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MPEG-4, Mobile TV and More – Predictions and Observations from Motorola’s Geoff Roman

As I mentioned last week, there are changes ahead for this blog including more commentary from Motorola executives and experts on a variety of topics. To kick off these executive visits I sat down recently with Geoff Roman, a Motorola corporate vice president, to hear his thoughts on 2007, 2008 and beyond.

Geoff Roman on:

If you start with the IPTV space, virtually everything is MPEG-4 based. On the cable side, you’ll start seeing MPEG-4 devices (CPE) early next year, with gradual phasing in of more MPEG-4 hardware throughout 2008. Operators will incorporate MPEG-4 in their highest service tiers first, moving to mass distribution of MPEG-4 set-tops by late 2009, early 2010. By the latter part of 2009, MPEG-2 standalone devices will have completely disappeared.


(Picture shows MPEG-4 content transcoded into MPEG-2 format for existing MPEG-2 set-tops)

Mobile TV
Mobile TV from a broadcast perspective is becoming increasingly common in Europe and is picking up steam in Asia, particularly in China around the Olympics. However, there are still business models to figure out. Streaming video is expensive, but on the other hand, consumers want to be able to access the video they want when they want it and not to be tied to broadcast schedules on their cell phones. There is some real-time delivery of content (i.e. broadcast) that works for mobile TV as long as it’s appropriately recycled. For example, news headlines that repeat every ten minutes. But consumers are not going to want to pay for much directly. It will probably be ad-based.

Cable’s Last Mile
Cable is kicking the tires of fiber-to-the-home solutions like Cable PON. Some operators have opted for a wireless extension across the last mile where they can’t run wire or don’t want to run wire, and for that you see technologies like our Canopy solution. However, there’s no consensus strategy yet.

Service Providers as TV Gatekeepers
There is a lot of talk about networks and content owners delivering content directly to consumers via the Internet. Clearly these types of operations are becoming part of the content delivery chain, but none of the business models are broad or exclusive yet. While I don’t disregard the impact of over-the-top (Internet) content delivery, I also don’t see it as a replacement for traditional service provider content any time soon. Likely we’ll start seeing more consumers getting content from multiple places over some sort of converged platform. Internet-delivered content will continue to be a complement, not a replacement for traditional TV entertainment over the next few years.

14 Responses

  1. […] more room for all that new HD content that we all want, now for now, there’s just the long wait.Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | […]

  2. What does the move to MPEG-4 mean for CableCARD devices? While the TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD have MPEG-4 decoders, and could presumably handle MPEG-4 content with CableCARD, does this mean those who purchased DCR HDTVs will have to switch to using a STB, since most of those only have MPEG-2 decoders (as far as is known)?

    Will there be some kind of CPE transcoder box to support legacy MPEG-2 systems?

  3. well since the cable is just for the authorization of the digital signals it should be fine.

  4. I meant cablecard

  5. There will be legacy devices in the field for a while, so I’m guessing signals will be cable broadcast in MPEG2 and MPEG4 for some years to come. While HBO is moving to solely MPEG4 broadcasts, the cable operators are already getting ready to use a transcoder to broadcast those signals in MPEG2.

    As cable migrates to MPEG4 set-tops, your idea of a CPE transcoder box might make sense. I’ll see if anyone’s talking about that.

  6. […] Predictions – MPEG-4, Mobile TV and More: Connected Home 2 Go […]

  7. Presumably the first to switch will be VOD, since you can identify STBs that support h.264 and use it only for them at first. Saves you half the bandwidth, which will increase as the STBs are upgraded to support h.264.

    What next? Ethnic channels like SDV is doing? New channels that weren’t offered before? HD especially? We’ll have to see…

    If the SDV transition doesn’t kill CableCard equipped TVs, then this certainly will…

  8. […] week’s conversation with Geoff Roman was good for more than the requisite prognostications that fill up blogs and news stories this time […]

  9. […] you read this blog regularly, you may have seen this news coming. Motorola is introducing a whole new line of MPEG-4 AVC, all-digital set-tops. The DCX line […]

  10. […] getting close to the end of the year, which means I’m once again talking to as many Motorola execs as I can for reflections on the last twelve months and […]

  11. I absolutely agree that mobile TV and over-the-top video will proliferate and must co-exist with traditional TV if only to be managed for QoS. The challenge is not only content interoperability between old/new settop boxes, mobile devices, MPEG2 and MPEG4, but also providing guaranteed QoS. The ideal solution is transcoding/rating either at customer premises or on a mass scale at the network edge. At Zenverge, we’re trying to make this cost-effective without compromising quality.

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