The strong movement towards “content anywhere anytime” and “prime time on my time” puts an increasing pressure on operators to keep customers happy. Pay-TV operators recognize that they must offer advanced services such as HD and video-on-demand. However, network bandwidth limitations often present a challenge. Moreover, the lack of a return channel in broadcast networks means that interactive applications are limited.
One solution combines DVB and IP delivery technologies through a hybrid network approach that takes advantage of the strengths of each: an RF-based broadcast network for one-to-many linear content delivery, combined with an IP network for interactive one-to-one services such as video-on-demand (VOD) and shopping. With a hybrid approach, the opportunity exists to offer new of subscriber benefits in a seamless experience while the service operator improves both competitive position and revenue potential.
Operators can take different paths in the transition to a higher-value subscriber base, depending on their current infrastructure and business objectives. For example, DVB broadcasters may add IP-based video-on-demand services, while IPTV operators can benefit by adding DVB satellite or terrestrial channel bundles.
Content security technology has followed the evolution of pay-TV networks. While analog systems never had strong content security, the introduction of digital video broadcasting in the mid ‘90s had a profound impact. This led to the development of so-called conditional access systems, which in design have remained quite constant since then. Since broadcast networks were all one-way, a strong security element was required in the set-top box. The technology chosen was based on smart cards.
With the introduction of IP-based video in two-way broadband networks, a radical change took place. Instead of smart card based security, companies like Verimatrix developed a new architecture based on two-way communication and software-based security. By using technology proven in e-commerce applications, it was possible to improve the security for IPTV to such a degree that smart cards were no longer required.
Since a hybrid network is in principle a two-way IP network with a broadcast overlay, IPTV content security can be directly applied. This offers an opportunity to transition from legacy CA systems, based on smart cards, to a single software-based system that supports both broadcast and IP