Cable Show: Arris CEO: OTT Boxes Pose Threat & Opportunity

Bring Risk To STBs, But Are Great For The Broadband Biz

Los Angeles – The emergence of the Apple TV device, Google Chormecast, Roku Platform and the new Amazon Fire TV represent both threats and opportunities to Arris’s set-top box unit, Bob Stanzione, Arris’s president and CEO, said here Wednesday during The Cable Show’s general opening session.

Although these retail devices are capable of streaming video and accessing authenticated TV Everywhere apps with the potential to do much more, “We view those devices as additive to our business,” Stanzione said, because they are typically streaming traffic over cable networks.

Arris became a major set-top box player last April when it completed its acquisition of Motorola Home from Google (Stanzione reflected on that deal for this story in Multichannel News). But Stanzione pointed out other key parts of the vendor’s business, including video encoding and broadband access gear, are poised to benefit because video streaming is also causing operators to add capacity to their networks and drive toward speeds in the neighborhood of 1 Gigabit per second.

He also said there’s nothing stopping Arris from integrating the kinds of features that the new OTT retail players are offering now. “It’s a matter of business arrangmenets, not a matter of technology,” Stanzione said.

Fellow panelist Tom Rutledge, the president and CEO of Charter Communications, amplified that point, noting that new Arris boxes that he’s deploying can function like a standard set-top or morph into modern IP devices.

The conversation also turned toward faster broadband speeds and centered on DOCSIS 3.1, the next-gen platform that will offer multi-gigabit speeds and will soon carry the consumer-facing brand of “Gigasphere.”

Arris, Stanzione said, will invest $500 million in R&D this year, with much of it going toward DOCSIS 3.1 development. Here at the show, Arris is showing its flagship cable modem termination system running D3.1 traffic, at least in the downstream direction.

Echoing expectations of some of the nation’s top cable engineering execs, Stanzione said he expects D3.1 equipment to be available toward the end of 2015.

Broadband, multiscreen access, and the emergence of OTT video device options have also been transformational for programmers.

In the early days of TV Everywhere, developing apps was “not our core competence,” Matt Blank, chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks, said. “They’re becoming our core competence.”