80 years of high-definition television

Television tower at Alexandra Place in 1936

Television tower at Alexandra Palace in 1936

Today marks 80 years since the BBC began the world’s first regular high-definition television service. This was a far cry from what we call HD today – in 1936 it was an increase from 30 TV lines, to 240, which was the old measure of such resolution. Today’s variety of specifications, from HD, to UHD, 4K and even 8K reflect not only the rate of change but the choice available to us.

And through so much change, TV has remained at the center of our content consumption. The Video Advertising Bureau just released findings that TV still commands 89% of viewing time, demonstrating that even with the penetration of mobile and tablet devices, many still gather around a TV to be entertained and informed.

From here, the future looks bright (which we say without a sense of irony given the promise of things such as HDR). Not only are the screens getting better, but access to so much great, high quality, content has never been better. TV budgets are now rivaling that of movies, with HBO’s latest offering, Westworld reportedly costing $US100m for the first season, and $US25m for the pilot. Netflix, which is not a TV network in the traditional sense and just shy of 20 years old, will reportedly spend billions on original content in the next year.

For ARRIS, it’s all about delivery of that content and onto the screens in the way it was intended by the producers. The viewer needs to see the effects laboriously pored over without pixelation; to experience a heartfelt monologue delivered without interruption by buffer; and have the next episode load before their significant other has time to say “Haven’t we watched enough episodes tonight?” To achieve this, consumers need the right devices in their home, distributing a fast and reliable service on behalf of the operator. Otherwise, they’ll just switch off.

Here’s to 80 years of high-definition television, and to many more.

A broad vision for set-tops at IBC

The exhibition halls at IBC have opened today and we’re showcasing the industry’s broadest and most comprehensive portfolio of set-tops.

We develop products for satellite operators, cable operators, telcos and terrestrial TV providers. Our set-tops can integrate with a wide range of third party middleware and conditional access technologies to offer a fantastic choice of UI experiences built on software platforms such as RDK, Android, KreaTV or Mediaroom. So whether a service provider wants to deliver a high-end service from a Wi-Fi enabled media gateway, or whether they are on the hunt for entry level set-tops, our solutions are the perfect fit.  

ARRIS VIP5305

ARRIS VIP5305

 

Making its debut at IBC is one of our latest IPTV set-tops – the VIP5305.  It’s compact and eye- catching, and capable of supporting enhanced picture quality with High Dynamic Range (HDR) for an Ultra HD experience that is one of the biggest leaps in image quality in TV’s history.  The image you will see will be the most realistic to ever grace your TV screen – like looking out of a window.

 

We’re also displaying examples of bespoke devices we’ve developed for some of our European customers on which we collaborated on the feature sets and design to meet the operator’s specific requirements.

With 4K launches now beginning in Europe, NOS was able to lead the pack with the ARRIS ZD4500 which will be showcased at IBC.  As the first RDK 4K rollout in Europe it’s a significant project and we’ll detail this and other successful projects at our stand.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s IBC. We’re in Hall 1 Stand B19

 

The UHD dream is becoming reality

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Sean McCarthy Ph.D., Fellow at ARRIS

A few year ago, Ultra High Definition (UHD) was just an idea and today it’s on the verge of widespread adoption, says Sean McCarthy Ph.D., Fellow at ARRIS.

Equipment is emerging, content is in development and consumers are expectant. The stage is set for another TV evolution.

UHD changes the game by offering more pixels and therefore more detail for bigger screens. Add in High Dynamic Range (HDR) and there’s an even more impressive array of colors, contrast and depth.

Many service providers are already making their future intentions clear. With UHD TVs already commonplace in retail stores, an appetite for content is building. With this in mind, the likes of Sky, Virgin Media, NOS, DirectTV and BeIN have all announced or launched UHD services. Some 78% of video service providers say they will have launched 4K UHD content by 2018, according to an SNL Kagan Irdeto report.

HDR is part of the wider UHD growth trajectory. And although it’s still an emerging technology, some providers are already rolling out compliant set-tops. HDR TV shipments are only going to increase and OTT players are already raising the bar in terms of content. Netflix and Vudu are among those leading the field. 

Format war?

There are actually different forms of HDR in existence that deliver content to customers in slightly different ways. They all transfer linear light from the picture captured by the source camera. It’s then delivered to the TV display through a process of compression, encoding, decoding and rendering. But because this can be done in different ways, there are concerns of a format war. The truth is that because of the emergence of streaming media, the differing HDR transfer functions can coexist because there are advantages for each.

For example, the Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) formats – HDR10, Dolby Vision and Technicolor Philips – are ideal for controlled environments. This includes non-live studios and cinematic content where post production can enhance the picture. The Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) format, however, is at its best in live studios and outdoor events. 

The good news is that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has announced a standard that allows us to convert between the two. We can now gain the advantages of both. And the flexibility for studios, operators and consumer electronics manufacturers will benefit the industry.

