This page references articles in our reports from 2003 to 2005 describing companies and organizations we have visited or interviewed. Many articles mention multiple companies.
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.
We came away from TelcoTV feeling that IPTV is at the tipping point. The biggest telcos are all either committed to moving forward at scale, or are close to a commitment. Their traditional vendors such as Alcatel, Lucent, Nortel and Siemens are playing a major role. Microsoft also aspires to play a key role, but was all but invisible at the show.
We interviewed Coaxsys to learn about their approach to home networking over existing coaxial cable. Many telcos think this is a good approach to connect the home gateway to IPTV set-top boxes on each TV.
Mobile broadband wireless will be a big deal over the next five years. The WiMAX promotion machine has done a good job in raising visibility of the needs and their view of solutions. If you listened carefully, the recent WiMAX World Conference provided a nuanced view of multiple solutions, more complementary than competitive. We met with many companies including Wavesat Wireless, Sierra Monolithics, Sequans, PicoChip, TeleCIS and ArrayComm. Away from the official announcements, we spotted some storm clouds on the horizon.
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.
Raising the Bar: Sprint and Cable Ops Make A Big Deal (BBHR 11/7/2005)
Now it's time for the quadruple play. Many big players are focused on integrating mobile into the bundle. An announcement about how cable operators would obtain the spectrum, mobile services and integration with their video and data businesses has ended the suspense about how they would add mobility. The recently unveiled joint venture between Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Advance/Newhouse aims to do more than just glue wireless voice onto cable's current bundle.
To provide IP-based television services, companies need a way to move video streams from the home gateway to the TV set. That's where the next generation of "whole-home wireless" technologies and products are important. Recent announcements from Ruckus Wireless, Metalink, and a big one from EWC are all pieces in the puzzle of how quickly 802.11n standards will be adopted and products get to the market.
The Open Systems Dilemma: An Interview with Minerva's Mauro Bonomi (BBHR 9/13/2005)
What's the future for a small company in IPTV, when Microsoft has decided to win the market? We interviewed Mauro Bonomi, CEO of IPTV vendor Minerva Networks, to understand how one experienced company is approaching that issue. While Mauro believes Minerva's open systems approach is best for customers, he understands the risks a big telco might see in choosing "not-Microsoft". Bonomi shared his thoughts on how the dynamics of this game might be changed.
Cable's Bandwidth Smorgasbord: More Speed and More Capacity (BBHR 7/13/2005)
With competitors trumpeting claims of super-high-speed broadband, cable companies are preparing to deploy new technologies to match or beat the claims. These can increase plant capacity both to meet tomorrow's growth needs and to increase peak speeds to satisfy their most demanding customers. But technology is only part of the equation; while the engineers do their work, there’s a big marketing job ahead. The article discusses technologies from ARRIS, Narad Networks, Xtend Networks, BigBand Networks and Broadband Physics.
"The Dawn of Mass Market Broadband Wireless" -- WCA 2005 (BBHR 7/13/2005)
WCA 2005 featured progress on WiMAX and WiBro and a healthy debate on municipal wireless. Broadband wireless access is growing rapidly and vendors are pursuing several distinct courses. While fixed WiMAX is close to certified interoperability, many companies are focused on early deployment of mobile WiMAX. The article covers technologies from Aperto Networks, Navini Networks, IPWireless, ArrayComm and Alcatel.
TV on your mobile phone? Video greeting cards? These and more were subjects of conversation at NCTA 2005, the cable industry's annual show, where the new nirvana was services delivered to the customer wherever they are, on whatever device is with them. The show floor and session topics acknowledged that the triple play is becoming yesterday's story. Tomorrow's customers have grown up in an increasingly digital world so their expectations are very different than those of their parents. Our coverage includes speeches by executives from Electronic Arts, Yahoo, Sony, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox amd Vulcan. We also reported on exhibits by Gemstar-TV Guide, Longboard, Cedar Point, ARRIS and Vibe,
Fiber Update: "Controlling Your Broadband Destiny" (BBHR 4/3/2005)
There is typically a long lag time between conceptualizing how new technologies could be used and their widespread adoption. Fiber to the home has been trumpeted as "the future of broadband access" since the mid-1980s. Current trends in customer applications, fiber system costs and competitive dynamics are finally making the decision of going to fiber a logical one, even for incumbents like Verizon. The article includes discussions of Fiber Optic Communities of the United States (FOCUS), the UTOPIA project and DynamicCity.
