ANGA exhibitors look to integrated gateway future

The widely-discussed concept of the converged services gateway has figured on the booths of a number of exhibitors at this year’s ANGA Cable show.

Interactive TV and conditional access technology provider NDS used the show to highlight a combined set-top box and home gateway, based on a Broadcom reference design, featuring an integrated NDS Jungo gateway platform and MediaHighway set-top middleware. The company had previously showed the design at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Yves Padrines, vice-president, business development and general manager, NDS Germany, said that US cable operators in particular were looking to this model to deliver services to multiple devices in the home, obviating the need to install multiple cable set-tops. NDS expects the product to be commericalised in the first half of 2011.

Broadband technology provider Arris also highlighted the converged set-top and gateway model, in its case featuring a user interface from Moxi, the consumer premises equipment technology company it acquired from Digeo last year.

“We are taking the interface and building it into next-generation video gateways,” said Cornel Ciocirlan, director, sales engineering EMEA, at the show. Use of the Moxi interface allows the operators to create a kind of walled garden of interactive and social networking applications alongside a traditional line-up of broadcast channels and video-on-demand. The UI will be offered as part of Arris’s own planned converged video gateway product. “Everyone will eventually go in that direction,” said Ciocirlan. “The only thing that was stopping them was the cost of the technology and that is going in a direction that will make it feasible in the next one or two years.”

The emergence of converged gateway products is taking place against the background of the Comcast-promoted next-generation cable architecture, CMAP, in the US, one of the key goals of which is to deliver an access technology-agnostic architecture. CMAP aims to deliver a much denser headend platform than has been available hitherto, in order to provide a much higher number of narrowcast digital and IP services and reduce operating expenses.
Ciocirlan said that the development of consumer premises equipment would move faster than the headend part, with products likely to be available by the beginning of next year. Devices with flexible configurations of multiple DVB-C and DOCSIS tuners will be produced, with the ultimate goal being a converged IP-based infrastructure.

Arris is likely to produce a converged gateway before the end of this year, with a European version available soon after. Ciocirlan said the Moxi UI would be available as part of an integrated hardware and software product. “We think what’s important is the user experience – that’s what will drive MSO decisions,” he said.

Other vendors highlighting the likely future importance of the converged gateway included provisioning systems supplier Incognito Software, which used the show to demonstrate its new Auto-Configuration Server (ACS), allowing its Broadband Command Center product to provision TR-069 devices. This allows converged gateways to be configured both with CableLabs and Broadband Forum standards. “The device the consumer interacts with is going to change,” said Chris Busch, vice-president of broadband technology. “IP video is one thing. Another is cable, in Europe and elsewhere, not just configuring to the HFC network – service providers are becoming network-agnostic, using WiMAX, PON, xDSL and direct fibre.”