With the emergence of connected devices in the past years, the home network is now a reality.

Consumers now expect all their devices to be able to discover the home network, talk to each other and share content and they’re no longer prepared to put up with the old boundaries that handicapped their freedom to access content and applications. Consumers, the cable industry and its stakeholder partners now understand that this migration towards far more promiscuous models of content and device interaction is inevitable – and perhaps even desirable. And consumers don’t just want to share video – they also want to share experiences and opinions too. There has been an explosion not just in consumer devices and applications but also an increasing overlap between their functions. Mobile phones have high quality cameras, while cameras themselves can be directly linked to a wireless printer. Gaming consoles play DVDs, while Connected TVs merge the Web with traditional broadcast media models.

While many homes may already be using these new devices to connect with new sources of entertainment, information, games and applications, we’re really only scratching the surface of these capabilities. This is where communications service providers, broadcasters and content owners, and software, hardware and consumer electronics vendors have a chance to really delight and entertain their customers. Making cable operators more able to extend the reach of their brands and launch new revenue generating services and enhance existing advertising models, but the flip-side is that new market entrants, such as OTT providers, are also now able to enter the market and disrupt existing business models.

As far as the consumer is concerned, the technologies and complex business relationships that lie behind their screens, devices, content, applications and broadband connections are irrelevant. What they want and expect is out of the box seamless connectivity – and that’s what the standards such as DLNA deliver. For the ever-wider range of companies that see broadband connections and home networks as new routes to their customers’ hearts, minds, pockets and purses, their choice of software platform will be critical. For this community, the maturing of the home network environment offers CE (consumer electronics) manufacturers an opportunity to enhance a basic product platform with connectivity, easy upgrades and new applications. As a result, the CE manufacturers can enhance their brand values, actively grow and support their communities of users, block the competition and increase the ‘stickiness’ of their offerings through creative differentiation and marketing.

Against this backdrop, the role of platforms that can provide the enhanced connectivity necessary to support this new business model and evolve to exploit revenues generated by software is of paramount importance. As the lines between products and services become blurred, the right software can provide an evolutionary gateway to new revenue streams and increased customer loyalty – as well as an opportunity to strategically partner from a position of strength with other players in the virtual value chain.

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a standards consortium that created guidelines for media sharing and distribution among Consumer Electronic devices. DLNA has opened up the guidelines for content from outside the home and has also added Premium Video sharing and link layer protection.

Adherence to the latest DLNA guidelines is crucial if technology vendors want to stay ahead of the curve in providing stand-out solutions which allow operators and device manufacturers to continue making multiscreen a success. For instance, with DLNA Premium Video, service providers can offer consumers the ability to stream their favourite television programs and movies to DLNA Certified® products such as digital televisions, tablets, mobile phones, Blu-ray disc players and video game consoles.

Content security and integrity remain the first concerns of content owners. Studios and content owners remain reluctant to enable the distribution of high value content to those “uncontrollable” devices.

Offering DLNA within their media content gateways is a dilemma for the Pay TV operator. Opening their platform to devices that are not controlled could be a real security threat. However in parallel this is a “must have” feature and a key competitive differentiator.

ACCESS has recently developed a solution which enables the delivery of ‘studio-confident’ media sharing. By integrating leading security software into its DLNA Technology Component™, studios and content owners can now be confident that their most valuable content, such as early release HD movies, can be securely shared between devices and that all business model constraints can be maintained.

Enabling commercial media to be streamed between devices opens up a powerful model for home content consumption which brings with it exciting content monetization opportunities. The impressive volume of connected devices already deployed on the market represents a huge opportunity for cable operators and content owners who wish to increase their revenues. Some of these devices are reachable with an “Over-the-Top” cloud-based type of service but content sharing service remains a challenge if interoperability and content protection topics are not addressed.

We believe that providing consumers this shared multiscreen experience is key to being able to defend and increase profits in such a turbulent time for the cable industry. Traditional silos need to be broken down, and both customers and operators need a true end-to-end environment that is secure, flexible, adaptable and, above all, has ‘straight out of the box’ ease of use as standard. ACCESS is committed to driving forward this change by giving operators a toolkit of solutions which allows them to embrace the new multiscreen world.

Neale Foster


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