IPTV Gets Supercharged with 5G WiFi

Perhaps the most salient feature of the “always-on” digital age is that consumers want their content, and they want it now.

Whether it’s viewed on a smart TV, a tablet or a smartphone, streamed via an Internet-connected set-top box or stored on a laptop and beamed to another device, the expectation is still the same: Access to content should be easy, seamless, and available anytime, anywhere in the home.

For cable, satellite and other pay-TV operators around the world, the need to deliver this kind of connectivity will soon bump up against the limitations of broadband in the home. A recent study from Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, shows that the increasing consumption of video content on mobile devices is expected to push wired broadband networks to their “absolute limits” over the next decade.A Broadcom set top box reference design

That means operators will be challenged to provide consumers with a high-quality offering of “triple play services” that are in such high demand around the globe.

Bell Labs’ study showed that as delivery of video content moves from traditional broadcast TV to the the delivery of personalized content on demand, “disproportionate pressure will be placed on the ‘Internet Protocol edge’ of these networks.”

One solution—which Broadcom is demoing this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show—is to help broadband operators offload some of their networking burden onto the more robust, more reliable, next-gen 5G WiFi.

Today, Broadcom announced that it’s pairing up 802.11ac-speed Wi-Fi with its proven IPTV set-top box technology, enabling operators to wirelessly deliver high-def content and services to their customers.

It also enables them to offer customers high-value services including multiroom DVR, Internet browsing via TV, gaming, specialized over-the-top content and other types of add-ons—all without wires. There could soon be a day when subscribers can wirelessly download content, stream video, and access the internet at wire speeds, in any room of the house.

With 5G WiFi on board, there’s the added benefit of reliability and reach, a big win for consumers who are already familiar with the technology and want other TVs in their homes to have all the same benefits as a wired broadband connection.

Mixing it up on the home networking front is expected to happen slowly over the next five years, as more consumers incorporate mobile devices into their home entertainment lineups, according to Michael Inouye, senior TV and video analyst at ABI Research.

“Strong support for mobile devices could also convince service providers to add wireless connectivity to their STBs, particularly to support new standards like Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast; although these solutions would likely service households where wired solutions are less optimal or as a complement to wired networking,” Inouye told IP&TV News last year.

A few of the biggest benefits to putting 5G WiFi on set-top boxes are speed, reliability and reach.

CES 2013 LogoThrough an advanced technology called “beam-forming,” 5G WiFi boosts wireless coverage, eliminates “dead spots” and allows content to be streamed seamlessly from device-to-device, and room-to-room.

And Broadcom’s 5G WiFi IPTV set-top box supports the latest IEEE 802.11.ac standard, driving innovations that promise to transform the way consumers – as demanding as they are for connectivity and content-delivery “anytime, anywhere”— watch TV at home.

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About the Author

Sarah Murry is a Web editor at Broadcom. She crosses the “t’s” and dots the “i’s” for Broadcom.com and Broadcom’s corporate blogs. She earned her reporter chops covering technology, business and trade… More