The blog YTD2525 contains a collection of clippings news and on telecom network technology.
The S7 consists of various functional elements where the Message Transfer Part (MTP) is the common platform. MTP serves different user parts, such as Telephony User Part (TUP), Integrated Services Digital Network User Part (ISUP), and other functional elements like Signaling Connection Control Part (SCCP).
SCCP provides additional functionality to fulfill the need for extended services in certain applications. An example of an extended service is communication with the databases, Home Location Register (HLR) and Visitor Location Register (VLR), without any speech connection, e.g. communication during Location Updating.
The combination of the MTP and the SCCP is called the Network Service Part (NSP).
SCCP supports two network services:
- Connection Oriented (CO)
- ConnectionLess (CL)
The CO transfers many or long signaling messages between two nodes. In this case, it makes sense to “establish a logical connection” between the sender and receiver.
The CL transfers short messages, including routing information, to their destination.
Circuit-related vs. Non-circuit-related Signaling
Connectionless vs. Connection-Oriented Signaling
SCCP in GSM
The protocol between the Mobile services Switching Center/Visitor Location Register (MSC/VLR) and the Base Station Controller (BSC) is called Base Station System Application Part (BSSAP). BSSAP requires both the Connection Oriented (CO) and the ConnectionLess (CL) service.
The MSC/VLR, HLR, and GMSC communicate via the Mobile Application Part (MAP), using only the ConnectionLess (CL) mode. The Transaction Capabilities Application Part (TCAP) supports MAP. However, there is no need to describe TCAP functionality to understand how GSM works. While SCCP performs tasks similar to MTP; e.g. routing, SCCP allows only routing of MAP/BSSAP messages MTP and SCCP should be considered as two different networks that are linked together.
- CO – Connection-Oriented
- CL – Connectionless
- BSSAP – Base Station System Application Part
- BTAP – BSC/TRC Application Part
- CAP – CAMEL Application Part
- INAP – Intelligent Network Application Part
- ISUP – ISDN User Part
- MAP – Mobile Application Part
- TCAP – Transaction Capabilities Application Part
SCCP protocol classes
1. Connectionless (CL) Services:
- Class 0: Basic connectionless class
- Class 1: In-sequence delivery connectionless class
2. Connection-Oriented (CO) Services:
- Class 2: Basic connection-oriented class
- Class 3: Flow control connection-oriented class
SCCP Service Primitives
Service primitive – general syntax and examples
SCCP functional structure
Messages for Connection-Oriented Services:
Messages for Connectionless Services:
Parameters of some SCCP messages
1. Message Type = UDT (Unitdata)
2. Message Type = CR (Connection Request)
3. Message Type = DT1 (Data Form 1)
Overview of the structure of SCCP message
Detailed structure of SCCP message
Unitdata (UDT) message
SCCP enables an S7 to route MAP messages. Routing is always based on addresses. SCCP uses the following addresses:
- Calling address — identifies call origination
- Called address — identifies call destination
SCCP addressing is very flexible and makes use of three separate elements:
- Destination Point Code (DPC)
- Global Title (GT)
- SubSystem Numbers (SSN)
NA = Nature of Address
AI = Address Information
SSN = SCCP Subsystem Number
TT = Translation Table
NP = Numbering Plan
One, two, or three elements may be present in the address information for the called and the calling party. The form of the address depends on the service, application, and underlying network. The Address Indicator shows which information elements are present.
GLOBAL TITLE (GT)
The GT is of variable length, and can contain specified combinations of:
- Address Information (AI)
- Nature of Address (NA)
- Numbering Plan (NP)
- Translation Type (TT)
It does not contain information that allows routing in the signaling network. The translation function is required. The following sections contain details and typical values for some of the elements previously listed.
SUBSYSTEM NUMBER (SSN)
The terminating node examines the SSN to identify the concerned user (node).
