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Cable operators have traditionally relied on purpose-built hardware solutions such as integrated CCAP devices to deliver services. However, as bandwidth consumption grows exponentially, these solutions are showing their limitations. This is because capacity increases often lead to additional equipment and associated OPEX in crowded headends and hubs. Development cycles for new services and features in this traditional context are often long and require significant and lengthy regression testing. Cable operators need better solutions to compete in a market where customer expectations are high. Now more than ever modernization is key. Many are turning to virtualized, software-based infrastructures to adapt to customer demand and compete.
An evolution is underway in the digital terrestrial television (DTT) environment. Major market and technology developments, including the rollout of 5G networks, are shifting consumer viewing habits and driving change. Around the world, some broadcasters are faced with government mandates to free-up DTT spectrum to help accommodate 5G. In reaction to the loss of spectrum and the threat of streaming services, the objective of broadcasters is to improve the viewer experience by offering at least the same channel lineup, better video, and audio experiences and streaming services, as well as activate new revenue sources.
The current global health crisis has accelerated usage of broadband access networks almost overnight. High quality broadband access has taken center stage as hundreds of millions of people have replaced face-to-face activities with virtual ones. According to NCTA, upstream usage increased by 34.9% and downstream by 18.7% from early March to early May. Many of these new usage behaviors are predicted to persist well beyond the day when the current health situation has subsided, and some market leaders are already taking action to accommodate this growth. So how do you handle the shifts in demand today, and be ready for tomorrow’s next steps?
The number of video streaming devices used per household is growing steadily. Recent research states that 31% of adults watch video via a connected TV device daily. And about three-quarters of all TV households in the U.S. today have at least one connected TV device, with an average of 3.9 devices per connected TV household. But also, outside of the US, there is a global trend of watching video on multiple screens. One report found that more than 75% of worldwide video viewing is mobile. Due to the rise in mobile viewing, video transcoding has become a critical task for broadcasters, pay-TV operators and content providers.
Online services like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu have fundamentally changed the way we view our TV shows, videos and sporting events so much so that 70% of consumers now believe streaming subscriptions offer better services than traditional TV. In fact, streaming is now mainstream behavior in the United States, with VOD households growing by more than 25 percent in the past two years. The term coined to represent this era in entertainment and media is video-on-demand, or VOD.
Consumers today are watching video on a growing number of screens, and video quality expectations are constantly increasing. While HD video is the mainstream viewing experience today, UHD HDR is getting attention — both from consumers and standards organizations. The reason UHD HDR is attractive is because it provides viewers with an immersive video experience at a resolution that is four times greater than HD. HDR expands the available color space, creating more vivid pictures, and increasing brightness and points of darkness.