This page references articles in our reports from 2006 to 2009 describing companies and organizations we have visited or interviewed. Many articles mention multiple companies.
Separate pages archive articles in our reports from 2000 to 2002 and 2003 to 2005 describing companies and organizations we have visited or interviewed.
Articles are listed below ordered by date of the newsletter they appeared in—newest to oldest. To search for all mentions of a particular company, please use the Google search box on the top right of this page.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is continuing to build on their strength in the market. Their latest announcement, called Wi-Fi Direct, allows Wi-Fi devices to talk to one another directly without the use of access points. With initial support from Apple, Intel, Marvell, Atheros and Ozmo, you can look forward to Wi-Fi Direct devices simplifying your life in the future.
Although G.hn enthusiasts believe it will become the dominant home networking standard over existing wiring, skeptics say G.hn is just another standard that's incompatible with all the others. The HomePlug folks told us they're trying to change G.hn before it's too late. The MoCA folks think it's irrelevant.
Cable's Capitol Return -- Cable Show 2009
Tru2way Demos--Seeing is Believing (BBHR 4/14/2009): The only way to convey what is happening in a tru2way interactive application is to see it. We feature tru2way video demos from Panasonic, ADB, AMDOCS, NDS, Alticast, integra5, itaas, TAG Networks and Zodiac Interactive.
EBIF For the Masses (BBHR 4/14/2009): Although EBIF is designed to run on even low-end digital settops, the demonstrations showed how many interesting things can be achieved with this basic functionality. These video demos show ways to give viewers more choice and control in a Starz application, the many things that can be done with ad widgets from BIAP, and how ActiveVideo builds on EBIF capability to enhance social media and e-commerce with live Internet content.
CableLabs Plays Central Role (BBHR 4/14/2009): CableLabs has once again assumed a central role in coordinating industry participation to establish standards, this time for tru2way and EBIF. The organization has been active in evangelizing these technologies with interactive content providers. CableLabs' latest contributions are a source code reference implementation of tru2way, and an announcement with Canoe Ventures of the Advanced Advertising 1.0 specification.
The graying of the population and healthcare's ever-increasing costs are two drivers of an initiative sometimes called "Connected Health". The goal is to expand healthcare so that quality care can be delivered outside of traditional medical settings. Remote care and disease management are two faces of these technology-enabled care programs that we saw at CES, from companies such as Meridian Health, Halo Monitoring, GrandCare Systems and Intel.
Tools in the Real World--A Visit with Comcast Southwest Florida (BBHR 12/4/2008)
On one of our trips to Sanibel, we visited with managers at the Fort Myers Comcast system, to get a sense for what tools they use to pinpoint problems and monitor the quality of their services. Their mind-set is changing from "Did I clear the trouble report?" to "Is the customer satisfied?" This requires not only the proper tools, but also different attitudes--and giving technicians the ability to call upon other resources if they can't solve the problem alone.
IPTV World Forum – North America was held on July 22-23, 2008 at the McCormick Place Convention Centre, Chicago, IL. During the show, we taped video interviews with four companies we found particularly interesting: MTSallstream, Witbe, Firecomms, and Nyce Technology. We will include more about these companies in our upcoming report on the show.
Cable Show 2008: More Bandwidth Magic--Imagine Communications (BBHR 7/10/2008)
Cable is doing with their spectrum the same thing college students used to do with telephone booths: seeing how much they can squeeze inside. In the past, we've detailed many of the methods for multiplying spectrum effectiveness, but were pleased to learn about a new one at the cable show. With a roster of people who've succeeded in the past, Imagine Communications appears to have a clever new approach to the problem.
At the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, we heard Comcast's COO talk about the need for status monitoring "to see problems before our customers do." We don't think we've ever heard a top cable exec use those words before.
The rationale for G.hn is simple: it's not possible to grow a worldwide market with five mutually-incompatible "existing wiring" technologies that often interfere with each other. For over two years there has been a standards effort in the ITU to create a common standard for home networking over existing wiring. Big players like Intel and TI are enthusiastic about G.hn but saw a need to form a companion organization, HomeGrid Forum, to accelerate the standard and make an early start on interoperability testing and certification.
The latest incarnation of Clearwire brings together a critical mass of players -- including the major cable operators -- to roll out a national WiMAX network. We have been following Clearwire since Version 1.0 more than five years ago.
