Providing Multi-Screen Service to Cable Subscribers in Taiwan
Taiwan has comprehensively implemented the deployment of digital television since 2012. Shi Xin Cable Television, one of Taiwan's independently-operated cable TV enterprises, has actively carried out a 100% all-digital program, and seeks to expand its services through multi-screen service. Eventually, Shi Xin hopes to become one of the cable networks realizing rapid digitization in Taiwan by introducing Inspur's STB-9832C HD set-top box, which will enable Shi Xin to realize and benefit from multi-screen service without changing its existing platform.
Taiwan Carrying Out 100% Transition to Digital TV
Shi Xin Cable TV is based in the city of Jiayi, and its headquarters is located at the foot of Alishan. As an influential independently-operated cable TV system, Shi Xin provides cable TV and Internet service to residents of the Jiayi area.
Many companies in Taiwan have striven to provide HD Digital TV since 2012. Taiwan ended wireless analog TV broadcasting on June 30, 2012, and launched digital TV in July. According to the requirements of Taiwan's National Communications Commission, cable TV companies must cooperate, and should endeavor to realize full digitization in 2014 and provide HD digital enjoyment to subscribers.
Thanks to the popularization of digitization, competition between TV service providers has been becoming increasingly fiercer. In Taiwan, there are about one hundred companies providing cable TV service. As a result, in order to keep its leading role in this market, Shi Xin has embarked 100% comprehensive digitization.
Multi-Screen Service is the Key to Development
Since it was founded, Shi Xin Cable TV has consistently upheld the operative principle of “Leading and Innovative.” In addition, the name "Shi Xin" expresses the meaning of “strive to do the best, and always innovate.” Shi Xin is well aware that, the more advanced the technology, the more users will seek information. As a result, digital set-top boxes will become an everyday necessity for each household.
Although Shi Xin has benefited from its effectiveness at popularizing digital TV, it still faces the tough challenge of competing with OTT and IPTV. According to statistics from National Communications Commission, in 2013, the number of TV subscribers in Taiwan was 7 million, which represented a small drop compared with 2012. Attracted by the company's services, the number of IPTV subscribers increased by 31%, compared with last year, and it now has more than 1.1 million subscribers. In addition, the appeal of OTT, which provides services such as media sharing and multiple interactive applications, has rocked the market for TV service in Taiwan.
And since customers are getting used to receiving and watching video at any time and place, in order to provide sufficient service to its existing subscribers in the future, Shi Xin has carried out a thorough examination of how to expand its service. After conducting a survey involving interviews and analysis, Shi Xin Cable TV has concluded that it should launch multi-screen service on the basis of its existing cable TV service, which will be the most effective solution in the face of market competition.
While most companies are launching multi-screen service by changing their digital front platforms, this runs into the problem of technological differences. In addition, any one digital TV platform may be outdated tomorrow, and a change in front-end platform may not only be a waste of money and resources, but also affect the function of existing digital set-top boxes. These are the reasons that, after extensive analysis, Shi Xin still had difficulty finding a satisfying and effective solution.
Is it possible to start from the transformation of the terminal instead of the front-end?
As a consequence, in 2013, Shi Xin spent an entire year in seeking a multi-screen service solution involving terminals, instead of conducting a massive transformation of its front-end. This solution would not only provide adequate service to its existing customers, but also enable it to better compete with OTT and IPTV.
Can Multi-Screen Service be Realized without a System Transformation?
At the ICTC Cable Transmission and Coverage conference held in Hangzhou in October 2013, Shi Xin Cable TV expressed great interest in STB-9832C, a HD set-top box shown by Inspur. According to Wang Guohui, the chief executive of Shi Xin Cable TV, “This product from Inspur is exactly what we have been looking for.”
The STB-9832C, which contains an HD dual-core decoding chip, can support a full band tuner and three-way demodulation, and can also provide HD video and fast channel changing.
Thanks to Inspur's set-top box, software, and middleware, service providers can provide multi-screen service to subscribers with only a home digital set-top box. Different mobile terminals can enjoy multi-screen TV service by using only one set-top box. In addition, this set-top box also incorporates a full band tuner, which enables users to change channels in ms, and improves the slow channel changing in conventional digital TV. Through the adoption of this solution, Shi Xin's competitiveness has been greatly improved.
Furthermore, the multi-screen interactive solution provided by Shi Xin Cable is designed to support mobile viewing. By enabling users to enjoy HD at any time and any place, this solution creates a three-dimensional, multifunctional multimedia center, and allows multilayer in-depth interaction between multi-screen terminals and TV terminals to be realized. It also ensures that users can enjoy services provided by TV networks in the comfort of their homes.
Creating a Win-Win Situation
Shi Xin Cable TV signed a cooperation agreement with Inspur concerning the latter's STB-9832C product in January 2014. By adopting this product and Inspur's deployment plan, Shi Xin has gradually been able to realize its goal of full digitization. While achieving full digitization faster than most cable networks, Shi Xin also provides users with multi-screen service, which benefits and enhances the interest of terminal buyers. And thanks to an installment payment plan, an increasing number of users are starting to enjoy the high-quality service provided by digital HD and multi-screen technology.
First, due to the popularization of HD and multi-screen service, the proportion of users of digital TV in Jiayi increased from 60% in 2013 to 90% at the present. In addition to expanding its service, Shi Xin is also providing two-way interactive broadband. Shi Xin CEO Wang Guohui points out, “Judging from the current situation, we are fully confident we can achieve full digitization in 2015.”
Second, the realization of multi-screen interaction enables users to watch different live TV programs using different types of mobile terminals, and lets them receive and share video at any time and place. Apart from improving users' viewing experience, the introduction of multi-screen functionality has benefited operators, who can charge for a second or third mobile terminal.
Third, PVR video recording, which is another function of the 9832 set top box, enables users record exciting games and TV shows, so that they can watch them many times. In view of the current situation of two-way networks in Taiwan's cable TV market, the PVR function can directly improve Shi Xin's two-way service, avoid the need for back-end servers, and significantly reduce the cost of installing and maintaining two-way platforms.
Thanks to steadily improving product technology, digital TV will continue to make new strides toward diversification by providing even more varied multimedia service. As a result, Shi Xin Cable TV and the rest of cable industry in Taiwan will pursue a strategy of actively expanding into new markets and developing new media services. Incorporating the advantages of cable TV and aiming for future growth, CEO Wang Guohui declares, “We’ll continue our cooperation with enterprises like Inspur to create a blueprint for the digitization of cable TV and embrace a new world of media.”