Since we first used Wi-Fi in our home in 2000, the technology has made fantastic strides and the latest generation of devices based on MIMO—including Belkin's Wireless Pre-N Router based on MIMO technology from Airgo Networks—is another leap forward in both throughput and range. We summarize here the results of our third round of tests of Wi-Fi devices, which showed us how far the technology has progressed.
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.
What was big at CES? Our answer is the dawning of Video-on-the-Go--what we're terming "Vidi-Go". It's logical, since mobile phones have fulfilled the "call from anywhere" promise for voice, and broadband wireless technologies like WiMAX are poised to add the "anywhere" dimension to broadband data. Video innovations like TiVo first addressed the desire for "time shifting". Vidi-Go, which addresses the desire for "place-shifting", is a natural complement. We review a raft of products we saw at CES:
For use anywhere in the world from Archos, Microsoft, Orb Networks, Sling Media, TiVo, TV2Me and Verizon Wireless.
Those that address your time spent in a car from Comcast, Delphi, DIRECTV and KVH Industries.
Those that give you flexibility to move around the home from ViXS.
For the first time SBC had a major presence at CES. The occasion was promotion of their two-pronged thrust in providing video services and the introduction of their new U-verse branding for its suite of IP-based products and services set to launch in 2005. Although lots of snazzy things were demonstrated, the crowd seemed most appreciative of a simple one--instantaneous channel changing.
CES 2005--Tomorrow's Cool Toys Need Today's Cool Chips (BBHR 1/25/2005)
Most people visit CES to look at the cool new toys. We spent much of our time talking with more than a dozen semiconductor companies--looking at chips for
powerline networking from DS2 (integrated into products from Corinex and Ilevo
Standards play a large role in the success of new technologies, and we heard a lot about new standards at CES. Some companies--including Airgo, DS2 and Freescale--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.
CES 2005--"Broadband on Steroids": New Wireless Networking Technologies (BBHR 1/25/2005)
Imagine the challenge of trying to keep two CEOs, a promoter Group Chair and a Chief at the FCC each to their allotted time slots. At CES, that was Dave's challenge in a session he organized and moderated on "Emerging Technologies". Topics included new wireless networking technologies for MANs (presented by the CEO of Wi-LAN), LANs (the CEO of Airgo) and PANs (the Chair of the Wireless USB Promoter Group) plus some views from a long time Chief at the FCC.
WCA Winter Conference--An Update on Mobile WiMAX and WiBro (BBHR 1/25/2005)
The greatest value of a show like WCA's Winter Conference is that it gathers together all the really key players at one time and place, so you can meet with them privately and learn what's really going on. We learned a lot about Mobile WiMAX and the emerging WiBro in Korea from many companies including Fujitsu Microelectronics America, Sequans Communications and TeleCIS Wireless.
It wasn't exactly an exotic vacation, but a recent trip provided us the opportunity to try out three very different forms of portable broadband based on technologies from Flarion, NextNet Wireless, and Tropos Networks. One system was designed for use in a moving vehicle; another, sporting a low entry price, for traveling to various spots around town; and a third for people in municipalities that believe portable broadband should be a public service, like roads. We saw a HomePlug wallmount Ethernet module (made by Asoka) used to extend the service to other places in the house from where the modem is positioned to receive the best signal.
What happens when a market need is there, but standards have not caught up? For some silicon vendors in the powerline communications networking arena, the pragmatic answer is to supply your solution if you think it's a good one. Then you can adapt to the standards once they are in place and responsive. We heard more about this from the CEO of DS2, which has announced their 200Mbps chip without waiting for HomePlug AV.
BitBand and FastWeb have many years experience with VOD over FTTH and ADSL. BitBand's CEO shared their thoughts from a session at the recent TelcoTV conference.