8 GMSC, MSC
222 BSC (BSSAP) in case of ANSI signaling (GSM 1900)
224 HLR-R (HLR Redundancy)
254 BSC (BSSAP) in case of CCITT signaling (GSM 900)
3 ISUP (if ISUP uses SCCP)
Address Information (AI)
This is an address according to the numbering plan indicated. (See the example in Numbering Plan).
Nature of Address (NA)
NA indicates if the address is
3 – National
4 – International
format according to the numbering plan used.
Numbering Plan (NP)
NP indicates the numbering scheme from which the address originates:
1 – ISDN/Telephony Numbering Plan (E.163/E.164) e.g. MSISDN, GT address
7 – ISDN/Mobile Numbering Plan (E.214) e.g. IMSI, MGT (Location Updating)
Translation Type (TT)
A GT requires a translation function. The TT directs the message to the appropriate Global Title (GT) translation.
It is possible for the Address Information (AI) to be translated into different values for different combinations of DPCs, SSNs and GTs.
0 CCITT signaling
9 ANSI signaling
1-8 Used for the Service Center (SC) interface
10-254 MTS exchange property SMSFMOSMTRTYPE
Example: NA=4, NP=1, AI=49 172, TT=0
NP indicates a normal ISDN/Telephony number. NA indicates international format for AI. Therefore, 49 is the Country Code (CC) for Germany and 172 is the NDC for D2 operator, and the Translation Type (TT) is CCITT signaling.
SCCP address elements
Global Title Translation
AI – Address Information
NA – Nature of address
NP – Numbering Plan
TT – Translation Type
NS – Number Series
GTRC – Global Title Routing Case
PSP – Primary Signaling Point
SSP – Secondary Signaling Point
OWNSP – “Own” Signaling Point (terminating message)
Connectionless signaling sequence
Connectionless data flow
Data form 1 (DT1) message
Connection establishment data flow
Data transfer phase
Data transfer data flow
Connection release phase
Connection release data flow
SCCP Subsystem status management
SCCP addressing during a call to MS
SCCP addressing during location updating
SCCP addressing between MSC and BSC
Numbering Plan (NP)
- NP indicates how the global title address information is built up of different parts (for example, country codes, network codes, or a national significant number) according to the syntax and semantic, defined for that particular numbering plan.
- In GSM, two numbering plans are used: NP=1 (E.164, ISDN) and NP=7 (E.214, MGT, Mobile Global Title). E.164 (ISDN) numbering plan is normally used, while MGT is used to address some messages from the MSC/VLR to the HLR.
- E.164 is the numbering plan used in the PSTN/ISDN.
- Addresses using E.164 resemble “regular” phone numbers.
- The E.214 number (MGT) is derived from the subscriber’s IMSI by replacing the Mobile Country Code and Mobile Network Code by the ISDN Country Code and National Destination Code.
Intel missed the boat on mobile, and it may be facing a fight from ARM-based chips in the data center, but the chip giant isn’t going to sit back and lick its wounds. It is actively reaching out to the burgeoning maker and connected device crowd withdevelopment boards, it launched a new chip designed for the internet of things and it purchased an API management company. It is also going after a less sexy but still large market that seems ripe for some x86 chips — telecommunications.
Intel wants its chips inside the switches, routers and base stations that are the workhorses of the telecommunications network, even if it means making some sacrifices. To meet telecom’s requirements it will have to partner with another chip firm to get the right kind of processing power for base stations and change its focus from integrating everything into one chipset into a more modular system-on-a-chip model. In a conversation with Rose Schooler, the GM of Intel’s Communications Infrastructure Division, we discussed the chip firms plans for what it sees as a $16 billion market opportunity, why the telco market is ripe for disruption and what Intel has learned from its previous (and abandoned) forays into this market.
The emergence of Telco 2.0
But first, let’s talk about why this is even an opportunity for Intel. Today, the telco market has a big problem in that people love its products (especially wireless data) but the cost of meeting that demand is too high. One reason for such high costs is the type of equipment telcos purchase. The concept of “five-nines reliability” (available up to 99.999 percent of the time) and telco-grade gear have created a booming business for expensive boxes that handle much of the telecommunications industry’s needs. The dominant chips in this market are PowerPC or proprietary network processing chips from networking gear vendors.
