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Set-Top Platforms

Transform the user experience on the TV while reducing costs and time to market with high-quality, robust set-top platforms

We call them 'set-tops' but they stopped being on top of the TV long ago. Today, they are evolving to connected media devices with IP and/or Wi-Fi connectivity. They are expected to deliver high-quality, secure, premium services to the primary screen in the home – the TV – and rapid service evolution and app services.

Even as functions move to the cloud with set-top virtualization, there will continue to be a need for and benefit from using a dedicated device to help control and optimize the customer experience.

Driving the consumer experience

For Service Providers, the user experience on the TV is an important part of their brand. A set-top assists in managing that experience in number of ways, as a platform on which the service provider's experience can be built, on which other experiences can be co-delivered while retaining the usage data their subscribers create.

The benefits of the set-top box to Service Providers include:

  • The first and primary screen interface consumers see when turning on a TV—no need to scroll through a list to find the service provider app
  • Streamlined testing and support to keep pace with the growing number of TV models
  • Determine the functions on the remote control, like voice control or IoT features
  • Choice of content protection, making it easier to obtain rights to high value content
  • Ability to integrate third party OTT services and apps within the user interface
  • Maintain the customer interaction, usage data and relationship

Ensure service quality

  • A consistent user experience for all customers, regardless of the make of TV
  • Easily implement remote management and service monitoring tools
  • The ability to specify the Wi-Fi connection to ensure the quality of HD, 4K and future video standards

Evolve the service

The latest set-top platforms deliver capabilities to enhance the consumer experience with features like:

  • Richer user interface, with more detail and 3D graphics
  • UltraHD content- 4K, 8K with wide color gamut, higher frame rates and High Dynamic Range
  • Improved surround sound audio
  • Voice control
  • Wi-Fi connectivity for easier installation and flexible location of the set top with today's wall mounted flat screen TVs
  • The ability to stream content to tablets and phones in the home - without additional network bandwidth
  • Smaller set-tops and Bluetooth LE remote controls allow the set-top to be completely hidden from sight

For Service Providers, there are features to reduce the costs of content delivery and support including:

  • Support for higher efficiency encoding, including HEVC, to reduce network bandwidth demands
  • A superior wireless experience with lower OPEX costs as the set-top is part of a self-optimizing, managed home network like ARRIS HomeAssure™
  • A managed device: provide remote monitoring, diagnostics and analytics, important for premium services on the main TV
  • Support for IP VOD services from third parties, reducing content license costs and larger VOD content catalogs


ARRIS Set-Top Platform - The set-top is evolving


4K Set-Top Box Market

The consumer experience on the set-top is an important part of the Service Provider’s brand. It needs to be distinct within their market based on consumer demands and competitive alternatives, with an agile approach to service creation and development to be more responsive to the market.

Our approach is to offer choices in the user interface by enabling a wide range of third-party software middleware – User Experience products on our set-top platforms. We also offer the ability for Service Providers to develop their own UI using ARRIS software and services.

Simplifying deployment with software platforms

Generally, set-tops perform similar functions, like decryption and playing video, regardless of the device. The unique part of the customer experience is the 'look and feel' of the menu and the logic behind how consumers interact with the UI.

Traditional 'middleware' has historically been a monolithic piece of software with a client which runs directly on the set-top hardware. Recently, though, the industry trend has shifted towards 'software platforms', or 'hardware abstraction layers' which perform the common functions of set-tops while providing an API (Application Programming Interface) to the software that provides the user interface.

ARRIS has more than 10 years of experience in this set-top software approach with KreaTV and many other middleware software solutions. Today we offer set-top solutions which support:

Pioneered by COMCAST, RDK is an open-source software platform gaining popularity among cable TV Service Providers. ARRIS is a worldwide leader in RDK development, contributing to the code-base and having delivered tens of millions of RDK set-tops with many successful customer deployments around the globe. ARRIS provides RDK based set-tops for COMCAST's X1 platform, which is being syndicated for use to other Service Providers.

A mature software platform for ARRIS set-tops. It provides a wide choice of UIs / middleware from third parties and is popular among Service Providers due to the way it simplifies development and eases migration to new hardware.

