BBH Report Home Page
July 29, 2007 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month's briefs focus on getting video directly to the consumer; "femtocell" as the word of the month; another letter in the WiMAX alphabet; wireless USB product certification; and more.

Bypassing Video Service Providers

More news keeps popping up about content providers trying to get video directly to the consumer outside the traditional "walled garden" deals with MSOs, telcos and satellite providers.

  • Microsoft has struck a deal to offer Disney films on its Xbox Live download service in the US. The deal includes not only movies but also TV programs from Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
  • TiVo customers who have high speed Internet can now order PPV movies and TV shows directly from their TiVo remote control, without a PC, by using the "Amazon Unbox on TiVo" download service.
  • NBC and CBS announced more online offerings, including entire episodes of shows being available on NBC.com
  • ABC has enhanced its full-episode broadband player with a beta test of "a limited amount of content in true high-definition 1280 X 720 resolution" and promises to add more in the fall.

Word of the Month: Femtocell

Read any industry publication about mobile phone service in the home and you are sure to come across "femtocell," the buzz word of the month. Broadband Home Central first used the word in this report a year ago when writing about PicoChip's partnership with Korea Telecom to develop WiBro/WiMAX access points, or femtocells, to extend WiBro service into residential and corporate environments without requiring special UMA-capable handsets.

In case you missed their rise to prominence, femtocells are tiny cellular base stations that provide enhanced mobile voice and data coverage inside people's homes. Your standard 3G handset connects to your own local cell site (the femtocell) and routes its calls over your broadband connection. Femtocells are likely to come as both standalone units and as part of residential gateways.

A brief article in our June 2006 report Expanding Mobile Coverage Indoors ( www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0605_3.html ) talked about such a capability from UbiquiSys Ltd. At the time, the company called it "a home access point system". Look their website now and you'll see that the f-cell word has come a long way since then!

A group of vendors recently formed the Femto Forum. Founding members include Airvana, ip.access, Netgear, PicoChip, RadioFrame, Tatara and Ubiquisys. It held its inaugural meeting at the recent International Conference on Home Access Points and Femtocells in London.

( www.picochip.com ) ( www.kt.co.kr/kthome/eng/index.jsp ) ( www.ubiquisys.com ) ( www.femtoforum.org ) ( www.avrenevents.com/femto2007 )

WiMAX Alphabet: D, E,...M

Every time you get the illusion that you have caught up on what's happening in technologies and buzzwords, something new comes along. The latest in our wireless broadband lexicon is 802.16m, a new version of the 802.16 standard which targets increased bandwidth by using larger MIMO antenna arrays. Its properties include data transfer speeds up to 1Gbps and backward compatibility with existing WiMAX radios. IEEE is assuring that the protocol will meet the ITU's requirements for 4G. The 802.1m group targets completion of the standard by late 2009.

Take the Skype and Go to Jail

The Antigua Sun reports that Antigua and Barbuda have begun to crack down on the use of VoIP services from Vonage, Net2Phone and Skype, which are illegal there. Beware if you visit, since that Skype call could end up costing you a fine of up to $50,000 or up to two years imprisonment. ( www.antiguasun.com )

Wireless USB Is Finally Here!

We have been writing about ultra wideband (UWB) since 2003 and wireless USB since early 2005 (see Certified Wireless USB -- Coming Soon To Your PC ( www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0701_4.html )). So it was good to hear that four companies have received Wireless USB Certification for six consumer products--notebook PCs from Dell and Lenovo, USB adapters and hubs from D-Link and IOGEAR. These are expected to be the first standards-based UWB products to reach the consumer market. ( www.usb.org/developers/wusb/ )

Adios to VIIV

What a relief! We won't have to try to make sense of VIIV any more. Intel has stopped advertising the brand and--according to CNET (Intel losing its joie de Viiv ( news.com.com/Intel+losing+its+joie+de+Viiv/2100-1006_3-6197911.html ))--is consolidating marketing around the Core brand. VIIV evidently won't disappear entirely--it will survive as a sticker on high-end PCs and say "Core 2 with Viiv". We tried to give Intel the benefit of the doubt that VIIV really meant something, but that "something" kept changing. Adios VIIV--we won't miss you.