IBC Announcements Confirm Strong Gateway Trend

Monday, September 19th, 2011
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The number of new television gateways and related applications unveiled at the recent IBC exhibition confirms a new direction for the set-top box (STB) industry and digital TV as a whole. Strong demand for TV gateway and thin client arrangements and a spike in the number of gateway manufacturers confirms findings from the recently-released “World Market for Digital Set-top Boxes & iDTVs – 2011 Edition” and upcoming “Next Generation Set-top Boxes: TV Gateways & Thin Clients” reports by IMS Research.

Consumers’ demands for increased functionality, access to over-the-top content, applications, and multi-device connectivity tax the capabilities of most current HD DVRs. Set-top box manufacturers are positioning more advanced gateway devices as media servers that manage content distribution in addition to conditional access restrictions. Content is delivered from the gateway to an IP-based client box or compliant CE device. Several major pay-TV operators, including Canada’s Shaw Cable, US-based DIRECTV, US-based Comcast, and several Western European subsidiaries of Liberty Global, have gateway projects in the works.

“Liberty Global’s commitment to the Horizon gateway deployment is a strong indication of the industry’s direction,” observes analyst John Kendall, co-author of The World Market for Digital Set-top Boxes & iDTVs. “Promotion of an open platform and extensive application catalog at IBC underscores the strength of the gateway trend.” The Samsung-manufactured Horizon box is expected to deploy in the Netherlands in early 2012 before launching in the Swiss, Irish, and German cable markets.

“This year’s gateway announcements at IBC indicate the previous gateway prototypes have sufficient substance and support to become a new content distribution platform,” notes analyst Anna Maxbauer, author of the soon-to-be-published Next Generation Set-top Boxes: TV Gateways & Thin Clients report. Smaller volume STB makers such as Arris, AirTies, and Netgem are establishing a market presence alongside major manufacturers such as Pace plc, Samsung, and Technicolor. Maxbauer adds: “The number of STB and component manufacturers moving into this space means strong opportunities for MSOs looking to meet consumer demands for superior content access and management.”