Viodi View – 06/29/12

The tangible nature of the transportation industry is often used as an analogy to describe the invisible workings of the telecommunications’ infrastructure. At the Parks Associates’ 2012 Connections Conference, Geoff Hollingworth of Ericsson made the transportation analogy when he suggested that telecommunications providers have the opportunity to be the, “Digital logistics suppliers for the world.”

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Digital Logistics Suppliers for the World

“Incredible change…more in the last 10 years than the earlier 100 years”, is how Geoff Hollingworth of Ericsson characterizes the impact of technology on society. As an interesting proof-point, Hollingworth’s son makes an appearance in this video talking about the high expectations that the customers of tomorrow have. Companies will need to transform their businesses to meet these expectations. Click here to view this video.

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From Physical to Digital Distribution

Content of all type is moving from physical to digital distribution, so says Pietro Macchiarella, Research Analyst with Parks Associates. Macchiarella adds that content protection and the rich data that digital distribution provides are common discussion points regardless of content type (e.g. video, music, gaming). Click here to view the video interview and read the rest of the post.

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Bearer Path Independence

In a competitive wireless environment, being able to deliver high quality of service regardless of the type of wireless network is going to be increasingly important for service providers. Further improving their efficiency will be the integration of voice of IP, regardless of the bearer path. Madan Jagernauth, vice president marketing and strategy for venture-backed Mavenir, discusses this as well the importance of off-loading data to WiFi networks, so that service providers can keep up with the growth of Internet traffic to smart phones and tablets. At the same time, the off-loading process and the transition between networks must be invisible to the end-user. Click to view the video.

Graphic courtesy of Infonetics

Infonetics Research: LTE Leadership in Wireless Infrastructure, IMS, VoLTE, and CAPEX by Alan Weissberger

Infonetics Research reports that LTE spending is up 128% from the year-ago first quarter, and the number of mobile operators committing to LTE continues to increase rapidly. The prestigious market research firm forecasts the LTE equipment market to grow to $17.5 billion in 2016.  Click here to read Alan Weissberger’s summary of four recent reports from Infonetics Research.

Sonus to acquire Network Equipment Technologies for $41.3M- a fraction of 1987 IPO price! by Alan Weissberger

This news item caught my eye, because NET was a rising star in the late 1980?s datacom world.  They were a leader in T1 Multiplexers from 1987 and an innovative provider of ATM and IP network equipment in the 1990s.  The company re-invented itself several times, but never regained the momentum it built up over 25 years ago!  Click here to read more.

Beyond the DVR

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Enabling a TV Cloud strategy, particularly when it comes to the User Interface for the TV and multiple screens, is what TiVo provides service providers. TiVo’s Evan Young briefly talks about the importance and challenges of presenting content in the right way to the right customer at the right time in this video interview.

Young’s comments provide an overview of TiVo’s service provider strategy, as exemplified by the 6/25 announcement with the Swedish telecommunications’ operator, Com Hem. With it’s multi-screen solution, TiVo has positioned itself as an alternative middleware solution for both HFC and IPTV operators. Click here to view the video.

Some Tweets and Other Short Thoughts:

  • Google as a gaming platform:  With Google’s announcements regarding tablets and cloud computing this week, this announcement about native support of its streaming service in the Chrome browser and OS was somewhat lost in the hoopla. The streaming service from Gaikai, coupled with Google devices, could be a viable alternative to the traditional gaming consoles experience at a lower cost.
  • Pass-through of video description for all MVPDs begins this Sunday – for an earlier Viodi View overview of these FCC rules, please see Robert Primosch’s overview.
  • Sorry, Marketers, You’re Doing Twitter Wrong – According to this, I can send 2 more tweets today.
  • Obscenity on ABC – this story never ends, even though broadcast becomes less relevant with rise of BB TV

The Korner – The Modern Day Train – Telecommunications Creating the Virtual Railcar

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Telecommunications and transportation used to be relatively disparate industries. From coordinating logistics to the purchase of tickets by passengers, telecommunications served more as a “signaling” function facilitating the flow of transportation, but not part of the transportation. Over time, however, communications capability has become an integral to many vehicles, such as “fly-by-wire” systems that use a local area communications network to replace heavier mechanical parts, improving efficiency and providing new opportunities.