Making Things Connect: The Digital Living Network Alliance (BBHR 10/31/2004)
The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has taken on the daunting but critical role of establishing specs so that many kinds of media devices in the home can "talk" with each other over home networks. We interviewed the group's Chairman—Scott Smyers of Sony Electronics—for an update on their progress. Products based on their initial specs are being shown at trade shows, and work is under way on additional specs.
We love the concept and evidently those in Europe do too--we're talking about HomePlug. Simply plug a product into a HomePlug-equipped electrical outlet and it is networked. In a series of interviews with Arkados, Intellon and Corinex, we explored the progress on raising speeds that will be achieved over these powerline networks in the home. We also heard about how the upcoming HomePlug AV spec is being positioned as a starting point for standardizing "access BPL".
With the enormous success of home Wi-Fi, the segmentation of who bought what flavor of 802.11 had settled down: consumers bought 802.11b/g and enterprises bought 802.11a. It turns out that was just a stop along the road to full home networking of video as well as voice and data. New chips and products based on them suggest that 802.11a will be a big part of the consumer solution for video networking. We expect to see an increasing number of a/b/g devices as new networked video products hit the market. Microsoft is playing a big role in pushing it along.
Over the past year, the DSL Forum has published a set of reports defining the future evolution of DSL--and establishing a new framework for DSL to compete with cable. We interviewed some of the participants and describe the new architecture and some of the key system elements.
802.11a for Consumers: An Interview with Atheros Communications (BBHR 8/15/2004)
We met with Atheros Communications to learn about the future of 802.11a, and looked at some technology advancements for consumer applications.
"Software Based Radios" for Wireless: Interview with picoChip (BBHR 8/15/2004)
A British chip maker called picoChip has demonstrated a "software based" modem for WiMAX base stations. It got us thinking about future devices which gracefully roam between Wi-Fi, WiMAX and cellular 3G services.
The broadband wireless industry is again rising from the depths. This time it may be for keeps. Attendees at the most recent WCA 2004 show included many of "the big boys" and FCC Commissioners and staff made their presence and interest widely apparent. Within a group previously focused on fixed broadband wireless, changes from earlier shows included the huge momentum around WiMAX and the promise of mobility.
Talks by FCC Chairman Michael Powell and wireless pioneer Craig McCaw
FCC Commissioners and senior FCC staff talking about expanded spectrum for wireless
The current status of WiMAX and other fixed and mobile wireless technologies from Airspan. Alvarion, Clearwire, Intel, IPWireless, Motorola, Nextnet Wireless and Redline.
The emergence of "broadband anywhere" and "portable broadband"
Telephone companies and cable operators in the US have exploited their connection into the home to provide broadband, but electric utilities have not. Over the past year, US focus has significantly increased on utility deployment of Broadband over Powerline (BPL) as a possible competitive "third wire". To get beneath the surface hype, we visited several BPL deployments and met with insiders from utilities, vendors and industry associations. We describe what we learned in a four-part survey.
Part 1 provides an overview of BPL, our tentative conclusions and a definition of industry jargon.
Jackson, Tennessee is known to some as the home of railroading's "Casey" Jones, but Jackson Energy Authority is making "fiber to the home" its new emblem. We visited in person to find out why this municipally-centered public utility decided on fiber, to see how the rollout is proceeding and take the pulse of how its residents are reacting to the new services. We especially wanted to learn "why fiber?" in a community that already has incumbents providing high speed data, voice and video services. We discuss the roles played by Wave7 Optics and Aeneas, and competition with Charter Cable.
The 2004 NCTA Show demonstrated cable operators' interesting problem. Their rebuilt plants are capable of providing a multiplicity of services and the technologies that have been "coming soon" are finally ready for prime time. Now the big question is what share of resources should go to each of these opportunities? We highlight a few of the newer opportunities, including VoIP, multi-room DVRs and PacketCable Multimedia-based services like videotelephony.
Referenced companies include Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Motorola, Ucentric, Scientific-Atlanta, Digeo, Ellacoya, Cisco, Arris, Advanced Digital Broadcast, Visionetics, Worldgate, SightSpeed, Clique Video and Globalstreams.
