Gateway 2.0 – CES 2012
Last week’s CES ended any remaining doubt about the ascendance of the media gateway. The number of pay-TV operators deploying gateways is set to spike, especially in the United States. At CES a handful of the world’s biggest high-end vendors touted new gateway features, and it’s clear that next generation designs are well underway.
Gateway 2.0 solutions attempt to enhance features and UI without pushing the technology out of reach of less sophisticated pay-TV providers. Broadcom and Intel’s new chipsets are paving the way for more capable modem+media hub devices, and a number of MSOs and STB manufacturers are integrating new home management and advanced device compatibility features. Cisco’s cloud-based Videoscape Voyager Virtual solution enables software upgrades to much older set-top boxes that would otherwise require replacement. Echostar, historically strong in the pay satellite space, and Cisco represent a strong push to move smaller MSOs and telcos into managed content delivery networks. Enabling remote software client and UI upgrades while lowering hardware CAPEX would equip less advanced MSOs to more quickly respond to and integrate new technologies – including gateways – that are currently in the manufacturers’ pipelines.
For all its hype, IMS Research notes that the gateway migration is likely to move slowly. Dust from recent transitions to HD DVRs and Whole Home systems has barely settled in most advanced markets, and IMS Research doesn’t anticipate gateway penetration will surpass 5% for any pay service before the end of 2012. Interest in gateways among newly digitized households and the glut of analog cable subscribers is expected to be very low, which slices 25 million households off the short term gateway TAM in North America alone. By the time gateway 3.0 rolls around, the potential global market could be enormous.