But much like the server industry in the 1990s, when Intel saw an opportunity to move its PC chips upmarket, the telco world looks ready for a cheaper, good-enough chip as long as it can meet certain minimum specs. Already telcos are trying to consolidate their hardware (it’s not uncommon to see telecommunications providers have their internal IT, their IP video equipment and their cloud services all on three different platforms) on a common infrastructure to offer them more agility.
As this transition happens, Intel (as well as ARM) is trying to offer an architecture onto which telcos can consolidate. When you add in newer trends such as software-defined networking, the telecommunications industry is at an inflection point that all kinds of gear makers are trying to adapt to. Intel wants to be in on that, and has for a long time.
“This isn’t a strategy that started when SDN started to get attention,” Schooler said. “We’ve been on this journey for a decade. We’ve been looking at the evolution for the IA [Intel architecture] franchise within communications and redefined networking to boil it down into all of the infrastructure and workloads that support a network function.”
Understanding the workloads
Intel believes there are four different workloads that its chips can address. It has better hopes of success in some of these while Schooler admits it would need a partner in others. The segments are:
- Application processing: These are servers running traditional telco workloads like billing. This is an area where Intel already dominates in other enterprises so switching telcos to a commodity server architecture isn’t far-fetched. Investments include spending on carrier-grade Linux.
- Data plane processing: The data plane is how a router decides where to send a packet. This generally involves looking up information in a routing table that contains the network topology. Specialized processors from Broadcom and Cisco and Juniper handle the bulk of this work inside telcos today. And in the giant core elements that still will be the case, said Schooler, who noted that Intel isn’t going after the routers that handle the largest amounts of traffic. Frankly, it can’t: Its chips just aren’t fast enough. It’s current chip for this market, The Crystal Forrest chip handles 160 million packets per second.
- Control plane processing: This is the physical work of moving bits around the network. For a long time, control plane and the data plane processing were combined in a single box, but technologies like Open Flow are leading to a separation between the two.
- Signal processing: This area encompasses the radio access network or RAN, and this is where Intel is the weakest. Processing cellular signals requires specialized digital signal processors as well as chips that are able to convert analog signals to digital and sometimes back to analog. Intel clearly has an eye on this market, as my colleague Kevin Fitchard covered last year, but Schooler admitted that it would have to find a partner.
Handicapping Intel’s odds
A telco base station.
The challenge for Intel will not be proving that the market needs a more agile, lower-cost product, but that Intel’s architecture is the right one for the job across all four workloads. On the application side, it’s in a fine position, but on the control and data plane side it will need to develop an x86 chip that can offer the throughput of a network processing chip as well as features that telcos care about. This will require a new chip, and Schooler didn’t want to discuss this chip.
As for the signal processing, Intel has a deal with China Mobile to try to build out a Cloud-RAN, but China Mobile is also testing gear from Alcatel Lucent, an established vendor that has a partnership on the chip side with Freescale. That partnership seems to be going strong.
Schooler noted that in signal processing, Intel will likely have to rely on some-fixed function IP that comes from outside of Intel, which has me wondering where Intel will find the special-purpose compute engines to handle the tasks one taken on by DSPs.
In the core of the network, she’s more optimistic, pointing out that Intel has done a lot of work to upgrade its CPU architecture to rival the packet-moving prowess of a network processor. Schooler seemed to understand, however, that Intel will have to rely on proprietary networking chips (ASICs) as well as its acquisition of Fulcrum, a networking chip provider that Intel purchased in 2011.
“In the transport there will be a network processor and ASICs and the CPU will not take over all cases of throughput.” She pointed out that Intel has improved its throughput on its chips by 10x over previous generations, but she also knows that the fatter switches and routers that handle lots of traffic aren’t candidates for the Intel architecture today.
