Verizon: ‘In-Home Smart Video Cache’ Could Stream TV, VOD, Netflix, Hulu

Verizon is exploring how it may be able to offer consumers nationwide access to live TV, video-on-demand and content from Netflix and Hulu by storing both multicast and unicast content on devices in subscriber homes, according to a patent application published on Thursday.

The “in-home smart video cache” invention could help the telecom giant use its nationwide LTE network to compete with pay TV distributors such as Cablevision, Cox Communications and Comcast.

“Content provider may include free television broadcast providers (e.g., local broadcast providers, such as NBC, CBS, ABC, and/or Fox), for-pay television broadcast providers (e.g., TNT, ESPN, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, etc.), distributors of motion pictures, and/or Internet-based content providers (e.g., Youtube, Vimeo, Netflix, Hulu, Veoh, etc.) that stream content from web sites and/or permit content to be downloaded (e.g., via progressive download, etc.). Content provider 160 may include on-demand content providers (e.g., video on demand (VOD), pay per view (PPV), etc.),” Verizon states in the patent application.

“In some implementations, the customer premises router may include storage space for the video cache and logic configured to manage the video cache. In other implementations, an add-on device may be connected to the customer premises router which includes storage space for the video cache and/or the logic configured to manage the video cache.”

Boston-based Verizon executives Dongchen Wang, Michael Ruffini and Jack Hao are named as inventors on the patent application, which Verizon filed in August 2014.

Abstract: A method, performed by a computer device, may include determining one or more frequently watched television channels associated with a customer’s account. The method may further include obtaining content associated with the one or more frequently watched television channels via multicast transmission units from a video serving office associated with a television services provider; converting the multicast transmission units into video segments playable by a media playing device; storing the video segments in a cache associated with the computer device; detecting a selection of a television channel associated with the obtained content made via the media playing device; and providing the stored video segments to the media playing device, in response to detecting the selection of the television channel associated with the obtained content.

Patent Application

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Claims: 

1. A method, performed by a computer device, the method comprising: determining, by the computer device, one or more frequently watched television channels associated with customer’s account; obtaining, by the computer device, content associated with the one or more frequently watched television channels via multicast transmission units from a video serving office associated with a television services provider; converting, by the computer device, the multicast transmission units into video segments playable by a media playing device; storing, by the computer device, the video segments in a cache associated with the computer device; detecting, by the computer device, a selection of a television channel associated with the obtained content made via the media playing device; and providing, by the computer device, the stored video segments to the media playing device, in response to detecting the selection of the television channel associated with the obtained content.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the video segments stored in the cache for the television channel include at least the past three days of content for the television channel, the method further comprising: receiving, from the media playing device, a request to view content for the television channel that was broadcast at a particular time during the past three days; and providing the requested content for the television channel to the media playing device.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving, from the media playing device, a trick mode command, wherein the trick mode command includes at least one of a pause command, a play command, a rewind command, or a fast forward command; and executing the trick mode command with respect to the stored video segments provided to the media playing device.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the video segments stored in the cache are encrypted, and wherein the media playing device performs authentication and decryption on the video segments to play the video segments.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein determining the one or more frequently watched television channels associated with the customer’s account includes: receiving, from a user associated with the customer’s account, a selection of the one or more frequently watched television channels as channels to store in the cache.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising: detecting a faulty or missing video segments among the stored video segments; requesting a replacement video segment from the video serving office; and storing the replacement video segment in the cache.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving updated content associated with the television channel via multicast transmission units from the video serving office; converting the multicast transmission units associated with the updated content into updated video segments; and storing the updated video segments in the cache.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the transmission units include User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Maximum Transmission Units (MTUs), and wherein the video segments include at least one of: Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (DASH) video segments; or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Live Streaming (HLS) video segments.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the media playing device includes: a set-top box; a smart television; a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) dongle media device; a game console; or a mobile communication device.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer device includes a broadband router and wherein the cache includes at least one terabyte of storage capacity.

11. A computer device comprising: logic configured to: determine one or more frequently watched television channels associated with a customer’s account; obtain content associated with the one or more frequently watched television channels via multicast transmission units from a video serving office associated with a provider of television services; convert the multicast transmission units into video segments playable by a media playing device; store the video segments in a cache associated with the computer device; detect a selection of a television channel associated with the obtained content made via the media playing device; and provide the stored video segments to the media playing device, in response to detecting the selection of the television channel associated with the obtained content.

12. The computer device of claim 11, wherein the video segments stored in the cache for the television channel include at least three days of content for the television channel, and wherein the logic is further configured to: receive, from the media playing device, a request to view content for the television channel that was broadcast at a particular time during the three days; and provide the requested content for the television channel to the media playing device.

13. The computer device of claim 11, wherein the logic is further configured to: receive, from the media playing device, a trick mode command, wherein the trick mode command includes at least one of a pause command, a play command, a rewind command, or a fast forward command; and execute the trick mode command with respect to the stored video segments provided to the media playing device.

14. The computer device of claim 11, wherein the logic is further configured to: receive updated content associated with the television channel via multicast transmission units from the video serving office; convert the multicast transmission units associated with the updated content into updated video segments; and store the updated video segments in the cache.

15. The computer device of claim 11, wherein the multicast transmission units include User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Maximum Transmission Units (MTUs), and wherein the video segments include at least one of: Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (DASH) video segments; or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Live Streaming (HLS) video segments.

16. The computer device of claim 11, wherein the logic is further configured to: determine that the customer’s account is associated with a channel surfing habit; and request channel snapshots via a multicast join request, in response to determining that the customer’s account is associated with a channel surfing habit.

17. A method performed by a computer device, the method comprising: selecting, by the computer device, content associated with a television channel; obtaining, by the computer device, video segments associated with the selected content; converting, by the computer device, the selected video segments into transmission units; identifying, by the computer device, a plurality of customer premises to which the television channel should be provided based on received multicast requests; and sending, by the computer device, the transmission units via multicast to the plurality of customer premises for cache storage.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein sending the transmission units via multicast to the plurality of customer premises for cache storage includes: determining an off-peak time with respect to network bandwidth for the plurality of customer premises, wherein the off-peak time is prior to a scheduled broadcast time for the content; and sending the transmission units via multicast during the off-peak time, wherein the content is protected from being played from the cache storage prior to the scheduled broadcast time.

19. The method of claim 16, further comprising: sending a plurality of snapshots for television channels via multicast to at least a subset of the plurality of customer premises for cache storage, wherein a particular snapshot includes five seconds or less of content for a particular television channel.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising: determining that a particular customer premises is associated with a channel surfing habit; and including the particular customer premises in the at least a subset of the plurality of customer premises based on determining that the particular customer premises is associated with the channel surfing habit.