Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Goin' Mobile - Speeds and Content

Some quick notes on the expanding mobile broadband/online video front -

The last leg in mobile broadband for most people will be their home, office, or public WiFi loop.  Telecomm research from the Dell'Oro Group note that the wireless LAN market (i.e. WiFi) grew 17% in 2012.  But even more significantly, the new 802.11ac standard, which offers speeds up to 1 Gigabit/second data rates will be increasingly available on hardware devices this year - contributing to a convergence of wired and wireless data speeds.

There's a massive data speed war in Japan, with multiple operators offering 1 Gbps services over fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks, and one operator announcing the rollout of the Nuro 2Gbps FTTH residential service.  So-Net's initial pricing for 2Gbps runs around $50 a month, significantly lower than competing 1 Gpbs services. Meanwhile, Japan telco NTT is said to be working on a 10Gbps residential network, to be available in a few years. 1 Gbps networks are popping up sporadically in the U.S. and Western Europe - Google's test markets offer 1 Gbps data plus multichannel video at around $100-150, and independent 1 Gbps network operators are pricing their services at $200-250 per month.  For most potential residential subscribers, there is little noticeable difference between 2 Gbps and 1 Gbps top data speeds, or for that matter 100 Mbps (corrected  from Gbps) speeds, so there is minimal incentive to switch to ultra-broadband services - aside from bragging rights, and price.  So many analysts are cautious about the rush to ultra-fast broadband, wondering if the cost of upgrading network speeds is recoverable from residential subscription fees.

On the content front, research from ABI is predicting substantial growth in use of the movie industry's UltraViolet "content locker" initiative.  Ultraviolet offers those with accounts online access to selected movies they've purchased on home media and registered with the service.  Ultraviolet currently has 6-8 million accounts; ABI estimates that the global market is likely to reach 65 million users (100 million if several major movie distributors join the program).  What's holding up growth at the moment, the report concludes, are consumer attitudes about trust and usability.
Consumers don’t yet trust the concept, with most still opting for subscription and digital content rental services such as Netflix and Hulu. “The ease of accessing and storing digital video libraries must approach that of digital music,” noted ABI practice director Sam Rosen.

Sources -  Wireless LAN Market on Fire,  CableFAX Tech
Broadband operators must beware the dangers of FTTH 'speed race',  telecoms.com
ABI: UltraViolet Could Radiate 65 Million Accounts… or More,  CableFAX Tech

Edited to correct typo in broadband speeds in middle story.

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