I’ve long said that you shouldn’t bet against Intel. This is a company that may miss a market, but it has the capital, the research and the market share to force its way into a business and make a go of it. Fundamentally, Intel bets on cheaper general purpose processing, which is how the market has moved over the last couple of decades.
It somehow missed the importance of lower power architectures, but is now doubling down on its commodity computing bet for the telecommunication market. We’ll see if the telcos are ready for that.
photo: Flickr user huangjiahui
Subscribers to the long-term evolution service, the fastest internet broadband, are estimated to have surpassed 50 percent of mobile phone users in Korea.
According to the domestic telecommunications industry yesterday, the number of LTE service subscribers at the three major service providers – SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ – stood at 27.35 million out of 54.4 million mobile phone users.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, which tracks the country’s information and telecommunications market, has yet to compile data for November. Its October data put LTE subscribers of the three mobile carriers at 26.59 million, or 48.9 percent.
An average of 700,000 to 900,000 LTE subscribers are added monthly.
SK Telecom and LG U+ commercialized the LTE service in Korea in July 2011.
The number of LTE subscribers surpassed 10 million in August 2012 and another 10 million were added by April.
The growth of the LTE service comes with the decline of 3G, the previous standard for wireless communications. According to the ministry, 3G subscribers accounted for 48.6 percent of mobile phone users in Korea in January, the first time they went below 50 percent. In October, 3G subscribers numbered only 19.73 million, or 36.3 percent of mobile phone users. As for the slower 2G service, SK Telecom had only 4.04 million subscribers and LG U+ 4.03 million subscribers in October. KT ended 2G service in January.
To lure more customers to LTE networks, mobile operators are competing to come up with more state-of-the-art LTE-related technologies.
Yesterday, KT demonstrated a data roaming service between KT’s LTE phone and China Mobile’s LTE phone at its Gwanghwamun branch.
LTE networks in use around the world are two different systems: FDD and TDD.
FDD, or the frequency division duplex long-term evolution, was developed first and is being adopted by the United States, Europe, Korea and Japan. The development of TDD, or the time division duplex long-term evolution, has been led by China.
Cybersecurity in 2014: A roundup of predictions: ZDNet might have picked up that I have done this for the past two years and Charles McLellan put together his own collection. This is a good place to start with lists from Symantec, Websense, FireEye,Fortinet and others. Mobile malware, zero-days, encryption, ‘Internet of Things,’ and a personal favorite, The Importance of DNS are amongst many predictions.
Eyes on the cloud: Six predictions for 2014: Kent Landry – Senior Consultant at Windstream focuses on Cloud futures in this Help Net Security piece. Hybrid cloud, mobility and that pesky Internet of Everything make the list.
5 key information security predictions for 2014: InformationWeek has Tarun Kaura, Director, Technology Sales, Symantec discuss the coming enterprise threats for 2014. Social Networking, targeted attacks, cloud and yet again, The Internet of Things finds a spot.
Top 10 Security Threat Predictions for 2014: This is essentially a slide show of Fortinet’s predictions on Channel Partners Telecom but good to review. Android malware, increased encryption, and a couple botnet predictions are included.
2014 Cyber Security Forecast: Significant healthcare trends: HealthITSecurity drops some security trends for healthcare IT security professionals in 2014. Interesting take on areas like standards, audit committees, malicious insiders and supply chain are detailed.
14 IT security predictions for 2014: RealBusiness covers 10 major security threats along with four ways in which defenses will evolve. Botnets, BYOD, infrastructure attacks and of course, the Internet of Things.
4 Predictions for 2014 Networks: From EETimes, this short list looks at the carrier network concerns. Mobile AAA, NFV, 5G and once again, the Internet of Things gets exposure.
8 cyber security predictions for 2014: InformationAge goes full cybercriminal with exploits, data destruction, weakest links along with some ‘offensive’ or retaliatory attack information.
Verizon’s 2014 tech predictions for the enterprise: Another ZDNet article covering the key trends Verizon believes will brand technology. Interest includes the customer experience, IT decentralization, cloud and machine-to-machine solutions.
