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GTFan

join:2004-12-03

2 edits
reply to miscDude

Re: [STB] Cisco thinking of getting out of the set-top box busin

said by miscDude:

said by GTFan:

Yes, I understand that completely. I use Tivos and WMC with Cablecards. I just wanted to know why Comcast is so far behind the curve here, but I can see from what miscDude posted that the least common denominator is indeed what they're stuck with.

True, there are a ton of great features some of us would love to see/have on our cable box which are even readily available on non-MSO platforms today. But there is a HUGE number of Cable Subscribers who just don't like change of ANY sort.

some perfect real life examples we have seen here from threads started up over the past couple years....

The Digital Conversion/DTA's. Seems a no-brainer to most of us. Analog is a bandwidth hog and we'd love to see the extra internet speeds and more HD content. But how many people have we seen come in here bitching about the "new box they need to hook up" or the fact they have 8 TV's and Comcast is only giving them 2 free DTA's?

Poor example IMO, because those complaints were perfectly valid to me. You had a large number of customers that suddenly found out they needed boxes for 'cable-ready' sets when they didn't need to before. I understand the reason why, but you have to look at it from the customer's point of view - something they got for free was taken away.

Same applies for the new effort to encrypt basic cable - people are going to be understandably pissed when they have to get boxes for every TV when clear HD QAM was working just fine for them.

I guess I'm proving your point, but not because of change in general - for both of these cases the issue is about the need for a box, not changes on the box itself. Comcast is woefully behind the curve on deployed DVR/STB features, but you are correct that most people just don't care.


telcodad
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join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
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I was one of those Luddites who resisted the transition to digital cable.

I had 6 "cable-ready" CRT TVs around my home and did not want to have to use a box for each TV.

That's why I stayed with cable instead of going to satellite TV (and FiOS, which while initially had some basic channels in NTSC analog, they later went all-digital).

After a while, some of my favorite cable channels got moved to digital, so I eventually broke down and signed up for digital service. I got a few boxes for the main TVs (family room, kitchen and den), but left the others directly connected to receive just the basic-tier analog channels.

I eventually replaced some of the CRT TVs with new flat-panel ones with clear QAM tuners, so they were able to receive the limited-basic tier of digital channels without a box.

However, the channel numbers they displayed were strange - instead of showing "11-1" they would show something like "85-10" (due to PSIP issues with the QAM signals).

Then, when Project Calvary came to our area recently, I had to get DTAs for the remaining CRT TVs to be able to see anything at all on them.

Now there's talk of encrypting even the limited-basic digital channels. This will mean I will need to add boxes to even my new flat-panel TVs.

I have to admit that going digital gave me more HD channels, on-screen channel guides, and clearer reception. And I know that going all-digital has freed-up spectrum to provide me all those new HD channels and higher speed HSI service, so I guess I can't complain.


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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Today, Ericsson announced it has offered to acquire the Broadcast Services Division of Technicolor, headquartered in France, for about $25 million.

See: »www.ericsson.com/thecompany/pres···/1593417

And:

Ericsson to expand managed services with acquisition of Technicolor’s Broadcast Services
Broadcast Engineering - March 13, 2013
»blog.broadcastengineering.com/bl···ervices/

"Thomson Multimedia bought the Broadcast Services Division of Technicolor in 2000. In March of 2011 the company changed its name to Technicolor and sold off its Thomson Video Networks business (encoders, multiplexers, video servers and other head-end equipment) to the Fonds de Consolidation et de Développement des Entreprises (FCDE). A consortium of major banks and insurance companies based in France funds the FCDE."

Is this the division that provides the Thomson DTAs to Comcast?

If so, the recent articles by Jeff Baumgartner on the Light Reading Cable site have said this about Technicolor and Ericsson possibly acquiring the cable box businesses of SA from Cisco or Motorola from Google:

"Technicolor SA -
It's done well as a source of Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices, and there are rumors that it could become a second source for Comcast's next-gen X1 platform. But Technicolor's U.S. box strategy just hasn't set the cable world on fire. It's got the technical chops, but can it thrive in a low-margin world?"

