Bülent Çelebi co-founded AirTies in 2004 with the vision of becoming the leader of wireless home media networking products that integrate free, purchased and personal content. Prior to founding AirTies, he served as the CEO of VC backed Ubicom, a network processor for WLAN applications. Celebi’s success in technical innovations has resulted in his recognition as one of the “Top 10 Innovators” by the Red Herring Magazine. Today, AirTies is positioned very much on the cutting edge, and IP&TV News enjoyed picking Bülent’s copious brains on AirTies, HEVC, 4K, and more…
IP&TV News: From a technical perspective, what were the most exciting developments in 2013?
Bülent Çelebi: In 2013 we really started to see wireless video take a hold in the connected home. The age of multiple connected devices in the home has truly become a reality. The business benefits of wirelessly streaming on-demand services were proven by BSkyB’s deployment of AirTies’ wireless connectors to allow consumers to connect their Sky+ HD set-top boxes wirelessly to their Internet gateway. Another highlight for us was Swisscom’s widespread deployment of AirTies mesh technology to stream multiple HD IPTV streams to multiple TV’s.
2013 was also the year in which Pay-TV operators stopped seeing OTT content as a threat and hybrid solutions truly came of age. One particular high point in 2013 for AirTies was the roll out by Orange Spain of their on-demand OTT video, catch-up TV and VoD service for multiple devices around the home. This for us was a watershed deployment because the entire headend service was delivered over the cloud using either Orange’s own broadband service or a competitor’s service. We believe this model is one that many other mobile/telecom operators will adopt in the future to enter the premium TV market in a cost-effective and timely fashion.
AirTies have been doing some very interesting things with the evolution of wireless video in the connected home. Could you share some of these with our readers?
Traditional WiFi operates as client devices connecting to a central AP/Router in a star topology. The actual WiFi connection speed decays logarithmically over distance and walls, bringing down the entire performance of the network. AirTies Mesh converts each client device into a smart AP/Router. These smart APs then route the packets between themselves selecting the optimal path, in a similar manner to the way that the general internet functions. They connect with each other at logarithmically higher speeds. Mesh links are set up with a touch of a button, and configuration changes are automatically propagated throughout the network. Interference and Radar is avoided by continuously monitoring all channels and dynamically changing channels.
What changes will the wireless video and connected home market undergo over the next few years?
The average number of devices connected to the home network in the US currently stands at 10 and in the next few years this figure is set to explode on a global level. 70% of all traffic on the WiFi network will be streaming video and – with the growing popularity of the Internet of Things/Smart home devices – dozens of additional devices will be connected. The next few years will see a lot of demand for 4K, but more importantly for HEVC. I anticipate HEVC becoming mainstream in the next year or so as it has the capability to halve the total amount of broadband capacity required to run video. This has massive ramifications for service providers in being able to deploy HD video in areas with low broadband connection speeds. It will have the knock on effect of increasing the number of households globally able to enjoy good quality HD video and overcoming the restrictions of last mile capacity which has plagued the market for many years.
The advent of HEVC will also have a significant impact on the IPTV world, as it will elevate the quality of unmanaged OTT content to the level of a pay-TV experience. This will have a disruptive affect on the market as it will mean that Free to Air (FTA) broadcasters will turn to OTT as a more cost effective option than terrestrial cable.
2014 will be a big year for the sporting world, especially with the Brazilian World Cup which will help drive demand for 4K. The 2016 Olympics will also set a deadline for such technologies to be fully rolled out – putting pressure on operators to meet the challenge.
You’ll be at this year’s TV Connect. What will you be doing there?
We will be launching the world’s fastest wireless video access point for the connected home. This is the next generation of video bridges that use 4×4 802.11ac chipsets that will give lightning fast video on multiple connected devices around the home. Used for both IPTV and Pay-TV deployments it will increase wireless video speeds from around 600 Mbps to 1.7Gbps. Even in homes where hi-speed broadband is not available this new gateway technology will improve video performance as much as five-fold and ensure that high quality signal speeds are maintained throughout the home.
We will also be shipping a dual band concurrent version of the new super fast video bridge access point that will simultaneously run at both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies. This will enable the support of devices such as smartphones and tablets that may only support 2.4GHZ frequencies but can still benefit from increased wireless speeds of up to 300Mbps.
We’ll also be showcasing another world first: an OTT set-top box using HEVC. The new HEVC STB will allow IPTV and OTT service providers to offer satellite quality HD service over the open internet. The efficiency of HEVC will also dramatically reduce the cost of content delivery, which has multiple different benefits for different audiences:
- Anyone with an IPTV service has the ability to offer a 4K service
- Cable and satellite operators who want to go off network can offer a high quality OTT service
- Mobile operators who are offering an OTT TV service for smartphones and tablets can now offer an HD TV service to their subscribers and/or a nomadic TV service for their second home or whilst abroad.
What are the best things about this event?
We have been regular exhibitors at the TV Connect show for several years now because it is a more focused show than others like IBC and offers us a great platform to showcase our latest, cutting edge wireless technology.