Chinese consumers are poised for a major change in the way they watch TV.
As it stands, dozens of operators duke it out by region with a patchwork of competing servicesâ€”cable, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), satellite and passive optical networking (PON), to name a few. A fragmented market is the norm in the country of more than a billion people, bit thatâ€™s changing as TV offerings are set to converge around broadband technologies.
As the worldâ€™s most-populous nation with a rising middle class, China is on the verge of a national initiative called next-generation broadband (NGB).
Broadcomâ€™s setting the stage for operators to deploy NGB, along with an array of exciting offerings that combine the best of broadcast, broadband and over-the-top (OTT) content to their subscribers.
It couldnâ€™t be happening at a better time: A Digital TV Research report from earlier this year shows Chinaâ€™s expected to have some 315 million pay-TV households by 2017. China has some 167 million broadband subscribers, with a 16 percent annual growth rate, according to October figures published by the Broadband Forum.
Broadcom has developed several standards-based technologies to deliver high quality, high-definition content in a secure, cost-effective way, while helping put in place infrastructure to ramp up Chinaâ€™s burgeoning broadband landscape. Weâ€™re talking about it this week at the International Coverage and Transmission Conference in Hangzhou, where weâ€™ll demonstrate the latest in NGB innovations tailored for China.
Hereâ€™s a sampling of what weâ€™ll be demonstrating at ICTC.
Standards Make it Happen
Broadcomâ€™s a frontrunner in standards-setting for NGB, including active participation in the NGB working group led by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television agency (SARFT), which oversees the broadcasting industry.
Security is a biggie in China, too, and a primary concern of broadcast content providers looking to combat piracy.Â Thatâ€™s why Broadcom supports the Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS ) standard on a full line of set-top box platforms for network integrity, enabling operators to source uniformed network equipment.
Chinese consumers are clamoring for HDTV, regardless of how they access pay TV. Broadcomâ€™s standards-based technologies, including Full-Band Capture and MoCA 2.0, are being deployed in China to support the demand for HDTV.
Thinking Beyond Cable
In Chinaâ€™s big cities, cable and IPTV compete for subscribers. Telecom companies offer Internet protocol television options in addition to phone and Internet. IPTV in China reached an estimated 14 million users in 2012, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Compared to cableâ€™s roughly 200 million subscribers, IPTV has yet to take off, but pieces are falling into place for some major growth in fiber technology that will replace Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)/copper infrastructure.
The major Chinese telecom companiesâ€”China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobileâ€”are committed to deploying fiber access via Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), eventually enabling IPTV video services to more homes throughout China. GPON doesnâ€™t necessitate home visits to set up service and operators can split each fiber up to 128 times from the field, offering service to more customers at cheaper rates. The range on fiber is more than 37 miles, versus copper that can only be used within a little over a mile.
Ethernet PON, or EPON, is also getting into the mix.
â€ś[PONs] are easier to deploy than copper, consume less power, are more future proof and more cost effective,â€ť said Doron Tal, Broadcomâ€™s director of product marketing for xPON in the Broadband Communications Group. â€śThey also enable the layering of additional services, with the hope of one day layering IPTV.â€ť
In rural villages where cable and IPTV arenâ€™t available, satellite is the only option for pay TV. Satellite technology in China is being upgraded to high-definition quality with Broadcomâ€™s HD for satellite products. China is also working on eliminating the unencrypted, free channels available to anyone with a dish, building up the pay-TV satellite industry.
Cable, IPTV and satellite are all rapidly growing in China, faster than market researchers can keep pace. As demand for high quality, integrated connectivity in the home continues, Broadcomâ€™s standards-based technologies will empower operators to offer their subscribers the best broadband around.