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Six Questions: Cedric Fernandes — CTO of MobiTV

28 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Cedric Fernandes

TV Everywhere is one of the key initiatives of the home entertainment industry, and Emeryville, Calif.-based MobiTV is trying to be at the center of everyone’s second-screen solution.

T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, U.S. Cellular, ABC, CBS, Fox News, ESPN, NBC, MTV, Discovery Channel, TLC and The Weather Channel are just a few of the clients that have employed MobiTV’s cloud-based end-to-end mobile media solutions.

Cedric Fernandes, CTO of MobiTV, chatted with Home Media Magazine about the overall state of the second-screen business, content security concerns and how companies are profiting from multiscreen delivery.

■ How far is MobiTV’s technology reach?

Fernandes: MobiTV’s heritage is in mobile, and when we combined this heritage with a focus on creating the most robust technology platform available for delivery of true TV Everywhere, we created an offering that service providers are finding increasingly valuable to help them deliver video to multiple screens both in and out of the home.

As the first to launch streaming live media to mobile devices in 2003, we’ve since extended our media delivery technology and underlying platform to now encompass a variety of platforms. We’re now helping the tier-one U.S. carriers overcome streaming challenges to deliver turnkey mobile TV solutions to their customers. We continue to focus on helping wireless, IPTV and DSL broadband operators enter into the home and offer true TV everywhere solutions with our white-label HDMI dongle, MobiTV Connect.

Another area of focus for us, and one we expect to become increasingly important, is content personalization. MobiTV has engineered technologies and integrated platforms that support multiple user profiles, making it easier to identify individual users and provide personalized content recommendations that take into account such factors such as location, network bandwidth and device. MobiTV’s innovative approach enables the most appropriate content and ad interactions to be delivered to the right user on the right device, in the right manner.

As second screen has cemented itself in the living room, we have delivered an experience that is personalized and nonintrusive. Users are able to peruse and interact with what they’re seeing on the TV with their personal mobile device. Whether it’s searching real-time Twitter trends to find content or sharing and shopping with friends, the second-screen experience can only be successful if it’s user-centric.

Since having solved the toughest part of multiscreen — delivering across platforms, networks and operating systems — early on, MobiTV is helping wireless operators and broadband/DSL providers utilize their infrastructure to bring the multiscreen experience to the living room. Some of our innovative work around HEVC and LTE broadcast will help usher in a more efficient, better-optimized delivery into and out of the home.

■ What are the main challenges in delivering live content to mobile?

Fernandes: The media landscape is extremely dynamic. Shifting content and policy rights limit how, when and where content can be consumed, and vary by geography, licensing and ownership, and format (whether content is broadcast live, streamed to a device or recorded). This is just one factor that makes delivering video content to non-traditional devices (mobile phones and tablets) over wireless networks an increasingly complex and expensive proposition. Other roadblocks associated with delivery of live content to mobile devices include (but are not limited to) fragmented formats, delivery protocols and encoding challenges.

A key word for success in the live delivery scenario is “scalable.” It may be one hurdle cleared to navigate content rights, but an equally formidable challenge comes with scaling to meet high-concurrency live events where anything less than 99.99 uptime will not suffice. However, end-to-end managed service providers, such as MobiTV, make scalable and network-efficient distribution of encrypted content across multiple networks possible.

We have also worked hard to reduce the video startup time and channel change time.

Lastly, policy control based on devices and networks is equally important. We make sure network utilization is top of mind and have policies that allow us to control the top-level bit rates and resolutions delivered over certain networks and to specific device types.

■ How does MobiTV go about protecting content?

Fernandes: MobiTV protects access to the application services as well as the content. With MobiTV, content is protected across devices and profiles within the entire connected media ecosystem, as MobiTV authenticates the user and not the device. This user-centric approach is a key differentiator, as it allows for stronger controls with limited licenses provided to users, and client devices are also restricted from unprotected content.

MobiTV’s multiscreen platform also supports multiple user profiles per billing account. This gives us the flexibility of personalizing content to individuals within a household without compromising on security.

MobiTV’s unique multi-digital rights management (DRM) approach uses MobiTV’s proprietary DRM solution as well as Widevine and PlayReady where necessary. This provides strong protection over content usage rights for live video, streamed video-on-demand, and recorded and downloaded media — supporting a multi-level security model that combines service authentication and authorization with content encryption and license management. MobiTV’s DRM solution provides extremely valuable protection, distribution, monitoring, rights renewal and content metering. Additionally, the DRM solution itself is further protected via tamper-resistant software from Arxan Technologies.

■ What advances is MobiTV making in the VOD space?

Fernandes: MobiTV has introduced innovative approaches to maximizing VOD via user profiles that provide personalized recommendations that take into account a consumer’s location and current device, and with unique advertising integration capabilities that enable greater contextual and second-screen interactions in multi-user environments, generating additional revenue for service providers.

■ What devices or services have provided the most challenges for MobiTV, and in what ways?

Fernandes: When MobiTV first started, we dealt with fragmentation in the mobile space. Today, we deal with fragmentation across device types — from smart TVs to set-top boxes to mobile phones and tablets. Developing cost-effective application services that span across all these device types can be a challenge for many in the multiscreen world.

■ What other TV Everywhere products or services is MobiTV is impressed with and why?

Fernandes: The TV Everywhere space is crowded but supported by many vendors who specialize in certain areas like live encoders, authentication services, storage solutions, NetDVR vendors and CDN providers. Companies such as Harmonic, Elemental and Media Excel have made tremendous progress in reducing the costs of encoding live content for multiscreen delivery. Similarly, companies like Adobe have created an aggregation service for authentication against cable systems, and companies such as Broadpeak are providing creative CDN solutions for efficient media delivery. These companies, in conjunction with MobiTV, have made it possible to quickly deploy and cost-effectively operate TV Everywhere services.

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