With cable operators increasingly attacking telephone companies core voice revenues, there has been much discussion of how telephone companies can go after TV services. Increasing DSL speeds and some moves to fiber make telco video services more feasible. We interviewed Roy Sherbo of MTS in Canada to see how one telco TV rollout has progressed during its first two years.
Powerline networking seems like a natural for home networking, yet it has been eclipsed by the tremendous success of Wi-Fi. The recent purchase by Intellon of its competitor Cogency made us wonder how the combined company is planning to grow their chips into a major force in the market. Our interview with Intellon CEO Charlie Harris and President Ron Glibbery provided a sense for their plans going forward.
In less than a decade, voice over IP has gone from a hobbyist toy to a threat to the future existence of incumbent telephone companies. In that light, it was fitting for Jeff Pulver to open this year's VON conference by talking about our ability to change the world. We take a look back at the signs that pointed the way to this VoIP future and examine a few of the companies that are trying to make their mark on the next stage.
Referenced companies include Vonage, CallVantage, BroadVoice, Grandstream Networks, Global IP Sound and Microsoft.
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. Richard Shockey of Neustar explained how ENUM bridges the gap by translating any phone number to a SIP address.
The Changing Face of Entertainment -- FastNet Futures 2004 (BBHR 4/26/2004)
There's a constant flow of announcements about new products and services that promise to improve our ability to get the entertainment we want, when and where we want it. These include new digital media adapters, entertainment PCs, broadband movie and music services and portable flat screen TVs. With all these individual announcements, it's difficult to see the big picture of how these ingredients will come together to create the easy-to-use experiences consumers are looking for. At FastNet Futures, we pulled together experts from Intel, Bermai Networks, and Pioneer Electronics to explore key efforts to bring coherence to this still-emerging market.
2Wire has grown from a start-up provider of residential gateways to an established supplier to telephone companies like SBC and British Telecom. Part of their success has come from adapting their product plans to the realities and needs of the market. As their telephone company customers face increasing US competition from cable's "triple play," 2Wire has created a quickly-deployable solution to integrate the video experience telcos provide by combining DSL and satellite. We met with Brian Sugar to learn more about this latest direction.
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.
We went to EH Expo earlier this month and were surprised at first by how little has changed in the two years since we last went to this show. While IP-based home networking dominates the planning of the PC and consumer electronics industries, most vendors and integrators at EHX still think in terms of proprietary products and single-purpose networks. The move toward openness, integration and more use of IP communications seems inevitable, and we did see a few "points of light".
Referenced companies include The Broadband Group, Newland Communities, Leviton, OnQ, Netstreams, D&H Distributing, OmniFi, Intel and Creative Labs.
Last month we described Get Digital's service converting CD collections to compressed digital audio formats. This month we report on how it works in practice. We found the "metadata" to be the most important part of their service, and they did very well indeed.
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.
Referenced companies include AT&T, D-Link, Vibe Phone, snom, Microsoft, FastWeb and VTech.
We are updating our earlier evaluation of Wi-Fi products, testing access points and notebook adapters from Linksys and SMC with all three "flavors" of Wi-Fi. Our first report on Round Two establishes a "baseline" for the maximum throughput for each technology. We've seen improvements since our first tests, especially in 802.11g.
Digital media adapters, MP3 players and portable music jukeboxes all start from the assumption that your music is conveniently ready for transfer from the hard drive of your PC. But most people's music is currently only on their CDs -- not in their computers. The "do-it-yourself" route is one solution. For those whose time is in short supply, a company named Get Digital provides an alternate approach.
HomePNA 3.0 advocates believe that this technology has some strong selling points, including speed, QoS and the ability to run on coax as well as phone lines. We had a brief update from CopperGate Communications--a company making chips for it; they said products will be ready in 1H04.
At CES it's getting harder and harder to separate the PC and consumer electronics worlds and the manufacturers who participate in them. With Microsoft and Intel talking about watches, telephones, cameras and TV screens, more processing, storage and networking are appearing in increasing numbers of devices. Last year, we heard promises that PCs and home networks would soon be connected with audio and video entertainment. This year, we saw lots of products that customers can buy now, with many more coming soon such as Shell HomeGenie, a new home management system. We'll need a new vocabulary to name some of these new devices.
