Summary:

Some operators are already introducing apps for the iPad that allow subscribers to watch live TV in the home. Motorola wants to make it even easier to do so, with a media streaming device that transcodes live TV into IP streams in the home.

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Motorola has announced a new device that will let consumers stream live TV to IP-enabled devices like the iPad or other connected devices around the home. The Motorola Televation works by plugging into the cable coax and a customer’s Wi-Fi router and will automatically stream TV content to devices connected to a home network.

Already, operators like Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have introduced applications on the iPad that allow for in-home streaming of live TV stations. And while those applications make sure that the viewer is tuning in on a device connected to the home network, there are still video streams being fed over the ISPs’ broadband infrastructure.

The Motorola Televation product seeks to alleviate some of the strain by taking the heavy lifting out of video delivery in the broadband network and moving it to the home Wi-Fi network instead. It also clears up some of the messy rights issues related to streaming content within the home; since the Televation product connects to the same linear video feeds as an operator’s set-top box, Motorola argues that operators won’t have to worry about being sued over live TV streamed over a broadband network.

The box transcodes video streams on the fly from the original MPEG-2 format to IP-deliverable MPEG-4 streams, matching up the resolution, bit rate and quality of those streams with the devices that are trying to access them. It also includes a bit of proprietary digital rights management (DRM) technology to ensure that the streams are secure while being distributed to other devices. The core technology to offer streaming video through a TV tuner isn’t exactly new, but Motorola’s offering has a 1 GHz tuner and CableCard functionality.

For iPad owners, that means that they will be able to access live video over the Wi-Fi network from anywhere within the home. But the Televation product could have other benefits to operators: Because its streams can be accessed by IP-connected TVs, it could potentially alleviate the need for a set-top box in every room with a television.

Reducing the need for set-top boxes could lower capex for operators as they bring new customers online or as those customers connect new TVs to digital signals. Since faulty set-top boxes are frequently the reason for customer support calls, replacing them with an IP video signal could also improve customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, the Motorola Televation won’t be available directly to consumers but will be marketed at the operators themselves to deploy to their customers. Those service providers will also make their own branded applications for iPad and Android, and Motorola is providing customers with software development kits (SDKs) to do so.

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