Defining quality

With all the content providers, formats and equipment companies how exactly do you measure UHD quality? It’s a question that still doesn’t have a comprehensive answer but it’s one that researchers are looking into. The UHD Alliance has galvanized the major TV players such as Sony and Panasonic and this will help inform consumers. But the best academic means of measuring quality is still up for debate.

Various tools such as peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) and the structural similarity (SSIM) index already exist. But the tools that work well with SD and HD formats don’t always capture the nuances of HDR. Studies are looking at new metrics and they’re making progress but the goal should be simplicity. They should aim to develop UHD HDR video quality metrics that are easy to calculate and provide information that companies can act on.

What UHD is really about

UHD isn’t about impressing consumers with bulging spec sheets. The reason the technology will gain ground is because it enables creatives to tell better stories. And for the viewer, it’s about offering them a better experience that’s even more compelling than HD. With that comes a fantastic opportunity for providers to offer a premium service.

As technology providers, we’re helping to get the infrastructure in place that will enable the growth of UHD and the evolution of home entertainment.

For more information on ARRIS’s UHD solutions, click here or come to our stand at IBC 2016, Hall 1, B19 

ARRIS’s First DOCSIS 3.1® Cable Modem is Now CableLabs®-Certified

Gigabit is making headlines around the country as cable companies begin to bring this incredibly fast Internet to new destinations this year. If you’re one of the lucky people receiving Gigabit access, you need to know about DOCSIS 3.1® technology; it’s what makes Gigabit Internet possible for cable customers.

And, very soon, you’ll be able to get your hands on our first retail cable modem with DOCSIS 3.1 technology: our SURFboard® SB8200 Cable Modem. What that means is that it won’t be long before you’ll be able to buy your own cable modem that supports Gigabit Internet.

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

ARRIS is a pioneer in DOCSIS technology and in giving consumers the choice of super-fast modems they can purchase to own. Among the advantages of buying a modem include: side-stepping your service provider’s modem rental fees (for a savings of up to $120 per year), getting a performance boost from the latest technology, and choosing the solution that works best for your own needs.

CableLabs just announced that our SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 modem received full DOCSIS certification, which is a big step in bringing it to market. It means that the modem is now ready to go to cable operators for approval so that it can be used on your cable service. We expect our SB8200 to be ready later this year, starting with Comcast’s Gigabit launches in the following markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Nashville. Then, you can buy it at your favorite retail outlet and experience the future of fast at home.

Stay tuned to our blog to find out when you can buy our new SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 modem.

ARRIS Works With VUBIQUITY to Offer Operators the Best in Entertainment; Now with Content Protected by ARRIS SECUREMEDIA

VUBIQUITY, the global premium content service provider connecting content owners and video providers downloadto deliver entertainment to viewers on any screen, is using ARRIS’s content protection solution, SECUREMEDIA™. This will allow VUBIQUITY to pre-encrypt its vast video portfolio, including all electronic-sellthrough (EST) films and television series. This will also enable operators to easily and efficiently provide their subscribers with premium entertainment across multiscreen platforms and devices over IPTV and over-the-top (OTT) distribution.

ARRIS’s award-winning SECUREMEDIA solution addresses the need for a great entertainment experience on multiple devices, while ensuring end-to-end content protection. With SECUREMEDIA, VUBIQUITY can now provide operators with secure access to its complete pre-encrypted library on a wide array of IP-enabled devices and platforms including Android smartphones and tablets; Apple iPad/iPhone/ iPod devices; PC and Mac (OS X); game consoles; Internet-connected TVs; Blu-Ray Disc™ players; set-tops; and streaming media players, such as Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Nexus.

Visit us @ NAB, Booth # SU1916 to learn more.

ARRIS @ 2016 NAB Show

This week, we’re in Las Vegas for the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show Header-960x200to showcase ARRIS’s vision for the future of video delivery. NAB brings together more than 100K industry professionals to talk about what tomorrow’s entertainment experience will look like and how it will be delivered. Our booth (#SU1916) is focused on demonstrating the crucial evolution in network and CPE technology that’s enabling those experiences in the new connected home.

Many of the world’s leading service providers use our advanced video compression and multiscreen technology to deliver next-generation entertainment to their subscribers. We’ll have several of our most advanced solutions on display, including the DSR-7403 HEVC Transcoder IRD, ME-7000 compressed converged platform, and industry-leading SECUREMEDIA® content protection solutions.

If you’re attending NAB, make sure to catch the following sessions with Dr. Sean McCarthy, Fellow at ARRIS:

Sunday, April 17
11:00 am – 11:30 am PT: Smart Bandwidth Sharing for Multi-Program Content Distribution; Room S219

Monday, April 18

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm PT: Understanding the Viewer Experience when Designing Ultra HD Services; Room S219

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