Cable Technology Feature Article
Cable Technology Week in Review
By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor
Happy New Year all! It’s been a slow week for news thanks to the holiday but all of that is set to change next week when 2014 International CES kicks off in Las Vegas. We’re expecting a wealth of interesting connected TV announcements—such as the 105-inch curved UltraHD sets from LG and Samsung—as well as a focus on mobile video and new form factors for video streaming. HDMI dongles a la Google (News - Alert) Chromecast, audio-visual self-contained headsets and who knows what other innovations will be on offer. There’s also a second-screen summit for broadcasters that’s sure to usher in new pay-TV discussions.
We’ll be attending the show and bringing you the latest developments, but some planned announcements are already coming to light. For instance, tech heads everywhere reacted with glee on the report that LG will show off smart TVs equipped with the webOS operating system that it partially bought from HO earlier in the year. A new leaked photo appears to confirm that expectation. The news set things abuzz considering that webOS was originally meant to save PDA pioneer Palm from obsolescence—it didn’t—before supercharging HP’s tablet dreams with the 2011 TouchPad launch (it didn’t do thaht either). In Feb. HP sold part of the webOS assets to LG and licensed the rest, which the Korean giant said it would use to make its smart TV interfaces more personalized—like a mobile phone. “It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices,” said Skott Ahn, president and CTO at LG, when the company made the acquisition. “The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies.” We shall see!
Opera Mediaworks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Opera Software (News - Alert) and conglomerate of several companies, has decided to substantially expand its presence in Latin America. In particular, the company has added a new team, which formerly operated independently as Hunt Mobile Ads, to its roster. This team will span multiple countries, servicing the regional needs of advertisers and publishers.
Overall, the Opera Mediaworks LatAm team will span and service Latin America with offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Colombia, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Additionally, the team will service the U.S. Hispanic market via Miami, Florida, while still leveraging the Hunt Mobile Ads brand.
The expansion will allow Opera Mediaworks to better meet the demand for mobile ad inventory and impressions in what is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.
"Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, represents a market of over 600 million consumers that are rapidly adopting the mobile internet," said Mahi de Silva, CEO of Opera Mediaworks, in a statement. "We are particularly excited about the hundreds of millions of global consumers, whose eyes will turn to the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016 — both in Brazil. Opera Mediaworks aims to play an integral part in helping advertisers reach their audience and publishers make the most of their inventory in this region."
Back in May, Opera Mediaworks announced an expansion of a different kind with the launch of a next-generation ad platform for connected TVs called AdMarvel for Connected TVs.
However, the company’s attempt to penetrate television advertising is a much riskier endeavour. This is because Opera already has a foothold in the mobile market in Latin America thanks to the popularity of its mobile browsers. Indeed, over 50 million of the 270 million mobile consumers that use Opera’s mobile browsers are based in Latin America. The Opera Mediaworks ad platform also serves thousands of publishers, with billions of ad impressions, in the region.
Meanwhile, silicon announcements look to be rife for next week. Novabase Digital TV Technologies has already announced that it selected Sigma Designs (News - Alert)' SMP8674 media processor for its HDMI-Stick IPTV STB. The device will debut at the 2014 CES and will be the first operator-class HDMI-stick form factor IP STB that is compliant with the European HbbTV hybrid TV standard. It also includes Wi-Fi and IR control capability and runs "httvLink" middleware by the French middleware vendor HTTV. It will be sort of like Google Chromecast, with capabilities to support linear TV from traditional broadcast. It will likely be focused squarely on the European market.
Meanwhile, as UltraHD 4K video gets buzzier and buzzier, it’s clear that service provider gear that can actually deliver the content (which takes eight times the bandwidth of regular HD) is a gaping requirement. At CES Morega Systems is doing its part by debuting a mobile solution for operators. Morega’s media mobility application, which incorporates ViXS’ eighth-generation XCode 6400 10-bit High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) UltraHD system-on-a-chip (SoC), can be embedded on a range of video source devices (e.g. IP video gateways), and mainstream consumer device platforms (iOS, Android (News - Alert) (News - Alert), MacOS, Windows). It also has servers in the cloud to handle user and device management, remote access and capture of usage-based statistics with analytics. The result is the ability for operators to send content to 4K-enabled CE for both inside and outside of the home, in either streaming format or as a file transfer for offline viewing. Which, in theory, takes down many of the barriers for 4K that exist today.
Aside from pre-CES announcements, Latin America was in the spotlight this week. Bolivia TV has contracted International Datacasting (News - Alert) (IDC) in order to enhance its broadcasting capabilities. Seven of the IDC’s high performance TITAN Video Encoders and eleven of its rugged and compact HMR Receivers will be deployed throughout Bolivia to serve over 10.5 million diverse subscribers. IDC explained that its TITAN video encoders blend together updated core technology capable of delivering new levels of performance, with an overall product design based on nearly two decades of outside broadcast experience. It features intuitive menus and front panel controls that are designed to allow operators to define and enable compression and modulation parameters with only minimal training. The encoders support for open standards and full interoperability testing make them suitable for any broadcast environment.
Also, Opera Mediaworks said that it has decided to substantially expand its presence in Latin America. The expansion will allow the company to better meet the demand for mobile ad inventory and impressions in what is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. In particular, the company has added a new team, which formerly operated independently as Hunt Mobile Ads, to its roster. This team will span multiple countries, servicing the regional needs of advertisers and publishers with offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Colombia, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Additionally, the team will service the U.S. Hispanic market via Miami, Florida, while still leveraging the Hunt Mobile Ads brand.
And finally, back Stateside, LightSquared, purveyors of an ill-fated satellite-4G hybrid network, may be finding a way to work itself out of bankruptcy protection and avoid being sold to DISH Network. After being shut down by the FCC (News - Alert) over interference concerns in its non-traditional network, LightSquared’s considerable spectrum holdings became a very attractive takeover target for hungry DISH, which is anxious to kick off its own nationwide wireless service if it can get its hands on the airwaves to do it. But LightSquared is now working to secure $2.75 billion in fresh loans and at least $1.25 billion in equity investment from private equity firms Fortress and Melody Capital Advisors LLC, as well as JPMorgan Chase & Co and Harbinger Capital Partner. The $4 billion plan, made up of both debt and equity, would need to be approved by the FCC.
Again, happy New Year and have a great weekend!