In cooperation with a set-top box partner, ModernTV has recently released its new platform – a hybrid set-top box. These new hybrid STBs are supporting not only unicast streaming but also IP multicast streaming as well as one of the transmission methods of digital video broadcasting (DVB) – terrestrial, satellite or cable. These streaming options are beneficial for TV operators who need to reduce the data traffic in an IP network as much as possible and this is exactly where hybrid STBs shine.
Everything has its pros and cons. There is a specific group of operators who will be benefiting from the possibility of supporting multiple technologies (DVB multicast, IPTV multicast, unicast) especially when they are offering different content for each platform while delivering only one end-user device to the subscriber. Alternatively, hybrid STBs might also be their only option because of the network limitations.
Multicast IPTV or DVB-C operators, who want to provide their subscribers with new features like timeshift, pausing, fast forward, rewind, VoD library while having network limitations, are in the best position to start with the hybrid STBs. Customers are automatically using multicast broadcasting when watching live linear TV, and it is only when they use a non-linear function, the box switches to OTT unicast. This prevents the network from overloading while offering extra services.
Besides all the nonlinear features, subscribers can benefit from outstanding recording capabilities. By plugging in a USB flash drive, subscribers can record multicast DVB and IPTV streams if allowed by the broadcaster. For unicast recordings, nPVR is used so subscribers can access their recordings everywhere and the TV operator can save on storage by saving every recording only once.
Another great thing about hybrid STBs is that they can still be functioning even without the Internet connection as long as they are receiving DVB broadcasting which makes them perfect to be used in rural areas with Internet connection interruptions.
The hybrid STBs are running on AOSP (Android Open Source Project) operating system and they do not have direct access to the Google Play store. This means that the IPTV service application is pre-installed by the manufacturer prior to the delivery phase. Subscribers are able to install other applications but they need the APK file of the application and install it manually.
The support of the hybrid box is complex and the firmware and application need to be customized for the exact type of STB. This is why it is possible to use boxes only from a specific supported vendor.
When comparing a hybrid STB with a standard STB running on AndroidTV OS, a few things need to be taken into consideration. With the AndroidTV STB, the subscriber has access to an open ecosystem while having the possibility to download any app from the Google Play store. The TV operator isn’t locked to a specific STB vendor and can provide services for any AndroidTV-certified set-top box to the subscribers. Mind that the AndroidTV STBs support only unicast. From the cost perspective, the hybrid STB is more costly than the standard AndroidTV, and the price difference can reach more than 30% when providing hybrids instead of the Android TV STBs.
An operator must evaluate all these things in order to make the best decision for his type of business. We are more than happy to consult, so feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.