What’s Coming in Cable Tech?
by Leslie Ellis // August 27 2012
Last week’s email included one from a friend who lives on the periphery of cable technology: “I was asked recently if I’d seen cable MSOs developing any new businesses, aside from home security, Skype and business services. I couldn’t think of any others – do you know of new technical products that are in early development stage?”
Where to start? Wireless seems a good place. Ever since mobile became mobile, the world has wondered about cable’s wireless play
Wall Street wants it, but only if it doesn’t cost a fortune to build. Consumers want it, if it means taking your broadband with you, sans the $50/mo. fees charged by mobile carriers for a dongle that works half the time. Operators want it, as a way to keep customers “sticky” to them in a hyper-competitive marketplace.
Step one was the Clearwire consortium, which continues to trundle along. The bigger action, though, is in mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. East Coasters already know about this, given the cableWiFi happenings along the mid-Atlantic corridor. Cox is now on-board, so it’s a footprint that will widen.
Also of interest: Secondary SSIDs (service set identifiers) inside wireless routers, inside homes. I’m in Comcast territory, in Denver. I visit you, in another part of the country, also served by Comcast. On firing up the laptop, I’m automatically connected to your Wi-Fi feed, drawing bandwidth from a secondary SSID provisioned inside your router – but my usage counts against my account, not yours. Ultimately very handy for when high-bandwidth relatives are in town.
This hasn’t happened yet, but it’s an example of “early development stage” launches.
Then there’s the whole consumer device scene, and the APIs (application program interfaces) operators can and will use to extend their “service icons” into connected screens. Different devices contain different native abilities – witness the Cox demonstration of video navigation on a Sony PS3, which lets viewers control video playback with the joystick, frame by frame.
It’s hard to predict where and how this will go, but, it’s going. We’ve already seen our phones and tablets become the remote control for the TV. Those apps will evolve, such that you’re using the touch pad to swipe-navigate the TV screen – this is already happening in the UK, with Sky TV’s iPad app. Or using hand gestures, a la Microsoft Xbox Kinect. Or with your voice.
So, Ms. J, there’s your answer. Happy to report that we’re just warming up here. Three years ago, I’d still be staring at your mail.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.