The long heralded marriage of the PC and the TV is on the horizon; products enabling a cozy relationship are here today. Digital Media Adapters (DMAs) and their relatives are now undergoing a wave of experimentation and innovation to find the features, functions and pricing for devices that bridge the PC and home entertainment. Standards are on the horizon. While confusing today, winners will emerge; this category has a bright future.
Referenced companies include Actiontec Electronics, Gateway, Hauppauge Computer Works, HP, Linksys, PRISMIQ, RealNetworks, ReplayTV, Rockford Omnifi, SimpleDevices, Roku, SMC, TiVo, Turtle Beach, Video Without Boundaries, CAC Media, DigitalDeck, Denon Electronics, Mediabolic, Microsoft, Ucentric Systems, Samsung, Voom, OpenTV, NDS, CEA, DHWG, Intel, Sony and Samsung.
When we agreed to act as broadband architects for the Home by Design showhouse, our goal was to demonstrate the ideas we write about and get more hands-on experience in the realities of implementing broadband infrastructure, home networking and a wide variety of interesting and useful applications on a host of products that can be bought today. We packed lots of experience into a short time and share some of what we did and learned from it in this abbreviated version of "our broadband odyssey".
Referenced companies include Cox Communications, Corning, Wave7 Optics, Panasonic, Leviton, Viewsonic, SMC, HomePlug, Asoka, Gateway, Hilltop Development, Nevada Power, Square D, Green Design, Dell, Scientific-Atlanta, NEC and Roku.
Wireless Video Networking -- Update on Bermai and ViXS (BBHR 1/22/2004)
With growth of flat screens and HDTV on the upswing, the quest for wireless video networking has taken on greater importance. The ideal is to be able to create home networks that carry multiple channels of high quality video plus other data and voice traffic wirelessly, not just within rooms but around the home. At CES we got an update on Bermai and ViXS, two companies that are trying to satisfy these wireless video networking needs.
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.
Fiber To Every Home In Reykjavik: A Guest Article by Hjalmar Gislason (BBHR 12/14/2003)
Reykjavik Energy has ambitious plans: to connect every home in its area with a fiber connection. The results of their initial trial in 100 homes were shared last month at the Digital Reykjavik conference; the trial uses a "self-service portal" designed by fiber-optic consultancy company Industria. In this guest article, a conference organizer says that if the rollout goes forward, Iceland will be "a living laboratory for broadband" delivered to a whole society.
DigitalDeck -- Another Piece of the "Whole Home Networking" Puzzle (BBHR 12/14/2003)
The emerging world of "whole home networking" is like a big jigsaw puzzle with lots of pieces including a wide variety of current and emerging networking technologies. DigitalDeck is working on a key piece -- it manages all the content and moves it around the house from whereever it is stored to wherever you want to view it. We interviewed their VP of Strategic Development and saw an impressive demo.
Thomson is a major player in film and television production, distribution and home video reception. With the introduction of a new family of IP-TV set-top boxes based on advanced compression technologies, it is providing telcos with a strong argument for moving fast with TV services over existing ADSL networks.
In the US this month, there suddenly seemed to be that confluence of events that marks the tipping point for a technology. Local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers and cable companies all announced new VoIP services.
Referenced companies include AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Qwest Communications, SBC Communications, Sprint , Time Warner Cable and Vonage.
"Share Your Broadband" -- An Interview with MyZones WiFi Broadband (BBHR 11/16/2003)
MyZones, a UK company offering services based on networked authentication of home Wi-Fi networks, has announced a bundled deal with Bulldog, an alternative DSL provider, encouraging users to share their broadband connections and costs with their flatmates, friends and neighbors. We talked with MyZones' CEO and understood the appeal of this service.
Following the recent announcement of a deal between Appairent and Pulse~LINK, two companies working on next-generation wireless technologies, we looked into several emerging wireless networking technologies targeted at high-definition television and "whole-home" networking. While 802.11n will leverage the Wi-Fi bandwagon, several technologies based on 802.15 may get to market first--and be the winners.
