OUR TECH OPINIONS

 

The advent of fibre to the home (FTTH) and near ubiquitous availability of wireless broadband services has heralded the arrival of superfast, convenient, and flexible home networks. The fantastic potential of digital homes has attracted the attention of broadcasters and TV operators, IT and consumer electronics manufacturers, and the internet industries. The arrival of high speed home networks represents an unmissable opportunity for telecom operators to expand home services based on their advantages in the home broadband access market.

 

The digital home services provided by telecom operators cover two distinct areas: home theatre and entertainment, and the Smart Home.

Home Theatre & Entertainment

 

The home theatre and entertainment field focusses on the large-screen TV in the living room as the main consumer interface device for a range of services from live broadcast TV to long-tail, such as video-on-demand, interactive games, and information acquisition. With the popularity of large-screen LCD TVs and improvements in screen resolution, HD video content has already become a mainstream reality. Video content with a resolutions of 4K or higher are currently at the premium end in consumer electronics. However, the electronics industry moves so quickly that 4K will become mainstream in a few short years.

 

In addition to improvements in large screen technology, we’re also seeing a trend towards content shifting. Where home entertainment can be viewed on a variety of devices such as tablets and smartphones in different locations.

 

With the popularity of broadband networks and multi-screen devices, OTT video services have developed rapidly around the world, challenging the IPTV services provided by carriers. OTT internet video services enjoy a superior multi-screen service experience with access to greater volumes of content than traditional televisions. The number of paid TV users around the world is growing albeit quite slowly, while the number of OTT TV users is growing rapidly. From 2012 to 2017, it is expected that the compound annual growth rate of paid TV subscriptions will be about four percent, while that of OTT TV subscribers will reach 14-15 percent over the same period.

 

Telecom operators are undoubtedly facing a challenge from OTT players in the field of home theatre and entertainment, however, challenges always come hand in hand with opportunities. Operators should therefore focus on the following:

 

  • Integrating OTT with IPTV: Phase 1 would see the introduction of OTT to enrich IPTV content, employing an internet business mode to improve service operation; Phase 2 sees the expansion of the integration between IPTV and OTT, and the construction of a completely open IP video ecosystem, and a strengthening of control over the OTT industry chain with the introduction of content delivery networks (CDN) technology.

 

  • Accelerating service upgrades, improving service experience, and carrying out the integration with terminals, while enriching service applications and increasing sources of revenues. Operators wil introduce 4K HD content to improve the TV video experience, enrich content sources, (especially HD content sources). They will also optimise electronic programme guides (EPGs), using multi-screen integration and content sharing to provide a unified portal interface to ensure users have the same experience with the same content; cooperate with service providers to provide IPTV platform-based value-added applications and value-added services, such as TV video communication and cloud storage.

Smart Home

 

The Smart Home includes home security, home energy management, home automation, and other features. In the M-ICT era, as a result of highly available network connections both inside and outside the home, the development of the Smart Home features the following:

 

  • Service networking: More and more Smart Home services are provided over the internet. After buying a product from an online retailer or supermarket, a customer can subscribe to a service over the network at home. This internet-based service mode allows more medium and small-sized manufacturers to enter the market and provide their products and services at very low costs. This service mode also enriches Smart Home applications and helps expand the market.

 

  • Smartphones provide service access: Household members should be able to use Smart Home services anytime and anywhere. The popularity of smartphones means subscribers can take advantage Smart Home services after downloading the relevant app. This greatly improves the user experience and ensures that smartphones are the main access device for Smart Home services.

 

Carriers will undoubtedly play a central role in the development and operation of the Smart Home and should focus their energies on the following two key areas:

 

  • Home security: In recent years, many medium and small-sized manufacturers have launched internet-based home security services, covering home monitoring and anti-theft functions. However, these home security applications have shortcomings in terms of service, maintenance, and security which provide opportunities for carriers to enter the home security market. Telecom operators can provide an integrated solution, and also provide a unified service under their own brand.

 

  • Home automation: In recent years, short-distance wireless technologies including Wi-Fi, ZigBee/Zwave, Bluetooth, and NFC, have become increasingly robust and provide the foundation for the networking of home appliances. For example, ZigBee is widely applied to lighting control, door access control, and meter reading, while Wi-Fi is used on a large scale in TVs, air-conditioners, and refrigerators. Home automation is increasingly transitioning away from a closed development environment to an open one, where more and more developers can develop and release home automation applications.

 

In order to promote Smart Home services carriers would be well-placed to establish a core platform and/or form industry alliances. Subscribers obtain different Smart Home services by downloading the corresponding service from an app store to their own smart terminal device. A unified service platform would enable carriers to aggregate the supply chain, develop their service brands, and realise their core values.


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