Applications & the Next Generation Network


Applications & the Next Generation Network

By Hunter Newby, CEO  |  August 10, 2010

Forget voice, it is part of video. Forget having to be in front of your TV to watch video. Now there is mobile broadband and because of that there are Slingbox and SlingPlayer Mobile, which deliver your favorite shows and content, in HD, over the Internet.

Here are a few simple observations about what this is and what it will do to what we know.

First, with the advent of the DVR, time shifting has become a reality. If life is but a dream, then we now have control over what happens and when. Reality may very well be a place and time, or a place in time and, if it is the latter, then we have the ability to create our own moment and be in it – virtually. The Slingbox and SlingPlayer Mobile take this concept to a new level, dimension, universe, etc.

Second, the concept of having to view anything at home where your big screen HDTV is mounted to a wall becomes of less importance, or totally irrelevant, if your HD monitor, or device will do for you wherever you are. Presumably, given that mobile is booming, people prefer the benefit of mobility and they will accept just about anything – even frequently dropped calls – for the ability to have a media session (voice call, video chat, whatever) while they are wherever they are.

Third, if you can watch whatever is on your home DVR, or better yet live HDTV on your iPad, or whatever wherever you are, then the broadcasting companies have lost total control of advertising as it relates to geography. This has huge implications. One example is sports blackouts. Often local TV stations will not carry a local team game to force local people to go to the game to see it, or a particular company owns the rights to the broadcasting and will not allow it to be shown in that area. The entire concept of area is gone. Anyone with Wi-Fi or 3G can go to any bar and turn it in to a sports bar. They can watch their local team, or any team, and they can do so right where they are sitting – no need to strain to look at a TV hanging over the bar in the distance.

Fourth, as this really catches on what will happen to the underlying broadband networks? Not only is the HD video being sent to the home HDTVs and DVRs, it is now being sent back up and out the Internet connection, across the Internet (probably/hopefully as a direct IP peering link) to the mobile broadband provider’s network and then to the end user’s device. Wow! If you thought YouTube (News - Alert) was groundbreaking, if you thought Hulu was revolutionizing video, this is going to cause havoc for network operators.

As history repeats itself, why then should this incredible technology be any different than, say, international wholesale voice? If it in fact follows in the same footsteps, then what will happen next is that there will be a Slingbox Video Bureau, sort of like an Arbinet (News - Alert), where users can register and then subscribe to the central body that has HD feeds from every network in the world as well as every movie ever made on DVR.

Today, the people living in New York that have FiOS (News - Alert) can’t view any New York Rangers ice hockey games because Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden and the MSG Network that broadcasts the games. That is not so good for Rangers fans, and it is what Cablevision uses to keep people from switching to Verizon (News - Alert). What if you had FiOS, but also the password for a friend’s Slingbox that had Cablevision? You could watch the Rangers game in your house over your mobile broadband connection. That is the business of the Slingbox Video Bureau. It is technological arbitrage, just like international voice wholesalers. This is inevitable and unstoppable.

Separating out applications and their uses from the reality of the network and its ability to support the demand creates a chasm. The demand for such a service once it is understood and widely adopted instantly exceeds the ability to supply the users. There is just not enough 3G wireless coverage, let alone 4G. What will come of all of this is to be determined, but one thing is clear, at least from here on out: The applications will drive the demand and business case for physical, transport and transit layer networks instead of it being the other way around. Build it and they will come is yesterday’s news – now it is “Build it, they are all waiting”.

Hunter Newby (News - Alert), CEO Allied Fiber writes the VoIPeering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi