IPTV and the Home Gateway (Part 1)

This is the first part of a two-part series on bringing IPTV to the consumer.

We started 2010 thinking the year of the gateway was upon us. Now in fourth quarter, vendors are beginning to show product.

What that product is seems to vary by region. Europe, in a much more open video architecture to include satellite and numerous conditional access solutions, leads the pack in new Hybrid video and IP set top boxes offering whole home networking. North America market takes on a more converged digital cable set top home gateway feeling.

Whichever market you exist in as an operator, video as a monetized service has always been a manageable entity in the service delivery model to consumer. New Hybrid and IP gateways delivering video services must be equally as manageable from the Headend as their digital set top box counterparts.

Further entry into the customer premise drives the need for discovery and remote management beyond the gateway for devices consuming video and other services offered by the operator. Within the home, standards such as UPnP and DLNA serve to enable many of our consumer devices to recognize one another and exchange and render media. However these standards do not traverse the operator network. A home gateway is required to support the operator service model by inter-working the discovery of these consumer devices to the Headend, and where the consumer device is supplied by the operator, enable the remote provisioning and management of the in home device, through the home gateway.

Fortunately a series of standards from the Broadband Forum already address multi service home gateways and are being adopted by many terminal vendors in the cable operator market.

As new services continue to emerge the customer gateway will play an ever increasing role in the delivery and management of all IP services offered. The combination of discovery in the customer premise, central management of the gateway with Broadband Forum provisioning applications and the reuse of CableLabs provisioning investments ensure all services coming in 2011 and beyond may be realized in both standards based and cost effective ways.

In the second part of this series, I will discuss the Broadband Forum standard and our approach to the Broadband Forum management application known as an Auto Configuration Service in further detail.