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Time for the smart STB

The next generation of SmartSTB platform is software- and service-driven, argues ABOX42 chief executive and founder Matthias Greve

The market for TV subscription services is getting more competitive all over the world. New IPTV operators are competing with traditional cable and satellite companies. The technology is getting more and more affordable.

The increasing demand in flexibility, usability and services opens the market for a new generation of smart set-top box platforms and services. In the past, for each operator, the STB and the software platform was custom developed.

The cost and risk for these project had to be handled by the operator. This worked for bigger operator projects, since the project size was large, long term and not very complex.

Operators need a fast, flexible, state-of-the-art, cost effective STB platform. The platform needs to offer, in addition, reliability and security, since operators need to have full control over their services during the entire lifecycle. The solution for this is a more standardised approach in both software and hardware.

Over the past three years we have developed and deployed the ABOX42 SmartSTB platform. This consists of four lines of SmartSTBs with various price points and feature sets. All STBs are running the same ABOX42 SmartSDK. So a deployed operator TV service can for the first time run on different hardware models with different configurations and feature sets.

The SmartSTBs can run as IPTV/OTT platform or be used in a hybrid-DVB environment, which combines traditional broadcast DVB with IP services, like network PVR or additional pay-TV channels with IPTV unicast.

The advantage for operators are in cost, risks reduction and flexibility. Operators with heterogeneous infrastructures like a traditional cable network and fibre network, can run on the same platform.

As in the mobile industry the performance of STBs is increasing each year and the pricing is getting more affordable over time. With a common platform, the operator can run multiple hardware versions seamless in the same service, without additional development cost for software porting and can always offer the latest functionality.

For example, one customer is currently running a traditional HD IPTV service. With our new M40 UltraHD 4K STB line, it can seamlessly offer 4K services for its high end customers, without the need to upgrade the complete service infrastructure.

Also, in a unique way the SmartSTB platform can combine secure Operator Linux for the live pay-TV system, with ‘retail’ like Android services such as Home Media Playback or third party Android TV services in a secure and controlled environment.

The main benefit with the SmartSTB platform is that all is product driven by ABOX42, installed via many different operators. So the single operator doesn’t have to invest in costly development, but can benefit from a market-proven constantly evolving solution.