has to pay attention to that smaller segment of the market that’s only broadband,” he said. “We have a group of 10 million homes and it’s going to grow to 20 million probably by 2020, and we have to figure out how to get there.”

Landgraf outlined a number of options for content companies to reach these consumers: “Direct to them is one path, but there’s also a path that goes through broadband, as an evolution of our existing relationships,” he said. This seems to be the consensus among pay TV networks who are looking to reach the viewers that aren’t watching linear TV: use the same partners, but over different distribution networks.

FX, like many other pay TV stakeholders have demonstrated, is keen to preserve the status quo for as long as possible, and perhaps at the expense of exploring new distribution models. Landgraf noted FX has been “focused very aggressively on preserving the first window for our cable partners,” via in-season stacking rights and TV Everywhere apps.

JohnLandgrafAug2011

FX Network’s John Landgraf: eyeing broadband options

 

Owning original content outright is an integral part of FX Network’s future strategy. “There’s a lot of nonlinear consumption of the very best content,” Landgraf said. “Fortunately for us, we also own a lot that content, so we benefit from the consumption that’s happening after our market.”

He said the high demand for FX’s and others’ serialized shows on SVoD platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others is essentially replacing syndication in the back-end marketplace. In the face of declining linear ratings and un-responsive advertising metrics, that SVoD licensing revenue has become an important piece of FX’s content business. “We’re in partnership with content creators, and they’re going to go to where they can get the most creative freedom, the best marketing, and they’re going to get paid the best,” he said. “Those syndication revenues, which are increasingly domestically SVoD revenues, are absolutely critical for being able to compensate artists.”

Speaking of advertising, Landgraf said the fundamental advertising model is “due for massive re-invention.”

“Ultimately what the consumer is telling us is they’re not willing to give us 15 minutes of their time to watch 45 minutes of our content,” he said. “I think they are willing to give us quality time for a relevant ad, and I’m actually very bullish and very excited about the advertising business’s ability to …

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OTT Industry Threatened by Faulty Wi-Fi

– Consumers Dissatisfied with Home’s Wi-Fi Network
– Want the Dependability & Quality of a Wireline Network

Consumers, spoiled by the flicker-free channels of pay TV, will not tolerate OTT videos that start-stop and hiccup.

No spinning wheels for them! They’ll quickly go back to watching pay TV.

 

blond-157426_1280

That sinking feeling

 

Much has been written in the press about poor broadband speeds holding back the growth of OTT, especially the coming evolution to 4K, but the bigger barrier may be the poor performance of the home’s Wi-Fi.

Everyone is familiar with a mobile phone’s varying performance but tolerates it because there is no other choice.

Consumers have another choice for flickering OTT videos — pay TV.

There are solutions and the OTT companies should be enlightening their subscribers about the problems of Wi-Fi and that there are easy-to-install solutions.

Upgrading to faster broadband won’t solve the problem.

The study of 1,000 US broadband households with a Wi-Fi network showed that nearly 40% have had and/or are currently experiencing problems with their Wi-Fi network.

Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) members propose eliminating Wi-Fi’s problems by using the home’s existing coax wiring, something that already connects most of the frequently used rooms where people use fixed and mobile devices —including in many cases kitchens, bathrooms and patios.

MoCA’s suggested solution: Purchase and install MoCA-to-Wi-Fi-adapters in rooms where Wi-Fi is weak. The adapters allow Wi-Fi-only devices such as tablets and smartphones to connect to a strong Wi-Fi signal. Unlike a few years ago when consumers first needed this solution, there are now a number of such MoCA-to-Wi-Fi adapters available at retail. Amazon.com offers a number of them from equipment makers such as Actiontec, Netgear, ChannelMaster, TrendNet and ReadyNet. However, most consumers are not aware that such solutions exist or are so easy to install.

More details about the survey’s findings are:
– 87% of those experiencing problems have experienced a slow connection or a dead zone
– 63% continue to experience these problems despite efforts to resolve them. The result: about 15 million households that continue to experience dead zones or slow wireless connections despite upgrades to Internet service or in-home equipment such as the purchase of a new router.
– 27% of respondents who experience an issue report that the problem can be attributed, at least in part, to too many devices connected to the Internet at the same time.

