Few in the industry display as much knowledge and passion as Pace’s Product Marketing VP, Peter Simpson, and last week IP&TV News caught up with him to discuss the past, present and future of connected entertainment…
IP&TV News: In terms of developments, what was the biggest surprise the industry presented in 2013?
Peter Simpson: No real surprises, but another turn of the cogs towards truly converged services and platforms to deliver TV Everywhere :
- RDK/HbbTV/Android and Pace’s own Elements all take a step forwards to giving operators more control in creating and delivering their TV anywhere experience by abstracting the service away from the device.
- Media gateways become the service providers’ holy grail to be able to offer triple-play services.
- 4k / Ultra-HD moves a step closer towards reality.
- Everything becomes an App with service providers challenged to continually add value in an App dominated world.
- And last, but not least, wireless (802.11n/ac) becomes the preferred home connectivity technology.
Bottom line: pay-TV remains strong in the face of OTT adversity with the leading operators actually incorporating OTT directly into their service offerings to leverage the best that linear, PVR, VOD, Catch-up, Start-over etc can offer as tightly bound TV Everywhere services. Pay-TV is growing globally, widening out from the TV in the living room to all the users screens.
What are the biggest challenges Pace are finding its clients currently face, and how are you able to help overcome them? Is it multiscreen that consistently presents the biggest complications?
With media gateways deployed and in development across a number of operators – AT&T, Comcast, DirectTV, GET, Foxtel and Altibox; across a number of differing scenarios – from Cable GWs to Satellite STBs and all-IP networks – using MediaRoom, RDK, RVU and even our own Elements platform; Pace is fortunate to have a solid understanding of the essential ingredients needed to deliver reliable and robust TV Everywhere services, the top 3 being delivering :
- an engaging and consistent user experience across every screen with seamless access to the user’s chosen content.
- a high quality of experience from a combination of a) managing and optimising the secure delivery of content within an increasingly untethered home network environment; and b) providing remote diagnostic and service management to proactive device management and customer care.
- optimum performance end-2-end by; efficient network optimisation (eg hybrid-fibre-coax technology for cable networks); lowering the cost of delivery (eg using SW CAS v HW CAS); maximum quality across any given bandwidth (eg implementing HEVC across any network ahead of 4k).
If we consider user experience, QoS and network efficiency as 3 legs of a stool, it only takes one to be missing for an operator’s managed service to wobble and to potentially fall on its backside!
Pace quite recently purchased Aurora Networks – what the thinking behind this? Does it signify a more general expansion of Pace’s horizons?
The recent acquisition of Aurora enhances Pace’s ability to help operators deliver an optimised end-2-end performance, specifically by bandwidth improvement over cable and IP networks – more bandwidth allowing operators to deliver more services, improved quality, and lower costs. Pace’s strategy is simple – provide operators a toolkit to deliver and maintain their managed services so that they can give their subscribers the best experience possible. Moving forwards we’ll continue to innovate with products, services and technologies that enable operators to acquire subscribers (user experience), keep them happy (quality of experience) and make sure they can deliver them cost effectively (accessibility).
From Pace’s perspective, what’s the most exciting and potential-laden market in the world right now?
Pace has the challenge of diverse market dynamics and extremes of operator solution needs – from entry DTT STBs and gateways in Africa to complex multiscreen solutions in the US and Europe. However, each of these markets comes with their own exciting opportunities – Africa has a population approaching 1bn people, yet has just started on its pay-TV journey; the US is transitioning rapidly to media gateways and n-play services; whilst in Europe, OTT and multiscreen are becoming essential ingredients for operators to keep subscribers loyal and ARPUs healthy.
With a global presence and solution portfolio across the pay-TV and Telco industries we intend to succeed in all the markets we play in!
What are your expectations for 2014 – what do you think the main trends and opportunities will be?
2014 is going to be an exciting year for the pay-TV industry :
- The 2014 Football World Cup and the winter Olympics will light a massive fire under the use of Ultra-HD and HEVC as the must-have experience to view sport.
- The debate between Traditional TV v OTT finally stops as Pay-TV Everywhere becomes the main game in town with operators competing on delivering the best content and experience, consistently to every screen.
- Comcast’s Reference Design Kit (RDK) starts to gain traction outside of North America, offering as it does the chance to reduce development costs and allow operators to bring new interoperable, multi-screen, multi-room services to market quicker and cheaper.
For IP service providers in particular …
- It will be the year of the Media Gateway as the major triple-play operators look to expand their services beyond voice, data and mobile to include TV
- Quality of Service becomes a major differentiator for operators, underpinned by intelligent remote management and diagnostics coupled with proactive customer care. This can be obtained with a platform such as Pace’s Eco Service Management, which eases complexity of managing today’s multi-device connected homes while increasing customer satisfaction
- Operators will move towards standardising on a single software platform for all their devices so that they can deliver a consistent user experience via an advanced gateway software, such as Pace’s Helium solution, which connects and distributes media services throughout the home at a lower operational cost.
Peter Simpson will be appearing at TV Connect 2014, 18-20th March. For booking and more info go here.