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Research: STBs can adapt to have a role in OTT market The Set-top Box Innovations and Trends report from research firm Parks Associates notes that traditional pay-TV has declined from an adoption rate of 75% to 62% in US broadband households between Q1 2017 and Q1 2020, as a result of increased OTT consumption, which has led a subsequent decline in set-top box adoption. OTT services allow households to access premium video content without a set-top box, forcing a change in the relationship between set-top box makers and cable/satellite operators. Content developers and networks are now streaming content directly to consumers or distributing through OTT service providers. In some cases, multiplesystem operators (MSOs) are launching their own streaming devices or creating offerings similar to vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) with the goal of recapturing pay-TV cord-cutters or cord-nevers. “The set-top box does have a role in this market, but it will have to adapt,” advised Dr Kenneth Wacks, contributing analyst, Parks Associates. “For one, it can serve as the device to aggregate the variety of different services coming into the households and present them in a personalised and attractive UI for an improved consumer experience. They can also integrate other use cases and innovations, such as voice control and smart home controls, to expand the set-top’s role in the home.” more focused on bringing personalisation and simpler, more useful content discovery. Providing targeted advertising services is one way to do so. Targeted connected TV advertising has emerged as a significant revenue generating opportunity for NSPs. Analysts at Juniper Research have projected that AI-based targeted advertising will grow from $294 billion in 2019 to reach $520 billion by 2023. There is a growth opportunity for pay-TV providers to seamlessly integrate and display targeted advertising, converting idle TV screen space in the navigation environment into valuable advertising inventory and granting them flexibility in delivering the right offering to existing and new subscribers, including options for reduced price subscription packages and additional content in a time where discretionary spending is under pressure. Is there still a need for a service provider to have a physical presence in the home? If so, what is this device likely to be? AirTies: It remains essential for service providers to maintain a physical presence in the home, and the most critical device is the home gateway. The gateway serves as the central hub to enable broadband access (PCs, phones, tablets), video, IP-calling, home office, smart home and IoT services, online gaming, telemedicine, and more. Central to this experience is ensuring that gateways include next-gen Smart WiFi software that can intelligently direct consumers’ devices to the best available channel and band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), according to the realtime network conditions in the home. In addition, the gateways will support cloudbased optimisation tools that give service providers visibility into their subscribers’ WiFi performance and allow remote diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities for all connected devices. Broadband Forum: There is a growing opportunity for traditional CPE functionality to be virtualised within the network and not in the CPE such as with the Broadband Forum Cloud C.O. work and such standards as TR-317. This gives the opportunity to move away from more expensive physical CPE or at least as an evolution to reduce truck rolls and CPE upgrades. Furthermore, there is less need for a service provider to have a presence in the home if the consumer device is TR-069 and now TR-369 USP standards-driven and enables the USP open source agent to sit on any third party consumer device. This could be seen as a CPE connectivity device as long as the certification assurances have been achieved through the Broadband Forum. In the case of PON Fiber networks, then interoperability remains key between the service provider network equipment (OLTs) and the CPE device (ONT), which is why all the major equipment vendors need to go through BBF.247 testing. This will be valid for today’s GPON networks and the emergence of live XGS-PON networks. CommScope: Fundamentally a service provider owns the home through the access network connection. This connection can extend the service provider’s role to the home and cover entertainment, digital life, working from home and new services like telemedicine. Additionally, many service providers are also adding mobile bundles to converge the wireless digital life in the home. We see the continued evolution of various technologies like DOCSIS 3.1 to 4.0, PON to XGS-PON, WiFi 6 to 6E and 7, and set-top boxes to smart media devices and new audio and visual smart assistants. These technologies allow service providers to add new services beyond the triple or quad play today. Netgem: Service providers absolutely need to have a presence in the home, in order to reinforce engagement with their customers, through a layer of services. Netgem offers TV and now WiFi Mesh management, which are two core services used every day. SAH: Of course, there is a need for a service provider to have a physical presence in the home! In order to deliver a good WiFi and good Internet access through fibre or 5G, there is no other choice than having a Home Gateway at home. Furthermore, operators can use the gateway as a platform hosting many digital services, such as new innovative ones like motion detection, enabling security or identifying falls for elderly assistance. There is no doubt, the home gateway is there to stay. Furthermore, TV, media or voice assistant services need a media device in the home. The STB by playing the role of super aggregator aggregating linear and non-linear services (such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, etc.) will play a key role for media distribution by operators. Technicolor: There will always be a need for a device, physical interface to interconnect with the networks. ZTE: Yes. OTT boxes, smart home devices, and the interaction of home-personal health devices, including trackers, watches, bracelets, etc will see more devices. All of these devices will form an ecosystem with CPE at the core. EUROMEDIA 15