Home networking is still in its infancy, but small steps are leading to a huge shift in the consumption of entertainment, writes Julian Clover
The delights of home networking…I can receive up to seven wi-fi networks around the house, but am constantly required to move the channel of my own network to avoid interference from the latest addition to the cluttered ether. I have difficulty in receiving a wireless video signal from the next room, but a neighbour’s device comes in as clear as a bell.
Last week at the C-COR Global IP summit, Eric Lennon, CTO, UPC Broadband described a familiar problem. “In Austria people live in apartment blocks with very thick walls and wireless just doesn’t like that.” He said that UPC had changed its original view that a single solution to wireless networking could be applied to the entire UPC footprint.
Lennon quoted figures that show some 80% of broadband users now have wireless networking. The traditionally male, technically savvy user would typically install a device and manufacturers were looking to make it simple – presumably not the well-known manufacturer of my now replaced router. Lennon wants to make the wireless router mass market. Not a difficult goal if the profile of the UPC customer matches that 80% figure. BT is currently using its Home Hub product as a means to persuade existing customers to extend their contract period. As the cost of these devices comes down it becomes a reasonable hook for operators to use more sophisticated routers to reel in new customers.
It’s a small step for UPC and the other operators that have home networking in mind. But it might also extend to out of home networking.
At the NDS summer party this week, CEO Dr Abe Peled told me of plans by the technology company to allow the consumer to be able to be take their subscriptions overseas, subject to the clearance of rights. The Slingbox has pioneered the concept of place shifting, but this simplifies the process, a simple plug-in device would identify the user and their entitlements.
This brings us round to the concept of the operator being able to service all of the consumer’s telecommunications and entertainment needs. We have only just arrived at quad-play; now we are talking total-play.