"Ericsson AB -
They've been looking for ways to deepen their relationship with cable, so this offers them a perfect opportunity to do so. It's not too hard to see them wanting to buy the whole division and integrating and managing it. Plus, the cable guys trust them."


cypherstream
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join:2004-12-02
Reading, PA
kudos:3
Hmm are they really thinking of getting out of the set top business? Well then why are they considering purchasing NDS »www.broadbandtvnews.com/2012/03/···urchase/ ?

NDS Software and assets would work great on their STB's. Unless they plan to spin this off into a new entity that just does cable and satellite hardware & software.


telcodad
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join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
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Yes, that would not make sense, as Cisco says this deal will accelerate the delivery of its Videoscape platform:

Cisco pays $5B for NDS Group
FierceIPTV - March 15, 2012
»www.fierceiptv.com/story/cisco-p···12-03-15

"Cisco has reached a deal to acquire pay-TV software maker NDS Group Holdings, confirming earlier rumors from an Israeli newspaper. Cisco will pay approximately $5 billion, including the assumption of debt and retention-based incentives, to acquire all of the business and operations of NDS.

NDS is a provider of video software and content security solutions for pay-TV operators and supports TV everywhere and over-the-top initiatives. It currently counts DirecTV, British Sky Broadcasting Corp., Canal Plus and other pay-TV operators among its customers.

Cisco said the deal will accelerate its delivery of Videoscape, its platform designed to enable service providers to deliver next-generation entertainment experiences. NDS already has a solid customer footprint in emerging markets like China and India, which will help Cisco broadens its own reach with service providers there.

"Our strategy has always been driven by customer need and on capturing market transitions," said Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers. "Our acquisition of NDS fits squarely into this strategy, enabling content and service providers to deliver new video solutions that leverage the cloud and drive new monetization opportunities and service differentiation."

Cisco has made a number of recent acquisitions in recent months to support Videoscape, among them Inlet Technologies and BNI Video. The NDS deal, Cisco said, will address issues including end-user viewing client and content security solutions. NDS also brings a significant amount of systems integration expertise to the table. All, said Cisco, will accelerate the delivery of Videoscape."


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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An analysis of what the NDS acquisition brings to Cisco from the Light Reading Cable site:

Cisco May Bag NDS for $5B
Light Reading Cable - March 15, 2012
»www.lightreading.com/document.as···r_cable&

"NDS generates most of its business from VideoGuard, a video security and conditional access system used by pay-TV companies, and counts Cablevision Systems Corp. as its key U.S. cable MSO customer. Cisco has its own conditional access system, PowerKey, that came through its purchase of Scientific Atlanta, but NDS could help Cisco fill an important gap, as NDS has developed a downloadable version of its encryption system that can help lower the cost of set-top boxes and secure TV Everywhere services being delivered to tablets, PCs, TVs, smartphones and other connected devices. NDS would also give Cisco's video business a big boost as it looks to expand internationally."

As the FierceIPTV article says "Cisco said the deal will accelerate its delivery of Videoscape, its platform designed to enable service providers to deliver next-generation entertainment experiences."

So, maybe Cisco is thinking of just spinning-off the STB part of the SA group, as you said, and keeping the OTT part, including its Videoscape platform?

As the original NY Post article said:

"Cisco has said it’s moving from set-top boxes to videoscape, a product built on technology gained from Scientific-Atlanta that allows media companies to deliver content through the cloud to smart phones and tablets."


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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A posting about this on Cisco's blog site this morning:

How the Acquisition of NDS Accelerates Cisco’s Video Entertainment Strategy
By Marthin De Beer, Senior Vice President
March 15, 2012
»blogs.cisco.com/news/how-the-acq···trategy/

"It’s impossible to argue with the transformational power of video, but perhaps the most noticeable changes are happening right in our own homes, and on our mobile devices.

