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Breaking Open the Set Top Box

Banks, David; Wiley, Anthony; Catania, Nicolas; Coles, Alistair; Smith, Duncan; Baynham, Simon; Deliot, Eric; Chidzey, Rod

HPL-97-139

Keyword(s): gateway; multi-service; home; network; IEEE1394; web; MPEG

Abstract: In this paper we describe the work being done in the area of home networks and gateways. This work is based in the idea of breaking open the set top box by physically separating the access network specific functions (for example demodulation and error correction) from the application specific functions (for example MPEG-2 video decoding). The access network specific functions reside in an access network gateway that can be shared by many end user devices. The first section of the paper presents the philosophy behind this approach. The end user devices and the access network gateways must be interconnected by a high bandwidth network which can offer a bounded delay service for delay sensitive traffic. We are advocating the use if IEEE1394 for this network, and the next section of the paper gives a brief introduction to this technology. We then describe a prototype Digital Video Broadcasting Satellite (DVB-S) compliant gateway that we have built. This gateway could be used, for example, by a PC for receiving a data service or by a digital TV for receiving an MPEG-2 video service. When combined with a suitable return path, the prototype could also be used to deliver bi-directional interactive services. A control architecture is then presented which uses a PC application to provide a web based user interface to the system. Finally, we provide details of our work on extending the reach of IEEE1394 and its standardization status.

12 Pages

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