Arris has been tabbed as a “key participant" in the development of WorldBox 2.0, a next-gen video platform that Charter Communications will be rolling across its footprint.
The announcement for the next-gen WorldBox also comes on the heels of a warrant agreement in which Charter can buy up to 6 million shares of Arris based on certain product purchases over the next two years.
Like the first generation of the WorldBox, the 2.0 version will also be a hybrid IP/QAM platform that features a cloud-based interface. However, the new iteration, they said, will expand on Charter’s current downloadable conditional access capabilities and enhance legacy hardware-based security systems implemented across Charter’s new footprint.
That combination will enable faster and more cost-effective deployment of the new platform, the companies said, noting that the new devices will support built-in security processing capabilities that are “now available in generic chipsets.” WorldBox 2.0 will also feature advanced graphics capabilities and processing power, they said.
Arris, which acquired U.K.-based Pace plc in January 2016 and Motorola Home in 2013, is the world’s largest supplier of set-top boxes, and apparently will be joining Charter’s mix of WorldBox suppliers. Technicolor (via the acquisition of Cisco Systems’s set-top and CPE business nearly a year ago) and Humax are the other known WorldBox suppliers.
Arris and Charter are also joint owners of ActiveVideo, the vendor that is enabling the MSO’s cloud-powered Spectrum guide on Charter’s prior-generation set-tops. Charter has already introduced Spectrum Guide in markets such as Fort Worth, Texas; and Reno, Nev. It’s made to run on the WorldBox as well as legacy, MPEG/QAM-only set-top.
Speaking on Charter’s Q2 call in August, company CEO Tom Rutledge said the plan is to have Spectrum Guide available in most legacy Charter markets by the end of 2016, and to launch it in some of the larger former Time Warner Cable markets by mid-2017, followed by rollouts in other TWC and Bright House markets through 2018.
"While Charter is focused on providing a secure video product on all devices, WorldBox 2.0 provides the same advanced video experience consumers are demanding on traditional television sets, and gives Charter the flexibility to deploy a single platform across our entire expanded network," Jim Blackley, Charter’s EVP, engineering and IT, said in a statement. "Our ongoing work with ARRIS – in developing this platform, including the downloadable security component – and the establishment of the warrant program, speaks to the strength of our long-standing relationship and the value of ARRIS's expertise in large-scale, next-generation deployments."
"We share Charter's vision for a new era of entertainment technology that leverages the power of the network and cloud to adapt to its subscribers' evolving needs," added Bruce McClelland, CEO of Arris. "With WorldBox 2.0, we're bringing to bear our expertise and scale to help Charter deliver next-gen entertainment experiences that will transform the way that its millions of subscribers will watch TV and access their favorite content on traditional television sets."