Television has been truly transformed in the past decade, from a one-way inflexible viewing experience, to a highly dynamic one, which can be time-shifted and enjoyed on an increasing array of digital video devices. But this is only the beginning of an exciting journey.

While clearly a substantial acquisition and major landmark in Cisco’s history in its own right, today’s acquisition is the latest in a series of milestones for Cisco’s Videoscape strategy. Videoscape is Cisco’s vision and platform for the creation of new visual, mobile and social video entertainment experiences through the convergence of digital TV, online content, and social media and video communications applications.

This video market transition is of critical importance to our service provider customers (a segment that provides a third of all Cisco revenues) and to our overall multi-billion dollar video business. NDS will complement and accelerate the delivery of our Videoscape platform to customers and transform how service providers and media companies deliver next-generation video experiences to subscribers worldwide."


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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A blog item on the Light Reading Cable site this morning, on the implications of Cisco's deal to acquire NDS:

Cisco's Video Game-Changer
By Jeff Baumgartner, Light Reading Cable - March 16, 2012
»www.lightreading.com/blog.asp?bl···r_cable&

"Cisco Systems Inc. is trying to change the rules of the game.

Its $5 billion play for NDS Ltd., announced Thursday, would accelerate the deployment of Videoscape and boost Cisco's expansion into international markets -- if Cisco can pull it off (expect some serious opposition to emerge).

After giving it some thought, here's a breakdown of the deal's implications and how it might alter the domestic and international pay-TV markets.

Bolstering the U.S. duopoly

With NDS entering the mix, Cisco's half of the U.S. cable video security (notice, I did not say set-top box) duopoly it shares with Motorola Mobility Inc. would be significantly strengthened, particularly as MSOs advance their TV Everywhere strategies. The PowerKEY conditional access system Cisco got in the Scientific Atlanta Inc. deal gave Cisco a lock on a chunk of the U.S. cable video encryption market, but the addition of NDS would give it a software-based approach and digital rights management (DRM) components that extend beyond traditional QAM cable boxes and into IP-connected gateways, tablets, smartphones, PCs, TVs and other devices that service providers will support as they apply much more focus on delivering subscription video services to a variety of screen types. Without NDS, Cisco doesn’t have an answer for this new market dynamic.

On the flip side, NDS's downloadable security approach gave MSOs such as Cablevision Systems Corp. a wedge to split up the duopoly and create a potential new security option: It had been rumored that Time Warner Cable Inc. was among some larger operators that had given NDS a close look. But the threat of being unseated by NDS is gone if NDS is in Cisco's hands. If you're an MSO that's been trying to break Cisco's grip on conditional access, is this deal a good thing?

The set-top box

As the key functions of the set-top get integrated into those devices, now would be a great time for Cisco to sell that low-margin component, despite the company's insistence that it's "committed" to the box business. I still think it will remain committed to supplying and designing boxes ... until it's not. And that will be when it finds a willing buyer.

In the U.S, Samsung Corp. is doing some serious competitive damage by applying price pressure on everyone. Why not sell it to them? Samsung clearly wants that business and can live with the margins. And it's good at consumer electronics. Cisco, despite many valiant attempts, simply is not.

Perhaps Cisco will take a cue from NDS -- which has done just fine integrating its software onto boxes from more than 50 manufacturers without owning the hardware. The business is changing. So change.

The Motorola situation

The deal should give Google further cause to sell Motorola Mobility Inc.'s cable business, and not just the set-top box part of it. Google probably won't put the kind of focus on that business that will be required to be successful long-term. MSOs should be hoping that Google sells it to someone that won't let Cisco and NDS run away with the market and hide.

The UI

Cisco designed its own user interface for Videoscape, but the interactive program guide has never been Cisco's strong suit. NDS has Snowflake, an increasingly popular cloud-based interface that extends a common feel across set-tops, tablets and smartphones -- the sort of thing operators want for their TV Everywhere offerings. NDS is already making hay with it internationally, but Cisco, if it successfully integrated it into Videoscape, would be positioned to put pressure on products such as Rovi Corp. 's TotalGuide.

