1). EPG / ESG - Middleware and STB Overview
§ The content is selected by means of an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) that resides on a Set Top Box (STB) in IPTV, which also acts as the decoder for the video streams to permit display on conventional TVs with analog inputs.
§ Users request content to be viewed using an IPTV remote control and on-screen menus in the Electronic Program Guide (EPG).
§ Though completely different from the on-screen program scroll on the TV Guide Channel in the United States, the technology is based upon broadcasting data to an application usually residing within middleware in a set-top box which connects to the television set and enables the application to be displayed.
§ Middleware is the software system used for delivering an IPTV service to the consumer.
§ IPTV middleware is the software that manages the interaction of network elements from the headend through to the STB.
§ There may be a server portion to the middleware in the headend, or at a central network point, and a client portion that resides in the STB.
§ The middleware allows a customer to select from a list of available video programs.
§ Providers include Microsoft, Widevine, Myrio/Siemens, Minerva, and Orca, among others.
2). Middleware Functions include
§ Middleware Functions include subscriber control, service definition, content control, and system control.
§ IPTV middleware supports the basic operation of the IPTV system with functions such as subscriber authentication, channel selection, an electronic program guide, and VoD services.
§ The middleware is typically a client/server architecture where the client resides on the STB.
§ The middleware controls the user experience and, because of this, it defines how the consumer interacts with the service. For example, the user interface and services available to a consumer, such as electronic program guide (EPG), VoD, or pay-per-view (PPV) service, are all made available and controlled through the middleware.
3). Typical Middleware capabilities include
3.1). User Management:
§ The middleware provides the dynamic User Interface (UI) to the STB.
§ It also keeps track of the STB security ID, as well as maintaining the STB usage log for billing and security purposes.
§ It provides the Web-based STB remote control capability.
§ The STBs can also be remotely upgraded.
§ The UI of the STB may be customized and assigned to individual users or multiple user groups.
3.2). Content Management:
§ The software provides flexible control over that content.
§ For example, one can apply different costs to different content types, decide on the usage pattern, or create different packages for different content groups.
3.3). Infrastructure Management:
§ The middleware allows the administrator to configure server roles and functions and control input and output parameters.
§ The middleware provides manual and automated tools for load balancing.
§ It can monitor the availability of all servers and can activate a failover mechanism in the event of finding a component failure.
4). IPTV middleware solutions can be categorized into three parts:
1. Middleware that provides a broad range of features and interfaces into multiple network elements, multiple customer facing elements, provides customer management and monitoring as well as interfaces into back office systems. Middleware in this category can be deployed on a client/server basis and/or integrated into network components (including CPE) and the applications provide management and interface to both northbound SP provider network components and servers and southbound into set-top boxes and customer equipment. Additionally this category of middleware usually provides APIs into the SP’s OSS/BSS.
2. Middleware that is provided in conjunction with a specific network element and/ or functionality. This category of middleware is usually housed within the equipment itself such as a headend, content server, application server, STB etc.
3. Middleware that is focused on back-office functionalities and interfaces. This type of middleware is separate from OSS/BSS but has been developed specifically to provide interfaces between customer edge equipment and SP OSS/BSS.
5). A number of existing interactive IPTV middleware standards:
§ MHP - Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) to support IPTV it is first helpful to understand how MHP operates. The following sections give a brief overview of MHP when used in an end-to-end DVB digital TV system.
§ GEM - Globally Executable MHP (GEM) specification was developed. Thework involved in developing the standard was carried out by the DVB organization. From a technical perspective GEM is based on MHP middleware technology and defines a set of mandatory core features.
§ OCAP - OpenCable Applications Platform is the interactive TV middleware standard of choice for network service providers based in
§ ACAP - (Advanced Common Application Platform) is an open interactive TV middleware standard used by digital set-top boxes that receive signals from
§ ARIB B23 - the Japanese TV standards body, has also adopted GEM as a basis for Japanese iTV standards.