Research: 41 percent increasing IT security budget in 2014: While not a list of predictions, this article covers a recent Tech Pro Research survey findings focused on IT security. The report, IT Security: Concerns, budgets, trends and plans, noted that 41 percent of survey respondents said they will increase their IT security budget next year. Probably to counter all the dire predictions.
A lot to consider as you toast the new year with the Internet of Things making many lists. The key is to examine your own business and determine your own risks for 2014 and tackle those first.
The software’s framework enables devices and apps to freely communicate with one another without the barriers that once kept operating systems and products from different companies separate. It will afford LG Smart TV users a previously unimaginable degree of freedom and generate new opportunities for app developers as well.
LG will incorporate AllJoyn to allow multiple devices to communicate with LG smart TVs simultaneously, creating an cross-OS environment where users can interact in new ways. Several smartphones or tablets, each running a completely different OS, can participate in the same multiplayer game on LG Smart TV. In Mini Motor Racing, one person can steer his or her car around the track using the LG Magic Remote while the other players control their vehicles via the LG Gamepad app on their mobile device. Looking forward, LG will continue to drive further innovation in consumer services that leverage the communication between devices and LG Smart TVs.
Carrier (or channel) aggregation, which is part of the 3GPP Release 10, represents a highly effective way to dramatically increase the transmission bandwidth as LTE-Advanced is adopted. This process makes it possible for multiple conventional LTE component carriers on the PHY layer, as opposed to single carriers, to be used together to ramp up supported data rates, reduce latency and enhance spectrum efficiency.
It’s the end of the year. Traditionally, that’s the time when folks in the tech media (analysts included) talk about their expectations for the upcoming year. Which technologies and services will gain momentum? Which will fall behind? What new innovations might we see emerge? Sometimes this is actually done within the context of the year we’re trying to put behind us. You know, the whole looking back to look forward thing.
I’m going to resist any temptation to follow suit.
Why? In part, I find these analyses largely gratuitous and rarely insightful; most of us have an idea of what’s coming up in the year ahead. If the goal, then, is to help operators or vendors with their marketing or product development planning, the entire exercise is a waste of time. At the same time, I have no interest in competing with what looks to be the penultimate 2013/2014 telecom and IT trends review. Pulling together Current Analysis’ brightest minds (well, and me), our, “Now and Then: Insights from 2013 and Drivers for 2014″ webinar isn’t one to miss. No, not every insight will be unexpected or earth-shattering. Some will be. More importantly, tying what our analysts see happening next year to recommendations should yield some actionable insights. Register here–you won’t regret it. (Trust me. I’ve seen all of the slides already)
So, if I’m not going to focus on the near-term, what’s left? The long-term, of course. And what’s everyone’s favorite long-term topic of the moment? 5G! Not “5G” the term used by some to describe LTE-A, but “5G” as in the evolution from LTE-A expected around the 2020 timeframe.
A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to be at Alcatel-Lucent’s Tech Symposium out in New Jersey. While the first day of presentations focused on business in the here and now, the last day included a presentation on “Fifth Generation Communications” by Tod Sizer, Access Domain Leader at Bell Labs. It was a good slide deck, in part because of its simple message; 5G isn’t about speed, new air interfaces or the Internet of Things–It’s about delivering a better end-to-end network performance with enhanced (tailored) support for diverse applications. You can check out the slides here.
I don’t mean to single this presentation out because Alcatel-Lucent’s positioning around 5G is incredibly unique or an outlier amongst its competitors. Quite the opposite; 5G as a return to the concept of “always best connected” seems to be the de facto view of the technology. Rather than a technology, per se, it’s more about optimizing the network to accommodate specific application demands, coverage demands and expectations around network usage and density evolutions. And if this is correct, you’ll probably never have an opportunity to buy a “5G” service.