An example of a potential new opportunity is seen in this video from Volvo, which features a test of a “Road Train”, which was done as part of the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project.  In this test, a convoy of five cars, driven in regular traffic, is assembled on the fly via a communications network (think Bluetooth pairing for cars).  Relying on cameras and RADAR, each car is spaced about 20 feet apart at speeds over 50 miles per hour, while one driver literally leads the pack through an invisible communications tether.

Click here to view the video and read more about this electronically connected caravan.

Mining Data & More in St. Louis

I have found vendor user group meetings can be as every bit as valuable as for-pay conferences. The Entone User’s Group meeting held in the convenient, historic and revitalized downtown St. Louis last week, was extremely valuable for the participants, who included Entone customers, prospects and partners. Entone has been a long-time supporter and sponsor of the Viodi View and ViodiTV and it was an honor to moderate a couple of the panels at this event and I enjoyed the interactive nature of the panels, as well as the openess of the discussions. 

Steve McKay, CEO of Entone, kicked off the conference by suggesting that Triple Play has become a zero sum game and that operators will need to continue to refine their offering to compete. McKay emphasized the importance of a whole-home media offering for operators as they seek to differentiate themselves from CATV and DBS.   Features of this offering include DVR, ability to view over the top videos, inclusion of personal media, in-home distribution and place-shifting tied together with an integrated and easy to use interface that only requires one simple-to-use remote. What McKay is calling for is not trivial and he called on the operators to push the vendor community for these sorts of whole home media devices. 

Colin Dixon of The Diffusion Group gave backed up McKay’s comments with some interesting data, particularly on home networks (going from 150 million in 2010 to 1 billion in 2030). Dixon stated that, "The PC is not and will not be the center of the home entertainment universe. The PC is a disabler." He suggested a much more TV-centric view of where over the top video is going, when he suggeested something like 12% of broadband viewers are watching 5 or more hours of video on the Internet per day and 84% of people who watch video on broadband want it on TV. 

Along these lines, he emphasized, "That the Internet is transitioning from a technology to a medium." He called what is happening the greatest realignment of television services in 60 years. He suggested that, "Bringing the web to TV is a losing proposition, while bringing the TV experience through the web is a winning proposition." To bolster this argument, he cited TDG’s primary research that suggests more than 3/4 of people prefer to watch DVDs in a social setting some or all of the time. His point was that new media must leverage existing behavior to be successful. He stressed the importance of the guide in helping people to discover content, as opposed to searching which is difficult with a television interface. He also called on telcos to look at new kinds of programming, such as gaming.  

Dixon provided an excellent overview of the entire over-the-top value chain, from content ingest to content delivery. It was a great set-up to my conversation about independent telcos and what they are doing in terms of local content. Several of the telcos in the audience mentioned that they are utilizing their VOD servers to store and stream local content. And local content is a differentiator, but it may not always be enough to keep a customer from churning. 

Doug Abolt described Consolidated Communications‘ process of how they mine their data to determine which customers are likely to churn. This has allowed them to target their marketing dollars and offers, such that they are able to get a better return on those investments. At the same time, there have been unexpected benefits, like identifying weak points in their networks. He described the virtual focus groups that are part of this process as being much more efficient, less costly and timelier than the traditional focus group. Abolt’s presentation was a good exclamation point on a couple of very productive days of learning.     

Tidbits from a U-verse Customer


So I am standing in the return line at a major Silicon Valley, big box retailer last night and a conversation with a late twenty-something guy, who is standing next to me, ensues. As it turns out, he is a current customer of AT&T’s U-verse IPTV service. Like my earlier video interview with uVerse customer Mark Snow, he seemed to be most impressed with the value of the service – i.e. how much he got for what he pays. 

He was impressed with the number of channels he receives and was especially pleased that the NFL Network was included as part of the bundle and didn’t require an additional charge like Comcast’s service does. Quality of the service did not seem to be an issue, although he did lament that he could not have two DVRs. He also complained that the VOD offering was nearly as broad as what Comcast offers. 

As far as new features, he says his girlfriend is the one who actively programs the DVR. He believed it was possible program the DVR by cell phone, but said they had never tried this feature, as they didn’t see any reason to do so. He also thought that the AT&T salesman had told of him a feature which he didn’t believe was possible (his words were “BS”). The feature was multiple viewpoints, where the customer could pick the camera angles. I told him that will be possible at some point. He expressed his desire to use this sort of feature for sporting events. 

Overall, he seemed to have a favorable impression of the service, as he expressed disappointment that he will not be able to receive it when he moves a few miles away from his current residence.