When we discussed the launch of Intel's Atom-based SoC CE4100, codenamed Sodaville, we remarked that the company's vision of "smart" televisions had yet to materialize—the same "Widget Channel" and Yahoo partnership that had marked the launch of Intel's CE3100 back in 2008 were still hanging around in 2009. At least one company, however, is planning to take a shot at turning Intel's concept devices into reality. Yesterday, Amino Communications announced it intended to build IPTV settop boxes around the new Intel architecture.
According to Amino CTO Dominique Le Foll, "The CE4100 is a powerful media processor that is designed specifically for home entertainment and enables a greatly enhanced consumer experience. As one of the first IPTV solutions providers to demonstrate its capabilities, we are very encouraged by the response from customers and partners, particularly to its OTT capabilities."
The acronym OTT stands for "over the top," and applies to a range of content an IPTV provider considers "premium." Since the term "IPTV" itself is still evolving, the question of what, precisely, OTT is or isn't is going to be both arbitrary and content-deliverer dependent. In theory, OTT services offer a sort of walled garden, in which customers receive preselected content or capabilities, rather than having unrestricted access to the "full" Internet.
Amino characterises this new, as-yet-unnamed product as a further strengthening of its ties to Intel and believes that it's positioned itself at the head of an anticipated surge in IPTV products. "With new Internet-based services and applications coming to TV, there is a need for a new generation of set-top boxes," said Keith Wehmeyer, General Manager, IPTV, Digital Home Group, Intel Corporation. "Amino recognizes the requirements for processor performance and high-quality video and graphics, and is designing a set top box based on Intel’s CE4100 media processor to provide a premium entertainment experience to consumers."
As enticing a profit center as OTT services might be, it's fair to ask where all the necessary broadband is going to come from. AT&T has already admitted that its cellular data network is buckling
under the iPhone's demand, and while there's far more bandwidth available via wired connections, it's scarcely a resource that's infinitely available. AT&T is the largest IPTV provider in the US—how it handles its own bandwidth issues and rollout may serve as a roadmap (or a warning) to other US service providers