When WiMAX services first started rolling out, a lot was made of what could–or couldn’t–be marketed as 4G. More recently, the discussion has been around what could–or couldn’t–be called LTE-Advanced. In each case, I’ve taken a liberal stance. If 4G is a marketing term (and, it is), then marketers should get to use it flexibly. If LTE-Advanced includes multiple components, then deploying one of them should get you some credit, especially if an operator can link this to enhanced service performance…like we’ve seen out of Korea:
Source: SK Telecom
But, if like 4G, 5G is just a marketing term, a future with “5G services” in it looks unlikely. 5G as it’s currently understood will be a tough thing for anyone to wrap their marketing machines around for a handful of reasons.
- Air Interface. The move from GSM/EDGE to WCDMA was easy to position as a generational shift because it came with a new air interface. Same thing is true for the move from WCDMA/HSPA to LTE. Right or wrong, if 5G doesn’t come with a new air interface, it might not feel like a next-generation anything.
- Faster Speeds. Generational shifts in mobile technologies have come to be associated with speed bumps. If 5G isn’t about faster speeds, explaining to consumers why it’s significantly different from 4G and why it’s something they want won’t be easy.
- Coverage & Density. It’s great that 5G will support enhanced coverage models and the added demands that come with high (or variable) user density. How many operators would be willing to play up the fact that their new technology delivers the reliability they should have expected with the old technology?
- IMT-Advanced Advanced. While the ITU didn’t define 3G or 4G, their specifications for IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced, respectively, set out how people thought about them. So, where’s the next version of IMT-Advanced? Sure, folks like ETSI and METIS will set out 5G requirements and the technologies that could meet them–but that’s far from anointing them.
Yes, I’m making something of a leap here; if you can’t market something, it doesn’t really exist. Where you’re talking about a collection of technologies and no one is making it clear where the threshold for 5G actually is, however, it’s not that much of a leap. Of course, there is hope for future wireless marketer. 5G may not be about new data speeds, but it will likely support them. Likewise, 5G may not be about new air interfaces, but it will likely include them.
Ultimately, however, the best scenario may be a future where marketers are forced to look beyond the “G” as a marketing tool. The concept of 5G as a combination of diverse technologies aimed at delivering a seamless, application-specific user experience makes sense. It’s a concept that should benefit the end-user. If operators are forced to find a way to sell that concept (vs. selling speed), then the true value of what 5G can deliver will be better understood. After years of selling Gs and Mbps, this won’t be easy. Luckily, we’ve all got a few years before we need to worry about 5G being a commercial reality.
Now that war has reached TVs. Media fragmentation and the growth of cord cutters, cord shavers and younger “cord nevers” are making TV one of the most hotly contested theaters of The War for the Start Screen. The victors will be those that “own” the viewing experience from the moment the power button is switched on. Their spoils will be riches from the ad revenues, subscriptions and transactions flowing from viewer “ownership.”
The stakes are high, and there will be blood. Control of the screen is a sophisticated play requiring good timing, deep pockets, the right content and the ability to deliver the best viewing experience. At stake is a whopping share of the $150+ billion-a-year broadcast TV industry.
Competitors for the TV start screen include content providers, TV manufacturers, device manufacturers, and of course the big guns, the service providers. (Admittedly there are dozens of other vying for control, but in the interest of space, let’s focus on the categorical front-runners in the U.S.).
But, what weapons does each contender have in his arsenal, and how will each fare in the battle?
Content only providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and YouTube are noteworthy players in this war. They can either battle in the connected/smart TV realm (which could benefit from a friendlier user interface) or bypass the TV as the starting point, and use second screen apps on smartphones, tablets, and laptops to make these devices the real start screen.
That’s where they have more control and ability to engage and retain the viewer. But they’re not the only ones with that ammunition, as MSOs and networks can take the same route, as many already have.
These content providers are also significant for the mark they’ve made with original programming (such as House of Cards, Battleground) and original channels (AwesomenessTV). But despite all their appeal to viewers, it’s questionable if these players can sustain original content production and remain profitable with their current subscriber models. (Google recently announced it will be increasing its paid channel pilot program to include more content creators.)
