Low-ARPU operators are typically faced with STBs either being expensive vs. ARPU or of too poor quality. ALi Corp., a high volume manufacturer of System-on-Chip (SoC) for STBs, and Abel DRM Systems, a CAS specialist, now address this dilemma by offering support for Abel CAS in ALi’s STB SoCs pre-reference design.
Without relevant expertise, integration of support for CAS is complex and tedious for STB manufacturers. Expertise costs money or time. STB manufacturers who otherwise have good products may be stalled. The result is less flexibility for pay-TV operators.
With the CAS support integrated in the reference design, the CAS threshold is reduced significantly. This helps STB manufacturers to launch wider ranges of products including STBs addressing segments so far poorly served – like the low-ARPU or small operators.
The targets of the ALi – Abel integration are indeed to enable operators lower cost STB models, lower Minimum-Order-Quantity, consistent STB software quality and wide choice of STBs. Wide choice is not only about cost, it is also about offering the subscribers the features making them join or stay with the operator. STB vendors gain comfort in the stability of the CAS implementation and can allocate more resources to operator specific customizations.
“Our initiative is in very good timing with the upcoming digitalization of Indian cable networks. Most cable subscribers take the basic tier only. The low ARPU demands the cost of user placed equipment to be low. On the other hand, the subscribers should still be able to enjoy the benefits of digital TV such as EPG and wider choice of channels and packages, as well as (USB) PVR. The equipment then needs to be of good quality and flexible. This is indeed obtained with the ALi core” says Ole Hansvold, Abel CEO and one of the pioneers of Indian pay-TV to CableQuest.
Tony Chang, General Manager of ALi’s International Business Unit, adds “ALi has shipped more than 300 million units of STB chipsets across the world over the past 6 years. We are proficient in providing best-of-breed solutions while maintaining an optimal cost level that is ideal for boosting TV digitalization rate in fast growing regions such as India, South Eastern Asia, Russia, and Latin America. We are glad to have Abel, a CAS vendor specifically targeting low-ARPU and small operators, as our partner to jointly deliver the most attractive STB combination from mpeg2 SD to mpeg4 HD to our target markets including Indian cable Pay-TV operators and similar market segments around the globe. Furthermore, this offer based on pre-reference design allows our STB customers to maximize the development by their R&D of valuable differentiation features .”
“While necessary for the cable industry to develop, the Indian Government’s directive for digitalization has imposed tough deadlines for many operators” Hansvold continues. “However, as relevant Indian standards are already supported, and with ALi and Abel already having reference installations in India, the ALi – Abel initiative can significantly reduce lead-times for cable operators under time-pressure.”