Android TV
Android is an increasingly attractive option due to its common development environment for the set-top, tablet and smartphone. The Android TV Operator Tier (GMS) enables a Service Provider branded user experience along with the familiar Google services such as YouTube and the Android App store. The Android Open Source Project allows operators to take greater control of the user experience with no integrated Google services or application store. ARRIS has developed Android AOSP and GMS solutions for a number of years with active deployments for several major Service Providers.

ARRIS also offers solutions for User Experience software that integrates directly onto the hardware, providing a breadth of choice for the service provider.

Simplifying deployment with software platforms
Licensing model Free license  Free license  Royalty based on features 
Open standards  HMTL5, Linux, GStreamer etc.  Android TV Operator Tier GMS
AOSP option for full control 
Application support  HTML apps, YouTube and Netflix need agreement  Android, HTML, Play Store (including revenue share), YouTube and Netflix in Operator Tier, otherwise by agreement  HTML apps, YouTube and Netflix integrated 
Multiscreen support  Cloud and Set-top  Cloud  Cloud 
Industry adoption  Major cable operators  Mobile, web, TV  European telcos 
Portability  Hardware independent gateways and set-tops shared codebase  Hardware independent  ARRIS hardware only 

Benefits of a hardware abstraction layer

  • Faster time to market - it is quicker to develop a new UI or modify an existing one
  • Hardware independence - as new hardware becomes available, the set-top vendor does the work of integrating the software platform, reducing development effort to transfer the User Experience
  • Greater choice - easier to multi-source products from vendors that support the same software platform
  • Access to larger pool of developer skills

Related Information

A compelling, modern user interface helps gain new customers, but it’s important to offer a similar experience to your existing customers. The installed base of set-tops may not have the processing power and memory to render the graphics or run an HTML browser. The options are:

  1. Continue with the old platform and accept current and new subscribers will have a different experience
  2. Replace the existing set-tops to support new UI with the CAPEX and logistics challenge that entails
  3. Take a virtualized UI approach such as ActiveVideo®

Virtualizing set-top functionality allows service providers to offer a consistent user experience on new and current set tops without having to do a ‘rip and replace’. By rendering the UI in the cloud and delivering the resulting interface as an image in a video stream to the set-top, richer graphical and visual user experiences can be supported. A small footprint ‘nano client’ is installed in the set-top which relays the remote control key presses back to servers in the data center. These are processed and the relevant UI is delivered as video in a format suitable for the set-top.

Using the ActiveVideo CloudTV platform service providers can simplify the migration from an existing middleware platform to another, avoiding the need to replace the set-top or undertake complex integration. It can support different levels of virtualized functionality, including the complete EPG, Cloud based VOD libraries and OTT service applications.

OTT services and applications that cannot be supported by the legacy set-top hardware can now be supported. Run in the cloud, the new applications become available to any device with the Nano Client installed, reducing implementation and accreditation timescales.

ActiveVideo is a joint venture of ARRIS Group, Inc. and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR).

Delivering a new user experience on legacy set-tops

Related Information

As Service Providers know, it’s not just about the lowest cost hardware. Today, success requires the right combination of software and hardware to fit into a high-quality, reliable overall service delivery platform.

At ARRIS, our solutions are a valuable investment, with features like:

  • Customized solutions or ready to go products for cable, telco, satellite and OTT
  • Scale with the flexibility, expertise, breadth of capabilities to create ideal bespoke solutions
  • End-to-end expertise in the service delivery platform (video processing, networks, virtualization) to create the right solution for your architecture
  • Track record in delivering high-quality products to major Service Providers around the world
  • State-of-the-art supply chain, delivering product when and at the volumes you need
  • System integration services and UX implementation Services
  • Content protection expertise, with a wide choice of DRM and Conditional Access products
  • Agnostic to any middleware or UI, providing the flexibility to create unique consumer experiences
Why ARRIS for set-top solutons - Scalable Supply Chain

Related Information

Solution Products

Video Devices for ARRIS KreaTV®
Video Devices for ARRIS KreaTV®
Telco, cable and OTT set-tops for the ARRIS KreaTV software platform
Video Devices for Android TV™
Video Devices for Android TV™
Set-top solutions with Android TV Operator Tier
Video Devices for RDK
Video Devices for RDK
Set-tops and Smart Media Devices for the RDK-V software platform