CES 2008 was Bill Gates's swan song as Chairman of Microsoft. Aside from the customary humorous film segment with its celebrity parade, his speech was focused on a future world which will be more user and media centric and in which services save the user from having to manually bridge between individual devices.
The last few years have seen a remarkable change in the involvement of the cable industry with consumer electronics companies. 2008 was noteworthy as the first time a cable CEO delivered a CES keynote. The messages from Comcast CEO Brian Roberts focused on this convergence and what it will mean for consumers and CE manufacturers. The messages were simple: more openness and more choice.
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. We report on Apple, Microsoft, Intel, NBC Universal, Panasonic, Samsung, HP, Netgear, Buffalo, D-Link, TiVo, Amazon, Sling Media, VUDU, Digeo, ActionTec, and 4HomeMedia.
Wireless Home Control Coming of Age: Z-Wave and Zigbee (BBHR 2/25/2008)
Wireless home control is the secret sauce that enables you to automatically change your thermostat setting, turn on your plant lights or water your lawn when you are thousands of miles from home. Last year we left CES without a clear vision of how the market might play out. This year, we've decided on which systems we're going to test in our own home.
US Telco TV offerings are finally on the move. After years of trailing countries like France, Italy and Hong Kong, the telcos move into video services is reaching the tipping point. The signposts we saw at this year's TelcoTV Show are clear. AT&T and Verizon are both past the start-up phase. The talk is turning from technology to applications, its availability is growing, and consumers are buying it.
Just when we thought we couldn't bear to participate in one more conference, we yielded to the lure of MoCA. The conference provided a deep dive into the technology of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), and a close look at Verizon's application of it. Entropic has been leading for a long time, and Broadcom and Conexant have committed resources to support it. With the technology now firmly in place for service providers, is a retail move waiting in the wings?
We have been covering the application of broadband and wireless technologies to home healthcare for four years. Technology to address "Healthcare Unbound" keeps getting more capable and less expensive. Groups such as the Continua Health Alliance are fostering development of health care standards, system interoperability, and device connectivity. But technology is not the limiting factor in Healthcare Unbound -- business models and reimbursement are. Changing these is proving to be slow and painful.
Home networks don't replace everything when a new generation of technology appears. Ubicom is a software/hardware company which helps users get the best out of what they have. Their solutions do pattern recognition on the streams, identifying and prioritizing media traffic ahead of normal data traffic. Their latest gateway design is targeted for supporting HDTV, "toll quality" VoIP and online gaming in wireless networks with 802.11n.
WCA continues to delight us because of the quality of its intellectual content. Barry West, CTO of Sprint Nextel, shared his vision of the mobile Internet and explained why Sprint is building a WiMAX network. Clearwire's CEO Ben Wolff shared his company's progress to date. After the show, they announced an agreement to jointly deploy wireless broadband services across the U.S., with plans to reach 100 million potential subscribers by the end of 2008.
The Wi-Fi Alliance and the IEEE task group have set a common path toward an agreed standard and interoperability testing. Certified interoperable "draft 802.11n" products are expected to reach the market this summer from companies such as Buffalo Technology and Intel. This should end the consumer confusion caused by the many incompatible "draft n" devices that flooded the market last year
While high-speed wireless networking is moving rapidly to fully-interoperable products, powerline networking seems to be going in the opposite direction. Three entrenched groups--the HomePlug Powerline Alliance (HomePlug), with Intellon as the major semiconductor provider; the Universal Powerline Association (UPA), led by chip maker DS2; and High Definition PLC (HD-PLC), led by Panasonic--with comparable but non-interoperable product lines are coming to market simultaneously. The products appear attractive, but it's hard to see how consumers can sort through the conflicting claims, and nearly impossible for them to figure out what will work with what.
The way you connect PCs and portable devices is about to change. While Certified Wireless USB has taken longer to get to market than its advocates predicted, it's very likely going to be the first mass-market application of ultra wideband (UWB) and will have a big impact on cable clutter. At CES, we met with many UWB companies including the USB Implementors Forum (USB-IF), Alereon, Artimi, Staccato, WiQuest, saw some real products based on CWUSB, and saw prototypes of more advanced products. The most impressive was a wireless UWB docking station for Toshiba notebook PCs.