As another facet of the "whole home networking" story, we interviewed two officers of Entropic Communications, a start-up developing a home-networking system operating over existing coaxial cable. It will complement wireless networking to form a complete solution.
Spain Plugs Into Broadband: A Guest Article by Antonio Gomez (BBHR 11/16/2003)
Spanish electric utilities, together with the telecommunications operators in which they are stockholders, have started rolling out services based on Power Line Communications, to provide a serious alternative for broadband. The regulatory commission granted licenses to Spain's three main electric companies to offer voice and data services over their grids, and determined the companies must offer service to at least 40% of their customers prior to October, 2005. Our guest author from Tecnocom describes the commercial offering by Iberdrola, Spain’s second electric company, based on technology from Barcelona-based DS2. He sees PLC's role as both a competitively-priced broadband alternative and as a new driver in the digitalization of the country.
Although we didn't make it to the FTTH Conference held earlier this month, we heard about the growing enthusiasm for fiber to the premises coming out of the conference. Telephone companies all over the world are starting to deploy deep fiber, and three of the four US RBOCs are collaborating on FTTP specifications and product evaluation. To gain a better understanding of these issues, we interviewed Corning, the leading fiber provider; Wave7 Optics, an FTTP system provider; and Jackson Energy Authority, a municipal utility committed to rolling out FTTH.
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.
Broadband Central -- More on Wi-Fi for Wireless Broadband Access (BBHR 10/20/2003)
We're big fans of finding ways to bring broadband to unserved communities. Broadband Central's goal is to do just that. While we are bullish about the future of broadband wireless, to date we have not seen systems based on Wi-Fi that meet the requirements for creating expandable, reliable wide-area broadband services. Our recent interview with Broadband Central didn't provide the facts to convince us that they have overcome the technical and business hurdles that concern us.
Like other new digital devices, you have to use a Smart Display for a while to learn where it fits. Only when our ViewSonic V110 stopped working did we realize it had become part of our lifestyle.
Broadband World Forum -- It Takes More Than Bandwidth (BBHR 9/23/2003)
Depending on your perspective, the message you heard at Broadband World Forum might have been that "things are great in DSL-land". Then again, it might have been that service providers are struggling to come up with compelling business models to mine the value from their broadband investments. DSL-based service providers and suppliers from throughout Europe, North America, and Asia were on the program, with major representation from incumbents and a more modest presence of competitive carriers and non-DSL broadband players. We were delighted to meet many of our readers both as speakers and attendees.
Referenced companies include KT, Jungo, Versatel, Cirpack, TI, Alcatel, Cybercity, Fastweb and Free Telecom.
Tremendous changes have taken place in the UK broadband scene during the three years since our last extended visit. Although "Broadband Britain" is still more a goal than a reality, the progress is undeniable. We share a few impressions of the changes, plus what we heard in meetings with three distinctly different broadband service providers.
Referenced companies include Telewest, BT and SatDrive.
During our June visit to Spain, Telefónica showed us their "Hogar Digital" and their trial of home-based health services in operation today with actual patients. This guest article provides an overview of the project’s goals and its conclusions to date. The application is based on an OSGi gateway in the patient's home.
Celeria: Wireless Access To Cable Networks: A Guest Article by Inés Vidal Castiñeira (BBHR 8/21/2003)
During our recent visit to Spain, we heard about Euskaltel’s Celeria Project. We invited Inés Vidal Castiñeira to share with you the Technology Department’s approach to providing triple-play services to low population density areas. Although Euskaltel already had a fiber ring infrastructure from which they reached end users with HFC and twisted pair, this approach was not cost effective for serving small municipalities. Instead, they developed a wireless approach to deliver digital video, cable modem and voice services to these customers, using technologies from IKUSI and Nuera.
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.
Referenced companies include SBC, Verizon, IP Mobile, IPWireless, Alvarion, Navini Networks, Fujitsu, Arraycomm and Flarion.
