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Broadcom woos cable, over-the-air boxes

Posted: 30 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OTT? set top box? DOCSIS? smart home? Internet of Things?

Broadcom enjoys a sweet spot in between newer over the top (OTT) content providers and traditional cable companies, both of which are outdoing and enabling each other in a battle for dollars and viewers.

The company's chipsets for next generation set top boxes enable the downlink speeds necessary for both sides of the TV equation, while providing a possible hub for a smart home. Broadcom's DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem SoC is the basis for its set top box vision, combing dual-band Wi-Fi and a custom applications processor to reach 5Gbit/s downstream speeds and 2Gbit/s upstream.

The new DOCSIS standard binds channels to achieve its downstream speed, while moving the noisy upstream beyond 40MHz to 150MHz for faster acknowledgments and improved performance. Cable companies such as Time Warner need to continuously improve their technology in order to compete with the likes of Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber, Broadcom's Rich Nelson told EE Times.

Nelson, senior vice president of Broadcom's broadband and connectivity communications group, explained:

  • As your broadband gets faster and faster, those OTT guys work better and better. The challenge is, the OTT guys want to keep up and offer you better and better video quality. 4K requires four times the bandwidth to send out content to your home. They need the Internet speeds to keep going so you can keep getting provided those capabilities.

"Cable companies have a quandary: do I keep offering better and better broadband speeds, but I keep putting my video in peril because it's enabling a competitor," Nelson continued.

Broadcom's 1x1 Wi-Fi and video chips are already inside the Roku and Amazon Fire streaming services, and the company demonstrated a 2x2 .11ac chip at the International CES. That chip cannot be powered off USB and uses MHL instead, though Nelson noted that MHL is on all new televisions and is always on.

For 4K video to truly proliferatestreaming over Wi-Fi or through cablea standard for high dynamic range will need to be developed. There may be time, however, as DOCSIS 3.1 deployments will likely occur in 2016 with lower rates around 1Gbit/s. Nelson was sceptical about the immediate future of 60GHz in the television space and said Broadcom hasn't announced plans for any WiGig products.


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