This year was different. Every year we come back from CES and people ask what exciting new toys we got to play with. This time, instead of just talking about new chips and technologies, Sandy cut short the chip interviews to play with new portable media (Toshiba, Urge, Vongo, and Bose) and IP voice toys from Skype. It was fun, but expensive.
DLNA's certification logo is appearing on lots of products. A new DLNA consumer Web site explains to the curious what that logo on their new gizmo means and which products carry it. There's lots more work ahead, but "DLNA is on a roll".
DLNA has added link protection guidelines, but content owners require more in order to allow their premium digital content to be transferred between devices. SVP is a hardware mechanism to protect digital content end-to-end.
What will TV look like in the future? If people like Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis and Silvio Scaglia have their way, we know some of its components: P2P streaming, TV-like, choice and control, personal, social, easy to use. Their first attempts to make this real are services like Joost and Babelgum. Whether they can realize these goals, and be compelling for consumers and financially viable for investors, remains to be seen.
Solving all the problems of media networking is hard. One media networking company we wrote about enthusiastically (DigitalDeck) has pulled back from direct marketing, deciding to focus their efforts on developing and then licensing their intellectual property through well known consumer brands.
Over the past year, IPTV deployments have moved from pioneering telcos and vendors to mainstream players using more sophisticated components and offering services like HD. This year's TelcoTV Show included issues coming out of real deployments, maturing technologies, AT&T's U-verse deployment and new packaged solutions for smaller telcos. Although much capital and attention are being provided to TV services over managed networks, online video over the unmanaged Internet is beginning to play a complementary role. We report on discussions with AT&T, Alcatel, Minerva Networks, SES Americom, NRTC, NTCA, Blip.TV, Verizon, and Digital Fountain.
Ultrawideband and the Unwired Home: A Guest Article by Billy Brackenridge (BBHR 12/13/2006)
Ultra wideband chip companies believe that UWB will play an increasingly important role over time. We invited Billy Brackenridge of Staccato Communications to share his views of where UWB is going.
Getting video entertainment to the home is simple compared with distributing the video signal within the home. In addition to various wired approaches, multiple wireless technologies are competing for video distribution. Both 802.11n and multiple approaches to ultra-wideband (UWB) are in the game for multi-room video distribution. We discuss work by Ruckus Wireless, Tzero Technologies, Sigma Designs, Pulse~LINK, Metalink, Airgo, and Qualcomm.
We had always been skeptical that BPL could be used to provide broadband service in rural areas, since the deployment costs seemed very high when the population density is low. Conversations with two innovative companies--International Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC) and utility.net--followed by a visit to rural Virginia, convinced us that there's hope for people in unserved and underserved markets.
Networked Digital TV: A Guest Article by Keri Waters (BBHR 9/9/2006)
Consumers keep wishing for new electronics to be simpler and more usable, but technology seems to make more things possible only by adding more boxes, wires and complexity. Digital media adapters make it possible to listen to music and to view photos and videos on home theater systems, but add yet more boxes to the home. Keri Waters of Micronas USA tells why, as analog starts going off the air and new TVs must contain a digital tuner and digital video decoder, it makes increasing sense to incorporate the DMAs into TVs to create networked digital TV sets. The result may be more complex for the manufacturer but promises to be simpler for the end user.
"Wildblue Country"--Broadband for The Rural Lifestyle (BBHR 9/9/2006)
How fast does broadband need to be? Our visit with satellite broadband provider WildBlue, followed by a visit with our son who recently installed the service, helped provide the answer: "a lot faster than you used to have." Wildblue targets the unserved and underserved markets that cable and DSL don't reach. It may be a niche market, but a target market of 12-15 million homes and offices isn't too shabby.
Two Approaches To Mobile Video--Orb Networks and MobiTV (BBHR 9/9/2006)
Mobile video is a big deal. MobiTV and Orb Networks are two companies with very different mental models of what consumers want and how to provide it. Orb approaches the market with the vision that customers already own and subscribe to lots of music, photos and video, and see their job as making it all easily available to the customer when she's away from home. MobiTV is more focused on the mobile phone experience and providing "snack TV" in short bursts, acting as both service/application platform and content aggregator. We recently visited both companies to learn more.
