[opendtv] Why HANA, why now?

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2006 17:55:43 -0400

I'm getting cynical in my old age. Seems to me that HANA is just another
in a long series of "this digital interface is the answer to all our
interoperability problems," only to be obsoleted very soon by another
incompatibile digital interface. DVI, DVI/HDCP, HDMI, HDMI 1.3, and news
items suggesting that the whole HDMI approach is soon to become
obsolete, are the obvious examples of the last very few years.

So, HANA bets on IEEE 1394. But wait. That in turn depends on internal
MPEG decoders in each device, which will be MPEG-2 (H.262) for some time
to come. And it's not wireless. Hmmm. How long will HANA remain
compatible? Only until wireless PANs and/or H.264 or some other codec
start becoming popular. Only as long as DTCP isn't hacked. Only as long
as an equipment vendor doesn't come up with a feature that HANA does not


"HANA leaves it up to consumers to decide where they want to be
entertained. By fostering collaboration, HANA allows each industry to
play to its strengths, improving the consumer's experience and their
desire to buy more products, services and content."

But wait. There is no desired collaboration among the various
industries. All I see in this is an attempt to increase the customers'
need "to buy more products, services and content." That's need, not
desire, as stated in the quote above.

The only interfaces that have been able to make use of all the quality
improvements so far, in a truly compatible manner, have been the analog
video component and the analog baseband audio interfaces. And this
includes the most recent 1080p displays, according to The Perfect
Vision. Digital interfaces become obsolete, the analog seem uncannily
capable of remaining useful. (Oh, I forgot, those clever analog
interfaces can now be disabled by the disc. I'm sure somehow, that is
for the consumer's benefit too.)

What has saved us from instant obsolescence in the past? It has been
that these supposed improvements arrive and are obsoleted so fast that
not a single one of them has ever been able to establish itself.
Therefore, manufacturers have had to retain some truly compatible ways
to make all the boxes play together, or they would simply lose their
customers. So perhaps HANA will become available, but only as yet
another spigot in boxes that have an ever increasing assortment of
optional interfaces.

Now, I wonder. Does this increasing assortment of jacks make the average
consumer think the HANA box is simpler?



October 04, 2006

Why HANA, why now?

Hana's goal is to create standards-based solutions to enhance the
consumer HD entertainment experience

By Bill Rose, President of WJR Consulting

The High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance, is the first
cross-industry collaboration to address the end-to-end needs of
connected, high definition, home entertainment products and services.
What makes HANA unique is its list of founding members, which includes
leading companies from the four industries most impacted by the HD
revolution " Content Providers, Consumer Electronics, Service Providers
and Information Technology " and their focus on the consumer experience.

HANA's goal is to create standards-based solutions to facilitate
commercial deployment of connected products and services that will
enhance the consumer HD entertainment experience. To achieve this, HANA
will work with its member companies and organizations such as the
Consumer Electronics Association, the 1394 Trade Association, CableLabs,
the Motion Picture Association of America and others to ensure that its
solutions meet the needs of all stakeholders, including consumers. Those
needs include ensuring HANA products will stream high definition A/V
content and related services, simply and reliably throughout the home
without compromising the rights of content owners or those of the


Approximately 85% of U.S. households receive their TV programming
services from cable or satellite roadcasters DTV sales are projected to
grow from 17 million units in 2004 to 77 million units in 2008
Entertainment is rapidly moving toward on-demand (cable, satellite,
IPTV) and time-shift viewing (personal video recorders), and away from
fixed-schedule broadcasts IEEE 1394 is the only digital interface that
has an FCC mandate to be included in Digital Cable Set Top Boxes
Consumers are confronted with an increasingly confusing set of
connections, remote controls and set-up options as new digital products
and services are introduced. Increasingly, content is being delivered to
the home over broadband connections that today terminate at the PC;
however, most consumers do not want to watch movies and TV programs or
listen to music on their PCs.

So what does this have to do with home networking? And more importantly,
what is HANA doing to create and deploy home networks while simplifying
the consumer experience? To answer these questions requires an
understanding of the business models of the four industries that HANA

Consumer Electronics:
Profits generally come from higher-end products including HDTV and
sources of HD content.

Service Providers:
Profits come from billable services. Hardware (STBs, satellite
receivers, modems) is simply a means to an end, providing access to
those services their customers have agreed to pay for.

Content Owners:
The value of content is related to its availability. Increased
availability means increased profits, as long as strong copy protections
and DRM mechanisms are in place.

Information Technology:
Profits come from a combination of hardware, software and services, with
the focus on the PC and its connection to the Internet. However, IT's
strength, which in large part comes from the PC being an open platform,
complicates its participation in delivering high-value content and
services. Content owners are concerned that the PC and the Internet may
be used to circumvent content protections. On the surface these
industries appear to be at odds. Service providers only need a monitor
to deliver their services as long as there is an STB in the loop; yet,
DTV manufacturers will see little profit if they only sell monitors.
Content owners want to reach more consumers; but, fear the PC and home
networks. And IT companies want to move into the living room, which is
seen as competitive to CE and Service Providers, and potentially leading
to the 'Napsterization' of video entertainment.

HANA's members see a different picture. The reality is that the four
business models are very complementary. CE companies make money selling
hardware that stores, plays back and displays content delivered by
service providers. Service providers want to reduce their capital
expenditures, eliminating the need for a set top box (STB) at every TV.
Additionally, DTV manufacturers compete with each other based on the
quality of their picture which consumers can compare in retail stores
and in online product reviews. STBs on the other hand are driven
primarily by cost. Now that Congress has mandated that every DTV include
a digital tuner (and therefore an MPEG decoder), consumers will enjoy a
higher quality picture from MPEG sources such as the STBs 1394 port. The
STB (or cable card) becomes simply a toll booth for MPEG packets. All of
this requires networks and network services, storage and software, which
are the domain of IT companies. The PC is still an important part of the
picture. But instead of being the point where broadband networks
terminate, it becomes just one more connected device.