Hardware manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Vizio and others currently control the start screen, so it’s theirs to lose. While they had largely ceded control to service providers whose set-top boxes and satellite dishes take immediate control of navigation, they’ve been given another chance in the connected world.
As the battle wears on, these manufacturers are racing to pump up Smart TV content with games, advertising, software and other features. But despite these efforts, the US will soon be lagging behind other markets in Smart TV sales.
Some observers, like Jia Wu, director for connected home devices at Strategy Analytics, attribute the slowing sales to platform choices made by certain US manufacturers. “Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic will continue to compete in the US and European Smart TV market with products based on their own platforms or third-party platforms such as Google TV. Chinese TV manufacturers like Hisense, TCL and Skyworth are embracing Android, which already offers a plethora of apps and content.”
In addition to the content challenge, the typical 5- to 7-year purchase cycle for a TV puts manufacturers continually behind the curve on delivering new “f-factors” (fun, features and functionality). TV makers could gain more of an edge in the war by delivering their own low-cost mini-hardware upgrades in the open market – perhaps in the form of low-cost dongles or plug-and-play devices that break out of the traditional purchase cycle and give new functionality to aging TVs.
Device manufacturers, Apple with AppleTV, Roku, Boxee, and Google with Chromecast are a mixed lot. While they don’t own the start screen yet, this group is more nimble and diverse than the larger hardware guys, so they have a good shot. However, some of these devices need to address ease-of-use issues before they can reach critical mass. And, to survive the long-term battle, all device manufacturers need a recurring revenue stream to make up for the typically low margins in device sales.
Among this group, Apple and Google are well positioned for success because of their ability to treat devices as loss leaders while building the mass market acceptance needed to win service fees and transactions at a massive scale. Chromecast gives Google (which can certainly weather a loss leader) a low-cost device to not only simplify web video access, but to boost YouTube viewership and revenue as well.
Meanwhile, we should keep a very close eye on gaming consoles, especially Microsoft’s Xbox. Gaming console makers have demonstrated their ability to become the centerpiece of the home entertainment system, and with even more media-centric features in the newest versions, they pose a considerable threat.
Historically, multi-system operator (MSO) and multichannel video programming distributors(MVPD) such as Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon and others have owned the start screen and the TV viewing experience. These players currently have a distinct advantage over others because they are flush with subscriber fees and aren’t shackled by major manufacturing costs. They also have the advantage of being able to deliver content to multiple devices.
Over time, this group may not even use the traditional set-top hardware and could deliver the entire experience on a lower-cost device/dongle or directly over broadband (typically owned by MSOs). While we continue to hear pro cord-cutting arguments, the truth is that a la carte TV would be more expensive than most Pay TV. (Read Ben Thompson’s StraTechery column for more on that.) The question for this group is: can they innovate quickly enough to build a compelling value prop for cord-cutting advocates and other consumers?
Tablets and smartphones are making a grab for the start screen as more people put laptops and notebooks aside. In fact, video viewing increased by 41% on phones and 59% on tablets during the first half of 2013. Many viewers use tablets and smartphones as their start screen before they even look to the TV, relying on web-based aggregators or network-owned apps for easier-to-navigate content discovery. As such, these devices favor aggregators and content owners and could potentially displace cable boxes and other OTT devices.
And the victor is??? There are still battles to be fought in the war for the start screen, chief among them the struggles to deliver content to fragmented devices, simplify user interfaces, and improve search and discovery tools. In the end, control of the start screen will come down to who can connect consumers to the most value and the best experiences – so while the battle may be ugly, consumers will ultimately benefit.
And, while it remains to be seen who will persevere in the next phase of the war for the start screen, history makes one thing quite clear: the ability to capture a viewer’s rapt attention the moment the screen flickers on is a war worth waging.
These documents can be downloaded from the 3GPP FTP site.
In addition, there’s a presentation from Qualcomm on the same topic.