When we learned that Henning Shulzrinne was giving a talk locally on Internet 2.0 challenges, we jumped at the chance to attend. Henning has co-authored key Internet protocols and published more than 200 journal and conference papers and over 50 Internet RFCs. His focus was on the key challenges being faced today by the Internet, including the impacts of being attached to multiple networks, and how that changes some of our basic assumptions about how things work.
Dave recently had the experience of being on the receiving end of remote PC support. He learned that great tools in the right hands can provide an exemplary customer experience--but in the wrong hands can be very frustrating to the end user.
I Can Listen To Your Phone Calls: A Guest Article by Jeremy Bennett (BBHR 9/30/2008)
Broadband connected devices are great for users--and for vandals and thieves. As our networks have expanded to include devices in our pockets and on our walls, security risks have crept into countless aspects of our personal lives. Our guest author, Jeremy Bennett, challenges vendors to think about security before attackers do. He illustrates the dangers by providing links to sites like the Car Whisperer, which allows attackers to eavesdrop on conversations or inject fake traffic announcements into your car.
With the video entertainment world in flux, many industries are vying to play a role in the delivery of consumer entertainment experiences. The delivery of online video content to the TV screen can take many routes and all could be seen at this year's CES.
Recent articles on municipal Wi-Fi show that we're entering a new phase in the hype cycle for wireless broadband. We are leaving the "peak of inflated expectations" and are entering the "trough of disillusionment". No one should be surprised. Physics still rules and mobility comes with a price. Wireless broadband will be as important to broadband as cellular telephony was to landline service. But nothing comes for free.
There's been lots of hype about the upcoming auction of 700 MHz spectrum. The recent WCA conference was a great opportunity to get up to speed. Following the conference there was more public jockeying, with Google in the spotlight. The FCC is scheduled to make its decisions just after this newsletter went to press. We think those who had been enthusiastic about the potential of the 700 MHz band for personal broadband will be disappointed. There's too little spectrum, of the wrong kind, in too small blocks, fragmented into small geographical areas, with rules that favor the existing wireless carriers to warehouse it for future voice services.
We took the opportunity to pause and think about how effectively we spotted some of the trends over the past twelve months. We report on how the key areas we identified after last year's CES have fared over the year.
Media Networking 4--Intel, Microsoft and the "Networked Video PC" (BBHR 7/26/2006)
The "networked video PC" will play a central role in television viewing. The new Vista/Viiv PCs will act as high-definition PVRs and will be able to distribute streaming and recorded video to any screen in the house using the new networking technologies.
There is a delicate balance between continuous innovation and customer confusion. In home networking, we have been in a period of relative stability, at least with respect to Wi-Fi and powerline networking. We're now entering the next big dislocation as Wi-Fi wends its way painfully toward 802.11n. And in powerline, the pressure to support HD video networking has created two paths with some implications which may be unclear to consumers.
Telephone companies worldwide are deploying the "triple play": voice, data and video services for the home. Some are starting to deploy standards-based systems to manage home equipment of many types and from different vendors. To learn more about how telcos will manage the triple play, we talked with Netopia, whose products based on the TR-069 standard have been adopted by BellSouth.
You've heard it before: the healthcare system worldwide is facing a crisis. At a symposium in Boston on "The Accelerating Use of Communication Technology in Healthcare" there were two pieces of good news. A committed core of thought leaders from the medical community, corporations and governments is starting to act as a catalyst for experimentation and change. And the health care impacts and after-effects of Hurricane Katrina may act as a rallying cry to speed attention to this critical problem, at least in the US.
In our "always connected" world, it's not just technology that keeps changing. People's lifestyles, industry structures and the products and services they count on, are morphing in front of us. Our concepts of "real time", "at home" and "living room TV" are being changed by PVRs, devices like Slingbox, and MobiTV. As new devices keep flowing at the consumer, it will be interesting to see which have real value and which are simply "how many functions can I put in one box"?
