If you’ve always wondered how your set-top accesses firmware updates, or if you’re a cable operator looking for a more efficient way to do code downloads, this is the post for you. Motorola’s Vic Melis recently explained how to use an offline loader to do bulk code downloads (think guide updates), and I’ve posted his words here. It’s a bit of a sales pitch, but if you just want the technical explanation, there’s plenty of that too. If you happen to remember all the way back to The Cable Show, this is an in-depth look at the OLL1000 that was shown there. Thanks, Vic!
Vic Melis on the offline loader:
Cable operators that pre-load code on set-top boxes before deployment to the field are finding a new way to cut their warehouse costs. Motorola’s new offline loader, the Motorola OLL1000, is helping large and small cable operators realize significant savings in time and cost through bulk code downloads to set-tops. Cable and Telco operators are finding that the OLL1000 typically pays for itself in less than two months.
There are several reasons.
Reason #1: Instead of having to target specific boxes with their IP addresses for code download, the OLL can broadcast the same code objects to all connected boxes. The OLL1000 can download the same code objects to a mixed population of core and advanced set-tops simultaneously. There is no need to connect only one specific box types at a time. The OLL can also handle a mix of RF return and Ethernet return boxes and even non-Motorola boxes, as long as they are DCII compliant.
Reason #2: It’s fast! Since you have a “dedicated pipe” you have the entire bandwidth available just for downloading code. The OLL supports code download at high bit rates. On a live cable plant you would have to share the available OOB (out-of-band) bandwidth with interactive applications. Translation: You can download 5MB of code objects in less than 5 minutes, compared to typical 20-40 minutes on a live production system, depending on bandwidth.
Reason #3: Code prep is easier! User-friendly GUI and menus simplify the process for creating, preparing, staging and downloading code object packages to set-tops. You can easily create code object “packages” of 20 different code objects using a supplied template folder. You can pre-load set-tops a day or two in advance in anticipation of planned code upgrades to support field installations on the day of code upgrade. You can easily change packages for download to the next group of set-tops.
Reason #4: It’s secure. Since it is an offline solution, there is no risk to inadvertent download to boxes on a live plant. The offline loader operates on Linux for better security, development environment, and serviceability.