Expanding in the U.S. and beyond

The deal would give Cisco some important, new U.S. accounts, such as DirecTV Group Inc., and shore up its position at Cablevision Systems Corp. and Cox Communications Inc., where NDS has made serious inroads.

But NDS would also boost Cisco's international service provider business. For example, it would put Cisco in the catbird seat at Liberty Global Inc., where NDS has been a key integration partner for the ambitious Horizon gateway project. Cisco would also find itself slotted in at BSkyB Ltd. And those are just two high-profile examples. On the other end, the deal would also extend Cisco a bridge to emerging markets such as China and India, where NDS already has a solid base of customers.

Those are just a few areas of impact that I see as I get my head around this deal."


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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FierceCable interviewed Kip Compton, CTO of Cisco's Video and Collaboration Group, about the NDS deal and the future of its set-top business:

Kip Compton: Cisco's NDS deal will boost MSOs' connected TV plans
FierceCable - March 16, 2012
»www.fiercecable.com/special-repo···tv-plans

"Hours after Cisco announced a $5 billion deal to acquire NDS, FierceCable caught up Thursday with Kip Compton, CTO of Cisco's Video and Collaboration Group. While Compton says the NDS deal will help operators using Cisco's Videoscape software platform deliver programming to connected TVs and other devices, he insists cable set-tops won't go away any time soon.

FierceCable: Does Cisco see NDS as way to deliver subscription video content to connected TVs?

KC: That's absolutely part of it. We're living in this duality right now where service providers want to deliver to the consumers' devices, which may be smart or connected TVs, as well as tablets, PCs, mobile phones and so forth, but still have large installed bases of set-top boxes that they also need to bring into that service mix. So NDS's software solutions enable us to help service providers deliver content and services to set-tops they already have, set-tops they may buy as well as this class of devices that consumers may buy--either the connected TV or something else. We think the ability to do that in a consistent way with a single architecture and a consistent user experience is really valuable and really important going forward.

FC: There's a lot of speculation that Cisco is looking to exit the set-top business. Will Cisco continue to make set-tops, or at least outsource the production of set-tops?

KC: We're not exiting the set-top business. I don't know how much more simply or directly to answer the question. Our customers have told us ... it's going to be a long time. They're not going to show up at a customer's home and say, 'Sorry, you don't have a connected TV so you can't have our service.' There is absolutely a transformation, a shift happening, whether it's smart TVs or other devices, and we are empowering that as part of our Videoscape architecture and strategy since we announced it in early 2011, and NDS propels us much faster down that path. But we anticipate that for many years to come service providers will need set-top boxes because they're going to connect all of the consumers' devices, including existing television sets that don't necessarily have Internet or IP clients in them. They're going to connect all of those to their services."


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
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1 edit
An item on the FierceCable site this morning about a Financial Times analysis of the evolving set-top box market:

Set-top box future remains present concern
FierceCable - March 26, 2012
»www.fiercecable.com/story/set-to···12-03-26

"Following last week's IPTV World Forum in London, the Financial Times offered an analysis of the evolving (or is it still dying?) set-top box market, and discussed the growing threat presented by Internet-connected TVs.

The concern about the future of set-top boxes will sound like nothing new to the cable TV industry, where set-tops have been seen for years as having a limited future potential amid the rise of Internet TVs, residential gateways and other offerings. Yet, the set-top box, while far different from the set-top box that sat atop your 19-inch living room TV 20 years ago, often can still be found in its accustomed spot.

In part, the new talk about the death of the set-top box is being inspired by rumors that companies like Cisco Systems and Google (which acquired Motorola's set-top box business) want out of the market. The Financial Times also points out that some set-top box vendors may not be so lucky as the market gets squeezed, though it is clear that companies like Amino are embracing the hybrid TV trend, while traditional set-top box giants like Pace fortify themselves with acquisition of technologies that will be increasingly important to keeping set-tops viable. The last line of the Financial Times story, in any case, should read like an affirmation for anyone in this sector.

