Viodi View – 03/16/2011

“If you haven’t seen it, then it is new to you.”  Something like that was a tag line from NBC around a decade ago touting their summer line-up of reruns.  That was in the days before DVRs became ubiquitous and appointment television still ruled the day for the masses.  In those days, the PC might be used for gaming, but it wasn’t a mainstream way to access video programming.  Other screens such as smart phones, personal media players and tablets had come and gone (think Apple’s Newton and GO corporation and clearly were not ready for prime time at the turn of the century.

Fast-forward to today and tablets are flying off-the-shelf in numbers that are the equivalent to a top-10 MSO worth of subscribers every quarter. According to a new study from Parks Associates, 3G+ connected tablets will make up more than 68 million of the projected 126 million to be sold in 2015.  These tablets are potential screens that didn’t exist a decade ago and their RF connectivity provides the potential for bypass of the traditional land line infrastructure.

This possibility of a new sales channel is probably part of the reason that Time-Warner is getting pushback from content owners regarding the release of an iPad app that allows one to view content on his iPad from within his household.   In a sense, this isn’t new ground, in that Time-Warner had trialed a linear programming system over broadband to the PC in their San Diego system some years back (good white paper on this effort can be found here).  This earlier trial was different in that it was to a device (a PC or lap-top) that didn’t have the convenience, battery life or connectivity of a tablet.

Still, the model is changing and affiliate relationships are changing, as shown by today’s story that Netflix is considering the acquisition of original programming, so it isn’t too surprising that content owners do not want to give-away rights to something that they might be able to monetize in a new way.

Broadband – Friend or Foe

So, what will the role of OTT video ultimately be and what will the relationship of OTT and the broadband operator be?  These are just a couple of the questions we will be pondering in a panel at IP Possibilities next month in Kansas City.  This is a must-attend event for anyone interested in how IP technologies affect the independent communications service providers.  In preparation for the panel, I found this video, which sheds light from some industry leaders on the related question of whether OTT is “friend or foe.”  Even though this video is from a couple of years back, it still is relevant to next month’s conversation.  Note, Shaun Carlson is now with V3 Technologies and will be speaking at the MTA Convention in less than 2 weeks.  Click here to view.

Increased Video Traffic Necessitates AT&T to Cap DSL Internet and U-Verse by Alan Weissberger

Bandwidth caps are one way that broadband providers can ensure a return on their investment in broadband.  AT&T’s announcement of a 150/250 Gbyte DSL/Uverse cap is consistent with other providers (e.g. Comcast’s limit of 250 Gbytes).  At this point, these caps could be viewed as an  insurance policy against potential cord-cutting.  Click here to read Alan Weissberger’s look at AT&T’s announcement regarding their bandwidth caps.

Local Content – Putting Smiles on People’s Faces

Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone and Gary Evans of HBC Give Tips for Local Content Success.
Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone and Gary Evans of HBC Give Tips for Local Content Success.

One way that operators cantake advantage of over-the-top is by placing their own local content online.  In this video interview at last year’s Broadband Properties Summit, Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone explains how they are producing online video.  Smithville’s online video strategy proceeded its launch of its franchised video operation.  This video also features Gary Evans of HBC talking about the keys to success in local content.  Local content will be the topic of two panels I will be moderating at the 2011 Broadband Properties Summit.  Click here to view.


Challenges in Educating the Customer Regarding New Infrastructure

Andrew Tang of PG&E
Andrew Tang of PG&E

PG&E made the headlines of last week’s San Jose Mercury, as the California Public Utilities Commission ordered this investor-owned utility to devise ways for customers to refuse smart meters. The intent of this order is to placate critics of the meters who have expressed concerns over accuracy of these devices and the potential health effects of the radio frequency emissions.

In this first part of a two-part video interview, Andrew Tang of PG&E points out the challenge of when and how best to educate the customer on a technology that rolls out over time; similar to the challenges operators face when deploying Fiber to the Home technologies.  Ironically, just as this issue goes to press, I saw the first television commercial from PG&E regarding the benefits of Smart Meters.  Smartly, this commercial features well-respected figures not affiliated with PG&E.   Click here to view.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts

  • Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with our Japanese friends and readers in the wake of the horrific ongoing events. It is an amazing country, with a resilient population, who will find a way to rebuild from this tragedy.
  • Noticed that Vidyo made WSJ’s top 50 start-ups. Coincidentally, using their video conference software in a local content talk today with a group of telcos. They also power Google chat.
  • And congrats in order for my friends at RGB Networks (13) and Fusion-io (20) for also cracking the WSJ Top 50 start-up list.

The Korner – iPod as an Off-Air TV

iPod As An Off Air TV
iPod As An Off Air TV

This interesting device, from Cydle, turns a an iTouch or iPhone into a television capable of receiving off-air television signals via the ATSC-Mobile standard. In addition to the antenna and off-air tuner, this device has a battery that powers its electronics and will charge the iTouch as well.  This device should be out sometime this month.  We caught a preview of this device in this video we recorded at CES 2011.  Click here to view.

A related post from awhile ago,

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