HANA leaves it up to consumers to decide where they want to be
entertained. By fostering collaboration, HANA allows each industry to
play to its strengths, improving the consumer's experience and their
desire to buy more products, services and content.

The Home Network

The home network connects more than just devices; it connects
industries. Unfortunately, the home network with its promise of seamless
access to libraries of content and exciting new services has not yet
arrived. The problem is not a lack of suitable technologies to achieve
the vision; it is an issue of interoperability. Different companies and
industries use different network technologies, protocols, media formats,
etc. It takes time to work through the differences. More importantly, it
takes companies from the impacted industries to come together and find a
solution that will benefit everyone.

There is a second problem that is perhaps even more difficult to solve.
It is the consumer, or more correctly, the consumer's habits and
expectations. The mass-market customer takes time to become comfortable
with major shifts in technology and user interfaces. They prefer smaller
steps that build on what they are already comfortable with.

Consumers today see their A/V products as a series of connected devices,
each performing a relatively simple and easily understood task. Each
device is operated directly using an IR remote control. More complicated
features are accessed through menus displayed on the TV and navigated
using the same dedicated remote control. It is far from perfect but
consumers are used to the idiosyncrasies.

There are two problems with the current paradigm that cause the vast
majority of complaints consumers have with their entertainment products:
confusing connections (component, composite, S-Video, DVI, and the
resulting problem of selecting AV1, AV2, channel 3 or 4, etc.) and too
many remote controls or 'universal' remotes that are not 'universal' and
that must be programmed.

The challenge for any networking solution is to not only meet the
business needs of the four industries, but to deliver simple and
compelling solutions to the consumer. Ideally, any solution will also
solve these problems without dramatically altering the user interface so
the consumer does not have to relearn everything. Unfortunately, the
complex middleware solutions being developed by some companies add a
great deal of complexity (cost) to their products and may not satisfy
the security needs of the content owners.

The Solution: HANA

HANA members envision a simpler transition to networked A/V products for
the product developer, the service provider and the consumer.

Connector confusion is eliminated through the use of 1394 or FireWire.
Any device can be connected to any other device with a single cable,
common across all HANA devices. The user interface (UI) is then
delivered over the 1394 interface using well-established Web
technologies " browsers and Web servers. A connected device is selected
using the DTVs own remote control, whereupon that device serves up its
own UI for display on the DTV. Devices do not need to have custom
software drivers installed to interoperate. If they are HANA devices,
they are guaranteed to interoperate. By taking these two simple steps,
many of the problems with the current non-networked connection and
control paradigm are solved, without changing the user interface model.
Consumers continue to control their devices as they do now, except that
one cable and one remote control do it all, without software updates, or
having to enter IR codes on a universal remote control.

Using HANA enabled products, the consumer will see a top-level menu on
the DTV that shows all of the devices that are connected. This top-level
menu can be defined by the DTV or by a HANA compliant STB, satellite
receiver or IPTV STB. Consumers will be able to select any product and
control it using either the DTV's remote control or that of the service
provider. The choice is left to the consumer. No more switching between
multiple remotes. With a simple click on the primary remote control, any
connected device will display its own user interface on any connected


For service providers, HANA's solutions allow them to maintain control
of their content, billing and the consumer viewing experience. It
provides a low cost method for the STB and satellite receiver to
interoperate with the CE products consumers will want to connect. In
fact, using a cable card enabled DTV, the service provider does not even
need to provide an STB. The cable card will provide the interface to the
services and simply forward the digital content (MPEG2, MPEG4, program
guide, etc.) to the DTV for decoding and display, reducing capital
expenditures and the need for a truck roll. Also, since the FCC now
requires that all DTVs incorporate tuners going forward, every DTV will
have an MPEG decoder.

For the content owner, basic security is provided through the use of
1394 and the already approved Digital Transmission Content Protection
(DTCP) license. HANA is also working on advanced solutions with
interoperable Digital Rights Management and copyright detection that
will create a secure home network where consumers can have increased
access to and more flexible use of premium content. Additionally, HANA
is working on a solution for localization (footnote 1) to ensure that
protected content cannot be sent back out over the Internet unless
allowed under the terms agreed to by the content owner and the consumer
and/or service provider.

CE manufacturers and IT companies will be able to deliver exciting new
products and features to their customers, while simultaneously
simplifying the user experience, rather than further complicating it as
has too often been the case when new technologies are introduced. Just
as importantly, a product that ships today will not become obsolete
every time something new is introduced. New products will be required to
adhere to the baseline standard guaranteeing interoperability with
existing products.

Finally, the consumer can easily:

Connect all products using one type of cable

View all of the HANA as well as all legacy 1394 products on any
connected DTV display

Select a product to operate, and control or view the status of that

And do it all with one remote control

Consumers get to operate their products the way they are already
accustomed to, yet the biggest problems associated with today's products
" complex connection and setup, and multiple remote controls " are
eliminated. With HANA, everyone wins.


(1) Localization is a means to ensure two devices are local to each
other. Secure handshakes must take place within a predetermined period
of time to ensure the devices are not connected via the Internet.

About the author

Bill Rose, president of WJR Consulting, is also the chairman of the
Consumer Electronics Association's R7 Home-Networking Committee. He also
participates in HANA's technical and business working groups and task
groups. He can be reached at admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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