More than one-half of respondents experiencing Wi-Fi problems would be “very comfortable” using a wired solution to improve the performance of their network. Which of their home’s existing wires would respondents be comfortable using — in the 5 to 7 range on a scale of 1 to 7.
– Coax 58%
– Electrical 56%
– Ethernet/Cat-5 52%
However, few homes have an Ethernet/Cat 5 network.

Details of the report are at: www.mocalliance.org

How widespread is the Wi-Fi problem? Parks Associates estimates that there are 79 million residences in the States with a home network — 82% of all households with broadband — and that 61 million, or 64%, of broadband households, have a Wi-Fi network.

The problems with Wi-Fi are only going to get worse because the home network’s load will increase as a result of more Internet-connectable devices being used simultaneously and the coming of bandwidth sucking applications such as 4K and telemedicine video streams.

So, what’s the barrier between sellers and their potential buyers? Makers and sellers of wireline network gear — mainly MoCA and HomePlug — have not done an effective job at communicating with consumers that a) they have an affordable solution to Wi-Fi’s problems and that b) consumers can easily use the home’s existing wires.

MoCA president Charles Cerino said, “The willingness by the end user to seek out and use a wired solution for their home network confirms what we have been saying all along—you still need a wire to do the heavy lifting for…

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Swisscom First to Deploy Gear with ‘Standardized’ G.fast Chips

– Speeds up to 500 Mbps
– Using Huawei’s G.fast Gear but G.fast Chipmaker Is Not Known, Yet
– Will Use G.fast Gear in Future Copper Wire Upgrades

Swisscom is using Huawei gear to start upgrading a small number of its subscribers to a G.fast broadband service after trialing the technology in April.

G.fast is the fastest broadband technology for use on copper phone lines.

As it is currently designed, G.fast is said to be capable of speeds up to 500 Mbps although it requires a connection within two hundred or so meters of the residence or MDU to a fiber wire from the central office.

A G.fast capable modems, routers or gateway must also be in the residence.

G.fast proponents say that in time, G. fast will be capable of fiber-like speeds up to 1 Gbps and not require telcos to deploy fiber all the way to the home. Short of all fiber networks, G.fast is the telcos’ best hope to compete against cablecos and against third-party all-fiber (FTTH) networks such as Google Fiber.

Swisscom says it’s the first telco to use G.fast gear that has “”the standardized G.fast chipset.” It did not say whose G.fast chipsets are in the Huawei gear but the guess here is they are either Broadcom’s or Sckipio’s because Ikanos is not believed to be shipping its G.fast chips yet. There is the very real possibility they could be Huawei’s G.fast chips. It might also be that Swisscom and Huawei have not selected the G.fast chips they will use when G.fast deployments begin in 2016.

The first upgrades took place in the village of Bibern – population 250. Swisscom said in a statement, “Since the end of April 2015, the first customers have been able to surf at speeds of up to 500 Mbps even if they do not have an FTTH connection.”

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Swisscom customers: 500 Mbps broadband speeds, FTTH or not

 

Swisscom is in the midst of €1.6 billion upgrade of its broadband network. It had 1.4 million premises connected to its upgraded network (speeds of at least 50 Mbps) at the end of 2014 and hopes to have 2.3 million by the end of 2015. It has been using Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Vectoring and all-fiber technology for its broadband upgrades. G.fast appears to be its third broadband technology and may even replace the Vectoring deployments because of G.fast’s higher speeds. Both Vectoring and G.fast require deploying fiber closer to but not all the way to the home. Both are dependent on the length of the copper wires to the residence for their actual speeds.

Swisscom said Switzerland is ranked first in Europe and third globally for high bandwidth coverage, defined as greater than 10 Mbps.

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Switzerland: high hills; high bandwidth

 

Swisscom told The Online Reporter in August 2014 that it had a two technology approach to its broadband upgrades:
– Vectoring from a fiber-connected cabinet near the residence or an MDU, which it said was capable of up to 100 Mbps
– Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), which it said could provide about 1 Gbps

Swisscom now says it intends to start using G.fast gear to upgrade all of its fiber-to-the-building (MDUs) and fiber-to-the-street deployments in early 2016. During the interim period, Swisscom said, it will work with Huawei, whom it called its technology partner, to optimize its network for G.fast.

