MobiTV to Launch Net-Top Box for Cellcos

by Kendra Chamberlain

-Android-Based HDMI Dongle for the TV Set
-Connects to the Cellular Network

MobiTV and hardware company Jabil Circuit teamed up to create an HDMI dongle for cellcos to brand and give to their subscribers to use to access services – such as content – on the living room TV set.


MobiTV grab

MobiTV multi-screen solutions


MobiTV is known for its cloud-based multi-screen solutions for wireless operators. MobiTV is behind all the tier-1 cellcos’ multi-screen video services, including AT&T’s mobile TV, Sprint TV, US Cellular TV, T-Mobile TV, and Verizon’s NFL streaming service. In Europe, MobiTV is also behind Deutsche Telekom’s multi-screen features for its IPTV service.

The HDMI dongle is one of MobiTV’s first forays into hardware releases. Rick Herman, chief strategy officer at MobiTV, told The Online Reporter that MobiTV is looking to offer its cellular customers a way to bring their services into the living room. “The idea is that you have an HDMI dongle connected to a broadband wireless network in the home, and that allows the delivery of television and this multi-screen experience beyond the carrier’s [network],” Herman said.

Herman said in-home service delivery is a logical evolution for cellcos. “If you’re a wireless operator and you’ve built out these robust next generation networks everywhere [across the country], the last missing piece of the puzzle for your customer experience is that living room experience,” he said.

The Dongle Details
There aren’t many details available about the dongle yet. Herman said it will be Android-based, but didn’t give us any hints as to the chipset or specific features, aside from the fact that the NTB will be made by Jabil Circuit.

The dongle affords a cellular operator a number of advantages for expanding service inside the home:

-It’s a relatively inexpensive ticket to the TV screen. “Instead of having to deploy a real expensive STB, you can do a light STB and put all of the intelligence in the cloud,” Herman said. “They [cellcos] don’t have to deploy a big fiber network, they don’t have to roll out a truck to install.”

-It makes good use of mobile devices for navigation and content discovery. “It centers the experience around what they’re really good at: mobile experience,” Herman said.

-It can capitalize on the operator’s brand. The dongle can be rebranded to suit the operator’s taste. “It allows the operator to continue to brand that experience, they own and control the UX,” Herman said. “They already have a deep customer billing relationship with all these mobile subscribers. It’s a natural for them to extend their service into the living room.”

-It will increase ARPU. “Now [cellcos] can get a piece of that in-home television viewing revenue, instead of relying on data plans and mobile services,” he said. Potential revenue streams include VoD sales or rentals (for example, a Verizon-type cellco could stream a Redbox Instant-like OTT service to the TV set via its own dongle), and ad-supported, linear-like video programming delivery.

-It can offer more than just video content. The service will be able to handle media center features, personal media, cloud services and gaming. “It’s a matter of what connected services the operator wants to offer into the home, using this and our connected media player as the backbone,” Herman said.

-It can be integrated into future service offerings, such as automation and home security, which cellcos are slowly advancing towards. If a wireless operator begins building a base of viewers in the living room now by leveraging the existing cellular broadband services in the home, “then when you roll out your additional ‘next gen’ services, you can really work from a position of strength,” Herman said.

The dongle uses MobiTV’s Connected Media Solution. “We have a very good software platform that can deliver television and media to any IP-based device,” Herman said. “That’s the backbone of the puzzle.”

MobiTV’s multi-screen solution offer content management system that handles DRM encryption and distribution to connected devices. It offers playback across devices, adaptive bitrate streaming, network DVR features, and its own media player.

“We have always been partnered with wireless operators, so we have always been very mindful of efficient use of network resources,” Herman said. “A lot of what we do is focused on minimizing network impact while maximizing video quality.” Sounds perfect for a cellco pay TV service.


Will It Support LTE Broadcast?

We don’t know if the dongle will support LTE Broadcast, also known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS), which enables cellcos to deliver video content over an LTE network to subscribers using multicast technology. LTE Broadcast offers cellcos a pathway towards delivering a full-fledged national pay TV service, delivered over their LTE networks to mobile devices. There has been one commercial launch of such a service by telco KT Corp in South Korea.

A limitation on such an LTE-delivered pay TV service is that the video content can only be delivered to LTE Broadcast-capable devices, which are currently being made in limited demonstration quantities by manufacturers such as Samsung. The KT Corp video service, for example, is available only on Samsung Galaxy tablets that have LTE Broadcast-enabled chips in them. LTE Broadcast devices and dongles available for the TV set, or even LTE Broadcast-capable TVs, would make an LTE-delivered pay TV service a much more appealing service option.

Herman wouldn’t give …

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