For more:
- here's the Financial Times report (reg. req.)" »www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cb93af76···qBFWIM3S

EDIT: Some excerpts from the Financial Times report:

"The potential concern for the TV set-top box makers at the [IPTV] convention was all around them, albeit in a wireless form: the internet.

As the variety of TV content available over the internet expands, the future market for makers of TV set-top boxes - such as Virgin Media's TiVo and Sky's Plus - has been called into question.

Why would a consumer pay for a subscription to use a set-top box when “smart TVs” allow direct access to internet content, known as over the top (OTT), for free?

The market is being squeezed as consumers shift to downloading TV programmes and videos over the internet from companies such as LoveFilm, Google and Netflix, whilst free content is available from services including the BBC’s iPlayer, Channel Four’s OnDemand and the ITV Player.

Furthermore, BBC’s iPlayer on-demand TV service recently became available on all the UK’s major gaming platforms, including Microsoft’s Xbox360.

The internet TV trend has been touted as a potential killer of set-top box makers, which include Yorkshire[England]-based Pace, the world’s biggest maker of TV set-top boxes by shipments, and Aim-traded Amino Technologies."

“Set-top boxes are still the best way to improve functionality and ensure security,” says Donald McGarva, the new chief executive of Amino.

“It’s still quite a youthful environment for these boxes and OTT – it’s not going to be a binary outcome where one wins and the other loses.”

Such confidence is echoed by Mike Pulli, chief executive of Pace: “OTT is just another mechanism to deliver content. We see [internet TV] as a complementary service rather than a replacement service.”

The other challenge facing set-top box manufacturers is the use of “the cloud” – where content is accessed over the internet.

“The OTT services might lack content but they have shown up pay-TV in terms of the user interface and experience,” says Giles Cottle, principal analyst at Informa.

“Moving to the cloud can enable operators to compete more effectively in these areas.”

Consumers are demanding higher-quality content in various formats (TV, mobile, PC and tablet), and the latest set-top boxes such as those from Amino combine broadcast, on-demand and open internet services.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what will happen in 20 years’ time,” says Amino’s Mr McGarva. “But set-top boxes have been predicted to die many times now. So far, they’re still going strong.”


telcodad
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Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15
In a recent interview with the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cisco CEO John Chambers said that they still have “a huge commitment to video”:

Cisco won’t drop video, says CEO
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - March 24, 2012
»www.ajc.com/business/cisco-wont-···369.html

"Six years after Cisco Systems bought Scientific Atlanta, high-tech giant Cisco says its metro Atlanta acquisition is critical to its efforts to profit off the rising tide of video streaming around the globe.

Cisco has “a huge commitment to video,” John Chambers, Cisco’s longtime CEO and chairman, said in a telephone interview recently after talking to about 1,000 Cisco employees near its Lawrenceville operation, which designs set-top boxes and related devices for cable TV service. The devices are manufactured outside the U.S.

Chambers said video-related traffic is growing exponentially and is expected to account for 91 percent of Internet data flow within three years. Cisco’s Lawrenceville unit will design much of the hardware and software that handles that traffic.

To play a central role in that growing business, Cisco has been reaching beyond the set-top box business into other software and hardware pieces of an ever-expanding range of cable, telephone and wireless networks. The goal: to supply many pieces of intelligent networks that allow people and businesses to view television and other types of video where ever they happen to be, whether in their homes, commuting or on vacation or business trips.

“This isn’t [about] set-top boxes. It’s how you bring video into the home, into wherever,” said Chambers. “This is right now our sweet spot for where we want to go.”

That is a very different message from what folks at the former Scientific Atlanta operation have been hearing in recent months.

Rumors have swirled that San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco may want to sell all or part of the operation, now called Cisco’s Service Provider Video Technology Group. Several news stories recently speculated that Cisco wants to shed relatively slow-growing, less profitable businesses such as set-top boxes.

Cisco is currently the second-largest producer of the devices, which tune, decode and in some cases store cable TV shows for later viewing."