Sunday, October 31, 2010

Intel's hybrid STB customers racing for a pre-Holiday launch

Google TV is out on a Logitech box and a Sony TV and Blu-ray player. In an information alert, In-Stat's Gerry Kaufhold mentions video quality issues (frame rate, no support for WMV or DTS, limited storage) and content blocking (ABC, NBC, CBS, others).

Content seems to be the least of their problems. The other issues are much deeper, could involve memory leaks, and are probably behind the ongoing delays that have plagued both Boxee (slated for November 10) and Yuixx (which is aiming for a pre-Holiday launch as well) - and most other Intel customers.

The race is still on, especially among the dozen (?) or so Intel customers, to get a hybrid STB out onto the market beyond a prototype or demonstration. And it's not just the software, it's DRM, content, distribution and a bunch of licenses (Dolby, DTS, etc.) as well that need to be taken care of.

Check out our coverage of OTT. Free commentaries (updated April 20, 2011):

Connected TV brings new competitor for operators: CE manufacturers (April 20, 2011)

Hollywood struggles with broadcast rights and the iPad (April 4, 2011)

Amazon takes Lovefilm out of DECE, launches own cloud service (March 29, 2011)

Entertain Sat: Deutsche Telekom and SES Astra's clever cooperation (March 1, 2011)

Broadcast TV resurgent, but OTT players add a little extra (February 25, 2011)

Vodafone Germany's hybrid STB offers little to distinguish it (February 17, 2011)

Ziggo feels the heat and looks to spark up connected TV (February 3, 2011)

Connected TV puts network operators to work (January 21, 2011)

Microsoft, Google, Nokia Siemens trail the Connected TV market at CES

French govt should ask why Sony hasn't contributed to the cost of the electricity network

Google TV frustrated by Hollywood

TiVo transforms iPad into 2nd screen with a remote control

Google TV takes on the couch potato

BBC can enforce Net Neutrality through sheer market power

Belgacom takes new steps in expanding IPTV services

Is KPN planning its own version of UPC's Horizon box?

Nimbuzz versus Skype, Google versus ABC

Network pressure from Netflix shows success of OTT video

YTL, Sezmi bring quad-play with OTT over Wimax in Malaysia

Cisco's umi and Logitech's Revue: two new connected devices

Google TV marks important step with content deals

Battle starts for OTT market

Apple's iTV heats up competition on OTT market

Your.TV: waiting for DRM, content and distribution deals

Intel looks to break open connected TV market

ltra-Violet: the virtual successor to Blu-ray

Google optimises YouTube for mobile and TV

Can Google, Apple and Philips beat UPC and Telstra?

Google, Sony and Intel enter the living room

Time's running out for operators that want to profit from OTT

Metrological develops strong position on OTT market

Google targets operator market again with TV plans

Qualcomm hints at multi-function media gateway

Convergence expands to the TV

Liberty Global hints at consolidation, OTT box

Who's going to bring OTT content to the TV?

Apple poses threat to cable sector

And a series of Research Briefs:

Defining Connected TV

Three reasons for operators to launch OTT services

Google TV: lots to offer

OTT: distribution as a scenario for operators

Connected TV allows operators to benefit from OTT content

And the Global Connected TV 2011 report:

Global Connected TV 2011

Google doc: still not doing evil

Entertaining documentary on Google's history, right up to Google TV. Ken Auletta talking about copyright, privacy and power, but otherwise quite laudatory on Brin's and Page's idealistic motivations.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

HFC: lines are 97% fiber, but route km just 6%

Claims from the cable industry concerning the amount of fiber in their networks (97%) are realistic and unrealistic at the same time. It all depends on your perspective. If you are an end-user, the claim is defensible. If you own the network and think in terms of route kilometers, you will agree that it's not, because just 20% is fiber (source: FTTH Platform NL). In reality, this number is even worse and closer to just 6% (an informed source tells me).

End-user perspective
Cable operators in the Netherlands claim that 97% of their network is fiber. This would be the portion of the network (line) between your home and the Internet. The last mile is on average 300 meters (in the Netherlands). If the signal travels over non-fiber, this may function as a bottleneck, but over short distances like these (or 90 meters in early FTTH deployments, which were in fact FTTC) its doesn't really matter that much. In fact, in-home networking at 10 meters can be just as much as of a bottleneck.

Once this bottleneck needs to be taken out, fiber needs to be extended to let's say the home's WiFi router. And an interesting argument for this is gaining importance: the number of connected devices (directly or via WiFi) is exploding:
  • Computer (desktop, laptop)
  • Connected TV, hybrid STB
  • Blu-ray player
  • Game console
  • Smartphone, iPhone
  • LiveView (Sony Ericsson's new 'data pager')
  • E-reader, Kindle, Nook
  • iPad, notebook, tablet, netbook, smartbook, speedbook, booklet, ....
  • Femtocell
  • umi (Cisco's video calling box)
Network-owner perspective
Once the cable operator decides to extend fiber to each subscriber, he will realise that he will need to dig a lot more than just 3%. UPC NL (2,777,300 homes passed) and Ziggo (4,107,000 homes passed) would probably need to spend FTTH-like amounts of cash, say 800 EUR/home. That translates into EUR 2.2 billion for UPC and EUR 3.3 billion for Ziggo. Large sums for their controlling (Liberty Global owns UPC) and prospective (Ziggo's IPO may come in 2011) shareholders to reckon with.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

FTTH is sooo 200x - Connected TV is sooo 201x

Graph on Google Trends, comparing searches for Connected TV vs. FTTH