Marko Estacio: ‘I could not predict that the remote control will disappear, but it will probably be forgotten’

 As part of the 2019 edition of the Nextv Series Colombia event, the leading conference developed last June 27th at the JW Marriott Hotel in Bogota, Marko Estacio, Customer Success Manager at Arris, was the protagonist of a one on one session titled ‘The future of set-top box, its role in the smart home’. The main topics analyzed were his vision of the trends that will reach households in the coming years, STBs evolution, the role of remote control against digital assistants and the operators obstacles and opportunities in this context to develop integration experiences.

When asked about trends that will reach households in the coming years, Estacio said that this year the first products with the Wi-Fi 6 standard are starting to come into the market, which, according to the executive, will work much better in very dense environments, and highlighted that it will have a better scope, will allow to save energy and incorporated technologies that will allow the connection of IOT devices as its main features. Estacio said the new standard is necessary because it will support ‘multiple 4K streams in homes, the Cloud Gaming application – which is believed to be very popular in the coming years – and the possibility of integrating more digital assistants and smart devices inside the house’. 

Later, Estacio expressed himself on the evolution of STBs, and said that ‘although we have been talking for years that the STB is going to disappear, or that other devices can take their functions, it has been able to add different content experiences  for the consumer and offer a safe environment for the integration of content providers video products’. This way, he said that, referring to the use of the STB, ‘consumers has become used to having these devices in multiple rooms within their homes, so, from our point of view, if we put this together with the use of connected devices inside the house, the explosion of applications available today, or the use of smart speakers to communicate with an assistant, these functions can be integrated into the STB hardware and, by its preferential location inside the house, the STB can reach several functions’.

Thinking about operators, Estacio said that they face ‘certain obstacles, in the sense that the way in which we traditionally hire x-play services, is usually a single service; device; and many times it is a support group within the operator that watches that device. And, on the other hand, as consumers, we are living in homes where there are more and more devices and experiences that require integration’. In this context, the executive said that ‘more than obstacles, there is an opportunity to start working on these devices, relying on this technology, and offer new services that basically integrate multiple technologies and devices, working in coordination’. As an example, the executive cited that, in video services terms, this is translated into making the STB a platform for multiple applications to run’.

‘I could not predict that the remote control will disappear, but it will probably be forgotten, and it is mainly because the digital assistants are taking a lot of strength, and how they have been developed is very interesting’, said the executive about the role of remote control in front of the new digital assistants. ‘Today, many operators are wondering if they have to develop their own digital assistant’, he added, and, about that, said that ‘a digital assistant is composed of three things: the ability to understanding spoken language, understanding the language and the skills or actions that the assistant will do with other integrated devices’. This way, Estacio said that ‘operators can develop skills, keep them in their private cloud and leverage all that artificial intelligence that already exists’.

‘There is definitely going to be an evolution of STBs to what, for example, we call ‘smart media devices’. For an average consumer, the integration of devices is complex, then there is going to be a consolidation, and we see an incredible opportunity for the operators, who must be avant-garde because they can develop this integration for the final consumer’, he said. Finally, he added that the opportunities are ‘to be able to take advantage of these new experiences, where, rather than being a specific services provider, the operator must be a provider of experiences that are delivered with broadband applications, which include multiple devices within the house operating harmoniously, and leveraged in technologies such as artificial intelligence and digital assistants, understanding the way to bring new technology to the subscribers homes has no need  to be with the leasing model of the STB. I think there is a paradigm change in the way services and devices are delivered in homes’, he concluded.