The "C word" is back. Convergence. You'll hear it in phrases like "fixed-mobile convergence" and a host of other places. We take a brief look at the myriad ways the word is being applied, each of which now has some very real examples.
Imagine what it's like to be a city mayor. Not only do you have constituents knocking on your door, you also have this new world of broadband that some people think should be on your agenda. Broadband Properties Magazine asked us to help their readers, especially municipal officials, understand the basics of broadband access technologies, how well they work and why one might fit a particular set of needs better than another.
How many remember HomeRF, @Home, Enron broadband backbones, or the broadband subscriber base so small that we reported annual growth rates of 75%? As we reach the fifth anniversary of publishing our Report on the Broadband Home, we look back at where we were in 2000, where we are now and some of the key directions for the next five years. The journey isn't over. Before the end of this decade, we look forward to real "whole home" networking at 100 Mbps, personal broadband and lots more.
People have life cycles and so do companies. SBC's acquisition of AT&T will end its 128 years as an independent company. We reflect on the transformation in the US telecommunications industry and how AT&T saw the future but couldn't live to be a part of it. It took convergence seriously and made some bold moves--but was unable to execute the actions required to be one of the survivors in the new world it foresaw.
Standards play a large role in the success of new technologies, and we heard a lot about new standards at CES. Some companies are bringing products to market ahead of standards, and many other companies are upset with them. This got us thinking about the proper timing for standards.
In “the old days” we all knew what a telephone looked like and how to get service for it; there weren’t a lot of choices. As industries collide and the choices for communicating with someone by voice at a distance proliferate, it’s becoming increasingly complex for consumers to figure out what to buy, whom to buy it from and where it will work. Convergence may mean that an increasing number of devices transmit over IP, but it certainly doesn’t spell simplicity for the consumer. Will we face up to the challenge?
The future of VoIP depends on support for both new "SIP addresses" and traditional telephone numbers. While SIP addresses work well on PCs, it's much easier to remember phone numbers and enter them on phone keyboards. ENUM bridges the gap by translating any phone number to a SIP address.
What effect can we and our companies have on our own future well-being and that of our loved ones? AAHSA and CAST are focused on answering that question by bringing together technology companies, researchers, facility administrators and government representatives to impact how technology will be successfully used to provide services for the aging. We report on the "Future of Aging Services Conference" in Washington, where we saw lots of promising ideas, and much work yet to be done.
Another Networking Project -- It's Easy If You Update Firmware (BBHR 3/25/2004)
Some people never learn. Dave volunteered to install another network - for our daughter this time. It went almost without a hitch - but reinforced why it's important to update firmware.
Has the world come far enough in the last 40 years to overcome the obstacles that have prevented the success of consumer videotelephony? Sandy looks back at the lessons she learned at AT&T and muses on whether we’ve addressed the hardest issues: people’s behavior and expectations.
We interviewed Kenny Van Zant, EVP Consumer BU, at Motive to try to get a better grasp of the complex maze of companies providing "service management". We learned that this area touches consumers, communications service providers, hardware and software technology companies and cuts across people, technology and processes. Motive's goal--and that of many others in this field--is one we can all support: to make life simpler for the consumer and more profitable for the service provider.
Digital Dreams Meet Reality -- Creating a Simple Home Network (BBHR 10/20/2003)
Setting up a simple home network should not take twenty hours! When Dave volunteered to install one in his brother's new home, he had no idea how many seemingly easy things could go wrong. After reflecting on the experience, he concluded that there are some things we as an industry can do to improve this, as well as things the end user might be cautioned about.
Intel's proactive approach to growing the market for their chips is once again in high gear. Even as their Wi-Fi blitz is going full stream ahead, their technology and corporate planning folks are laying the groundwork for the huge market that exists within consumer homes for linking together PCs, home entertainment and more. We interviewed the experts on their Digital Home Initiative and their membership in the Digital Home Working Group to learn what we can expect next.