Free Telecom, the largest French ISP after France Telecom, has announced free VoIP service for its DSL customers through the end of 2003, and very low rates thereafter. It's the latest example of "disruptive technology in action". Free is using voice switching technology from Cirpack.
Repurposing Broadband: Home Health Technologies for the Worldwide Age Wave - A Guest Article by Eric Dishman (BBHR 7/15/2003)
While Intel was studying broadband early adopters and their uses of digital entertainment, they found many participants who wanted Intel to address a different and more troubling problem: the pressures of dealing with health problems of their spouses and parents kept bubbling to the surface. Eric Dishman reports on Intel's progress in understanding what needs home health innovations should address and their experience in prototyping “smart home” systems to help address them. In early 2004, these systems will move from the lab and into the lives of real elders and their caregivers.
With our everyday lives becoming ever more dependent on technology, we're great fans of companies that devote resources to design products so they can be used by "real people". We've found only a few places doing such work--including Intel--and want to sing their praises. Please tell us about ones we're missing so we can point to more of them.
Broadband Home Labs - "Smart Displays" and Nevo Remote Control (BBHR 7/15/2003)
We report on our tests of two Smart Displays: ViewSonic's airPanel V110 and V150. The latter includes Nevo for Smart Displays, a universal remote control from Universal Electronics. Our bottom line is that while we were impressed, some improvements would make us more eager to go buy one for ourselves. Unlike our broadband connection, PVRs, Audiotron and digital camera, this hasn't yet met our "we can't live without it" test.
Over the past two years the idea of sending digital audio over a home network to your analog speakers has gone from "far-out" to products people will be able to buy affordably; although mass market adoption will take some time, the technical and ease-of-use factors for audio are in reach. The next problem--as yet unsolved--is wireless distribution of high-quality video. We're hearing from companies like ViXS and Bermai that the upcoming CES Show in January may make clearer what solutions the consumer electronics companies will decide on.
"Wireless Is Magic" -- Our Evaluation of 802.11g Wi-Fi (BBHR 6/17/2003)
Our first evaluation report on Wi-Fi products covers 802.11g access points and notebook adapters from Buffalo Technology and Linksys based on Broadcom's "54g" chip set. Wi-Fi has come a long way since the original 802.11b technology and our experience with current versions is much improved over early products. But we don't think 802.11g yet fulfills all the promises that have been made.
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. We report on talks by speakers from Bell Canada, Hanaro Telecom, Philips and Sony.
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. We report on meetings with Afitel, Aggaros, Altran SDB, Casadomo Soluciones, Euskaltel, Tecnocom and Telefónica.
We're now testing two Smart Displays: ViewSonic's airPanel V110 and V150. The latter includes Nevo for Smart Displays, a universal remote control from Universal Electronics.
Energy Management - "Broadband Without Internet": A Guest Article by Mark Francisco (BBHR 5/14/2003)
Mark Francisco of Comcast writes about Comcast's ongoing trial of energy management services in collaboration with the electrical utility PECO Energy Company and Invensys. This is an example of a “Broadband without Internet” application which requires a persistent broadband connection but does not require high speed or other features associated with the Internet.
Broadband Wireless World - The "Big Boys" Have Arrived (BBHR 5/14/2003)
Last month's Broadband Wireless World was a fascinating mix of WISPs serving rural America, independent telcos, vendors large and small, and mega-players like Intel and Verizon. Although there was plenty of focus on Wi-Fi and the use of unlicensed spectrum, there was also a growing focus on other standards like 802.16 and licensed frequencies, particularly by the established players.
Chip companies have the unenviable task of forecasting the future, so their silicon can be ready for not-yet-designed products and services. One way we get a view of the future is to see where companies like Broadcom are putting their resources, and speaking with their leaders to understand why. Broadcom is placing resources behind wireless networking because they believe it will be embedded into many consumer products based on systems-on-a-chip. They want to be ready with all the pieces to create those systems.
Power Line Communications has always held the promise of providing a third broadband wire into consumer's homes. Although it has gained some traction in Europe, the US power grid structure makes deployment more difficult. A one-day Columbia University-sponsored update on the technology and deployment status in the U.S. revealed some strengths and progress. We saw presentations from companies including PPL Telecom, Main.net, Amperion and Enikia. Our bottom line is that PLC access works, but big hurdles remain to make it a major business.