If it has indeed stopped using Alcatel-Lucent’s vectoring gear, it will be a blow to AlcaLu and a boost for Huawei – and also for whoever’s G.fast chips are in those Huawei boxes.

Until deployments begin, the Swisscom network will be optimized for

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Comcast’s Q1 Numbers Clearly Show the Future Is Broadband

– And Comcast Knows It

The future of TV is clearly seen in one set of quarterly numbers from Comcast, the world’s largest pay TV service: The future is broadband delivered content as attested to by the fact that for the first time, the total number of Comcast’s broadband subscribers – 22.369 million – is about the same as its pay TV subscribers – 22.375 million. During the current quarter, broadband subscribers are expected to exceed pay TV subscribers.

The company added 407,000 broadband subscribers in the prior quarter but lost 8,000 pay TV subscribers.

In revenue, the numbers are reversed. Comcast’s pay TV revenue for the quarter was $5.3 billion while its broadband revenue was $3 billion. However, offsetting the higher pay TV revenue is the cost of acquiring content, which some have estimated as high as 80% or more of revenue. There are no content costs in broadband because the OTT services provide it without any costs charged to broadband service providers, whose financial obligations are to build and maintain a reliable network. That is something they are already doing so the actual network cost can probably be prorated 50/50.

Neil Smit Comcast

Comcast CEO, Cable, Neil Smit believes broadband subscriber numbers can still grow

 

Comcast said its 10% increase in earnings in the first quarter was largely due to its broadband business, another indication of broadband’s profitability. Comcast’s cable group stressed the increasing importance of its broadband business. Revenue in the unit increased to $11.4 billion in the quarter, up 6.3% compared with the same period last year.

In the end, pay TV companies, except satcos, will be measured on how well they do at broadband – number of subscribers, available bandwidth speed, percentage of passed homes with its highest speeds, customer satisfaction, reliability (uptime and consistent speeds) and such. At that, Comcast and most cablecos and all-fiber services are doing very well indeed.

Comcast’s CEO for cable operations Neil Smit said there are more opportunities for growth in broadband. He said, “We believe we’re increasing share, and the market is growing,” he said. The company is using broadband as a way to get its foot in the door and it then sells broadband subscribers other services.

Comcast’s 22 plus million broadband subscribers make it the US’ largest broadband service. AT&T and the other copper-wire based telcos must wonder how they let the wireline broadband market slip away from them – although most of them excel in cellular services. That is another area in which the cablecos are eyeing and are in the process of building a nationwide network of Wi-Fi hotspots that are free to their broadband subscribers. If the cablecos can successfully do that, cellcos will be forced to radically change their business models – and not to their financial well-being.

Comcast lost its recent bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, whose subscribers badly needed Comcast’s pay TV and broadband technology. Comcast has moved on. Its CEO, Brian Roberts, said that Comcast’s top priorities now are to advance its existing business and improve its customer service. Roberts said the company has no plans to expand its US footprint, enlarge its international businesses or expand into the traditional cellular market.

Roberts said, “We’re always open-minded. We’ve always been, however, I think extremely disciplined and focused on building shareholder value. And right now, we’re back to work and there’s nothing that I could think of that we don’t have on our plate that I’m excited about.”

And the most exciting one for Comcast must be …

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Nomads CEO Gives Insight to Streaming Stutters and Stops

While content owners and video distributors are exploring live streaming as part of Internet TV services or TV Everywhere offerings, these companies haven’t had much luck in handling high demand for their online video services.

The Online Reporter asked Andrej Kostresevic, CEO of Nomads, to shed some light on obstacles to live streaming TV and the future of Internet TV services.

Nomads is a mobile engineering and innovation consultancy company. “We take rapid innovation methodology and take that to enterprise,” Kostresevic told us. “Our specialty is over-the-top video delivery products on multi-screens.” Nomads targets content owners and video distributors for its services. Kostresevic “vaguely hinted” at a few of its clients, which include “one of the top US sports leagues” and a “top broadcast distributor in the US.”