In the same way that mobile phones have become commonplace over the past decade, we expect mobile broadband data devices will do so over the next ten years. The groundwork is being set with people's increasing use of broadband at home, the growth of Wi-Fi home networking and hot spots, the ubiquity of personal portable devices (in the form of cell phones) and the emergence of technologies which promise affordable equipment for non-line of sight broadband over wide areas. The broadband home is extending far beyond the four walls of people's houses into "broadband anywhere". What's not clear is which service providers will reap the benefits.
What do you learn when you bring together 125 executives from 70 telcos based in 40 countries? Alcatel's DSL customer event focused on broadband applications which will help increase the Average Revenue Per User to justify the continuing expenditures for building the underlying infrastructure, applications and support.
During our trip to Spain, we met with the incumbent and several aspiring broadband competitors. Despite differences between countries, we found many common themes across borders, including the move to "all IP," innovations in wireless and PLC technologies, and public policy to spur broadband competition. Muchas gracias to our readers in Spain for sharing their insights with us.
We've heard so much hype about Wi-Fi that we thought we'd try to provide a dose of reality. We do believe that broadband wireless has a great future -- but it's not all Wi-Fi in spite of what you read in the press.
With all the discussion about broadband's increasing speeds and applications, it's easy to take for granted the life-style changes that an always-on service makes. We talk about some of these in our home, and how hard it is to describe to people who aren't experiencing it.
We've written a lot about how IP communications would be a "disruptive technology" to incumbent telephone companies. Now we're seeing the impact in falling prices for traditional voice services, and increased competition for high-speed Internet.
As people get used to having a broadband connection to a mobile device, they start wishing they could be connected wherever and whenever they want to. This article covers some recent developments in wireless technologies and services that promise to make broadband available anywhere. We conclude that wireline combined with Wi-Fi will often be most effective in and near buildings, and new "WirelessMAN" technologies will dominate where there's lower population density.
South Korea: Living Laboratory for Broadband: A Guest Article by Nancy Goguen (BBHR 1/21/2003)
South Korea has been a broadband success story, hitting 67% household penetration in 2002 and outpacing other countries around the globe. The critical mass of consumers using broadband in Korea provides a living laboratory in which to observe the factors (including population density, pricing, applications, competition and government policy) contributing to its explosive broadband growth. Nancy visited South Korea in November to learn about how users got hooked on the broadband experience and the early role Internet cafes played in making broadband applications fashionable and fun.
We're seeing signs that broadband wireless access to the home is on its way to becoming a viable way to compete against (or complement) DSL and cable broadband. Technologies to send broadband data from a central point to the home, through the air, reliably and cost-effectively, seem to be emerging. We attended WCA's Technical Symposium & Business Expo in San Jose to get a better understanding of the key issues and a sense for how real an impact this technology will have.
Competing Digital TV Transport Paradigms: A Guest Article by John R. Pickens, PhD (BBHR 11/24/2002)
The battle over evolution of TV transport (aka transmission) technology is just beginning. This guest article describes what is changing in end-to-end distribution of TV to the home and within the home, with a prognosis for the ultimate success of IP in transporting video services.
Connectivity and digital are the driving forces for the broadband home. In this article, we examine the accelerating migration from analog to digital in both content and home devices. While (digital) CDs, DVDs, still cameras and camcorders have all but displaced their (analog) forebearers, broadcast radio and especially TV are moving more slowly.
In spite of gloomy press reports decrying the slow growth of broadband, penetration in North America and other places is reaching critical mass. We use Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" to explain how the process of reaching critical mass may elude a press that sees things either as total gloom or success.
Even if the infrastructure is being put in place and there are plausible applications, a big question these days is "where's the money?" The question really has two parts: "What will the consumer spend money for?" and then "Where will the capital investment come from to fund development of these great new things?" We reported on sessions and speeches with investors and venture capitalists at Broadband Home Fall 2001.
Broadband By the Bay - Revolutionary Change, Evolutionary Timeframe (BBHR 9/26/2001)