The past thirty years have seen mobile telephony move from the first public call to having more mobile subscribers in the world than wireline phone subscribers. During a conference panel we organized called "Wireless: The Road To Broadband Anywhere", four industry leaders -- representing ArrayComm, Bay Area Research Wireless Network, Intel and IPWireless -- discussed the evolution path for providing broadband not just to homes and offices, but to people who want information, communications and entertainment wherever they may be.
We attended our first Voice on the Net (VON) conference almost six years ago. Our recent visit gave us an opportunity to see how VoIP has moved from the hobbyist market to the mainstream, with low-cost IP phones on the horizon. We reported on Broadcom, Global IP Sound, Grandstream Networks, Intertex, Microsoft and Samsung.
North American cable operators have long wanted to break the grip of their two principal vendors, who control the "conditional access" systems used to encrypt premium services. Sony's new Passage system offers them a way out -- and the potential for a competitive set-top box market.
SercoNet, a startup company with a novel approach to home networking, has launched its NetHome system providing standard Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking over existing home telephone wiring, while simultaneously carrying two analog phone lines. We talked with SercoNet's CEO about its strategy and direction.
Clearwire in Jacksonville: A Wireless Case Study in Progess (BBHR 3/17/2003)
The words "broadband" and "wireless" are appearing together with increasing frequency. In the US and many other places, DSL and cable remain the major paths for delivering broadband services to consumers. Clearwire's launch in Jacksonville, Florida using technology from IPWireless provides an opportunity to see what happens when broadband wireless is introduced in a city where both cable and DSL services have been available for some time to many of the residents. We visited to see how they are doing.
Competitive carriers are not the only ones using broadband wireless. BellSouth is trialing broadband wireless technology from Navini Networks for "DSL extension" in Daytona Florida. We interviewed the trial director.
We visited FastWeb in Milan two years ago and concluded they were leading the way into the future of converged services. We followed up to understand their new offerings and the impact on results. FastWeb has exceeded its financial and market targets while continuing to introduce innovative services including VOD, video communications and networked PVR.
We report on our continuing tests of SIP-based IP telephony using VoIP phones from snom and Windows Messenger. We invite our readers to participate in our tests.
A Different Approach to DSL - An Interview with Celite Systems (BBHR 3/17/2003)
We interviewed Celite Systems, whose approach to broadband over phone lines combines traditional DSL and cable approaches. The company says their technology allows faster and less costly broadband deployment for facilities-based telcos.
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 -- including Arraycomm, Clearwire, Flarion, Hanaro Telecom, IPWireless, KT, Navini and Xtratyme -- 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.
Even though the standard isn't expected to be approved until this summer, several companies have started shipping 802.11g products. Since we think 11g will redefine Wi-Fi, we interviewed several key players including Broadcom and Intersil and bought Linksys equipment to test.
Applications: Downloading Music and Burning CDs - Legally (BBHR 2/23/2003)
We've enjoyed listening to music on our PCs and digital music players. We've added to our enjoyment by learning how to find and download CDs -- legally -- using Listen.com's Rhapsody service, Gracenote's CDDB online data base and a Turtle Beach AudioTron networked digital music player.
We report on our experience using DigitalVoice, a low-cost IP telephony service from Vonage, for most of our phone calls during the past few months. It's the first of several reports on SIP telephony for the home.
It's natural to focus on the "toys" at CES -- the products which are the result of all the new technologies being developed. But underneath these products are the critical chips that make possible the small form factors, low power consumption, reliable data communication and consumer-priced products. We visited with National Semiconductor, Transmeta, Intersil, ViXS, Cogency and Phonex to look under the covers and judge what's coming next.
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. The article discusses service providers BellSouth, Clearwire Technologies, MVS Comunicaciones, Sprint, Verizon, Walker Wireless and Xtratyme; and technology providers Advanced Radio Cells Inc., ArrayComm, BeamReach Networks, IPWireless, Navini Networks and NextNet Wireless.