Twin trends in the OTT space are a new push among traditional TV distributors to deliver live linear content online (see: HBO Now, HBO Go, CBS All Access, and Dish Network’s Sling TV); and the tendency for those sites to crash during peak demand. We asked Kostresevic to elucidate what problems these companies are having in their respective live streaming endeavors.

 

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When live streams crash… 

(apologies de la Touche)

 

“We watch this very closely and spend a lot of time thinking about it,” Kostresevic said. “The recent problems of crashes during peak demand really shouldn’t be an issue. The scale that [they] are delivering currently is something that should be handled very easily.”

Despite what some media companies would have you believe, Kostresevic said it’s not a technology problem. “It’s not caused by any real limitations in infrastructure – it’s not a problem with the Internet not being ready for prime time,” he said. “It’s a problem of execution, architecture and implementation.”

While content delivery networks (CDNs) are better suited to carry on-demand files, live streaming doesn’t present much of an obstacle, Kostresevic said, thanks to the advent of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), a live streaming protocol that helps ease delivery of the content across CDNs. “HLS takes a stream of live video content and breaks it up into small chunks, transcodes them at different bitrates, and then streams those files out to the clients based on what their connection can handle,” he said. “With the advent of HLS, live streaming becomes no different than VoD delivery.”

That means there’s nothing special about live streaming video on a CDN, but problems can arise getting the video to the CDN. “Where problems might occur is: Is the media company doing the right things to get their media into the CDN?” he said “Are there bottlenecks there?”

Despite this fact, media companies will often blame interruptions in live streaming on high demand, but Kostresevic said the issue more likely resides in their own processing.

 

CDN Architectures for High Demand and Long Tail Content

CDN architecture can also have an important impact on the success or failure of an online video event, particularly for the large tent pole type events such as the Super Bowl, the World Cup or the Olympics, when large numbers of users are trying to access to the same piece of content.

“There is a difference between the long tail content versus single high demand content, in terms of how to architect it for scaling it,” Kostresevic said. Netflix’s library content, or Amazon’s or Hulu’s or even YouTube’s, is filled with long tail content, meaning there is a large library of content, and each title is being consumed by niche groups of users.

“There are some popular pieces of content, but they’re generally not consumed in real-time, and their bandwidth utilization is spread across a large library of content,” Kostresevic said.

For high-demand, big live events, such as the Super Bowl, or an awards ceremony, there will be many users across a geography looking to access the same piece of content.

“CDNs have different architectures, and can be suited for one of those contexts or another,” he said. A CDN takes a piece of content and distributes it to the edge, which is a series of nodes strategically located to be very close to where the end user is.

Take Akamai for example: “They have a very large number of small point-of-presence nodes,” he said. That means something like 90% of Internet users are a single-network-hop away from an Akamai edge node.

“If you’re distributing a single large file, this is a great way to distribute it,” Kostresevic said. “You get the content cached at all the edge nodes that the people are hitting and [the content] is there and ready to be consumed when the user is looking for them.”

Most other CDNs have an architecture comprised of a small number of point-of-presence nodes that are very powerful, which is more suited for Netflix-style video libraries. “When distributing long tail content, the chances that a user in your neighborhood will be going through a micronode for the same piece of content that someone has already looked up is very low,” he said.

“If you have a mix of content, we recommend a hot-swappable CDN infrastructure where one type of content goes through one CDN and the other goes through the other types of CDNs,” he added.

 

The Downstream Traffic Deluge

Still, there is another problem brewing, as more viewers begin watching more video online, more frequently.

Netflix accounted for 35% of Internet traffic last year in the US. YouTube and Netflix together account for 50% of US Internet traffic. Total video traffic represented 65% of all Internet traffic last year, Kostresevic said.

“In terms of video viewing hours, only a small subset of all hours of video watched is being delivered OTT, it already consumes over half of the Internet traffic,” Kostresevic said. “So what would happen if all video viewing shifted over night to OTT? Downstream traffic would go up several orders of magnitude.”

He said he’s not sure if ISPs in the US could handle that amount of traffic. “I don’t have an answer, I have a question: what will happen when this traffic goes up tenfold?” he said. “Something will need to change…”

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