Extending the Range of Metro Wi-Fi--Ruckus MetroFlex (BBHR 9/9/2006)
Ruckus Wireless specializes in smart antennas and smart software for improving the range and quality of wireless networks. Their initial focus was on improving the range and quality of Wi-Fi in the home. In an update with CEO Selina Lo, we learned more about their new product designed to improve performance of Metro Wi-Fi networks. Although investors and analysts thought they were crazy when they first entered the Wi-Fi home networking market, their success to date speaks for itself.
The biggest news in broadband wireless came after this year's WCA: Intel and Motorola announced an investment of $900 million in Clearwire and Motorola's acquisition of Clearwire's NextNet Wireless subsidiary. The convention made clear that giant companies are putting their weight behind WiMAX and the WiMAX Forum leaders are trying to steer their way through the complex technical and political landscape. Participants agreed that in the end game there will be multiple radio technologies and on-ramps to the mobile Internet, including WiMAX, Wi-Fi and 3G.
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.
Media Networking 5 -- Entertainment Video On the Networked PC (BBHR 7/26/2006)
In another aspect of the networked video PC, we discuss how consumers will be able to get the full array of high-definition entertainment video into the PC. We cover Hauppauge Digital.
Staccato Communications has been a key participant in UWB development. An interview with them gave us some numbers on the expected magnitude of the market, the software stacks they expect to support, shipping timeframes, and the types of video it will and will not support.
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. We cover Broadcom, Atheros, Marvell, Netgear, DS2, HomePlug, and Intellon.
How do 802.11n, HomePlug AV, Intel Viiv, Microsoft Vista, PVRs, new sources of video, your old A/V equipment, IPTV, codecs and portable video players come together to make a difference in people's lives? Through personal examples, we describe some of today's answers and explore how these pieces will evolve and interrelate in the future.
A mass consumer market for media networking is dependent on new high-speed networking technologies that don't require new wiring. Many of these technologies are now reaching the market and fighting for market share. We cover the The HomePlug Powerline Alliance (HomePlug), Intellon, Metalink Broadband, the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), and Entropic Communications.
Media Networking 3--How Did We Live Without DigitalDeck? (BBHR 6/19/2006)
We've been searching for a good way to distribute video around our house. We've wanted to view content coming from a device in one room on a screen in a different room. DLNA addresses one piece of the problem: making digitally-stored content available on any device. But what about video from legacy devices like PVRs and DVD players? DigitalDeck isn't perfect, but we wouldn't want to live without it.
Ultra Wideband (UWB) is about to go big time. Certified Wireless USB, the first volume product using WiMediaUWB, will change how you think about connecting your digital camera, iPod or phone to your PC or TV. With over 2 billion legacy wired USB connections, that's one big market! The goal of WiMedia UWB is much more than unwiring your gadgets. By 2008, it aims to be the basis for all short-distance wireless communications including wireless 1394 and high speed Bluetooth.
We have been following DigitalDeck for more than two years, and are delighted to be testing their system in our house. In a first impression, we report on a product that lets you share and play video stored on DVDs, PVRs and PCs on any TV, anywhere in the house. We also report on the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a tiny but high-quality Internet terminal.
As digital video takes its place front and center in the home, standards are needed to simplify interconnection, networking and remote operation. DLNA has been developing interoperable networking standards for some time. Now a new alliance--the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA)--is developing standards specifically for networked high-definition video. Its narrower focus and sense of urgency have led it to embrace different standards than those chosen by DLNA. Will the home need two networks for digital video?
Don't Let My TV Crash: An Interview With UpdateLogic (BBHR 4/7/2006)
Bug fixes and feature updates used to be associated with computers, not with television sets. But digital TVs have tens of megabytes of firmware--and will need updates to fix bugs, comply with changing specifications, and support emerging applications. UpdateLogic offers TV manufacturers a way to update firmware without customer intervention.
Now that the excitement and PR machine from CES have faded, we asked ourselves what products and trends will make a difference in 2006? We met with many companies including Digital Deck, Buffalo, Intel and Microsoft. For us, the big focus was progress toward how users can move content around the home, interact with and control all the entertainment devices in the home and use their content with any electronic device--both inside and outside their home. It's not a done deal yet--but we're on the way.