US research firm IHS is predicting staggering growth for global shipments of multimedia home gateways (MHGs) over the next few years, as pay-TV operators seek to unify the delivery of different forms of video content to all types of devices in homes, including media tablets and smartphones.
Worldwide shipments are predicted to climb from 90,000 in 2011 to 9.6mn in 2015, due to growing recognition by operators that multimedia home gateways allow them to consolidate content delivery around the managed networks regardless of the viewing device, improving the consumer experience and reducing over-the-top delivery costs.
“A decade ago, set-top boxes served as the bridge from analogue to digital broadcasting,” said Daniel Simmons, senior principal analyst at IHS and lead author of the report. “Today, MHGs are playing a similar role, acting as the bridge between broadcast and Internet Protocol (IP) video distribution.
“With MHGs, cable and satellite operators can utilise the efficiency of broadcast television to provide advanced services and content to all kinds of IP-connectable devices, including today’s increasingly popular mobile devices.”
The increasing popularity of integrated WiFi capabilities on the devices is also believed to underscore the commitment of operators to supporting multiscreen video in the home, with 73% of the devices expected to offer integrated WiFi by 2015, compared to just 18% at present.
Moreover, Wi-Fi is only one of several new features being added to multimedia home gateways, says Stephen Froehlich, principal analyst for IHS: “Beyond WiFi, some of the major services include gigabit broadband, transcoding, large applications, graphics processors, content storage and edge caching.
“The hardware and software requirements for each MHG are quite different from one operator to the next, making MHGs a profitable point-of-value creation for STB manufacturers and their suppliers for the foreseeable future.”
The devices are also expected to enable pay-TV operators to offer a range on additional services that could “elevate them above being simple purveyors of media access”, according to Simmons, who points to home automation and security, smart energy and e-health services as some of the new services enabled by the devices.