Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Evaluating Home Networking for IPTV Deployments

Parks Associates moderated a panel discussion yesterday at the TelcoTV conference titled "Home Networking: Evaluating Your Options." A quick straw poll of the audience revealed that an overwhelming number were service providers. It's good news to see the interest in home networking from the service provider community. Not only do we anticipate that home networks (now enabled via both residential gateways and stand-alone routers and adapters) will add value to broadband and voice services, but will allow the video services offered by numerous providers to be deployed quicker (bridging between the modem/RG and set-top boxes, for examples) and with more applications (whole-house DVR).

With representatives from Entone, MoCA, HomePlug, and HomePNA, we walked through an evaluation framework that service providers can use as they are comparing and contrasting their various home networking options. From the discussion, the key variables that emerge in evaluating these solutions are:
1. What is the guaranteed throughput that a home networking solution can offer?
2. How does a home networking solution address quality-of-service measures?
3. How does a home networking solution account for security, both inside (encryption) and outside (combatting leakage) of the home?
4. How does a home networking solution deal with interference?

Additional questions that came from the audience included:
1. How do the different home networking solutions support multicast?
2. How are home networking solutions providers working to bring down the total bill-of-materials costs (BOM)?

One audience member brought up a relatively new initiative from the ITU called G.HN. My understanding of this effort is to look at developing a single home networking standard that will work over multiple PHY media (twisted-pair, coax, and powerline). Market competition will certainly shake out the winners in this area, but a European-led effort for standardization is certainly one to watch.

From the rest of the TelcoTV show, one key takeaway I had is related to how the service providers may either embrace or compete with the over-the-top video services now available from many different providers. We saw some interesting demonstrations of middleware and encoder vendors offering ways in which service providers can actually bring the over-the-top video into their service mix to extend the value of their multi-channel television offerings. In a recent News.com article (http://news.com.com/Phone%2C+cable+companies+embracing+Web+2.0/2100-1033_3-6133451.html), my colleague Michael Cai commented on what is driving incumbent service providers to take a closer look at incorporating user-generated and over-the-top video content into their mainstream services

"The video market is becoming fragmented," he said. "And if the cable operators and phone companies don't pay attention to what their customers want to watch, they risk leaving money on the table because people will go other places to get it."

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