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How can Residential Gateways spur Competition?

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The FCC is addressing the failure of CableCARD’s in its National Broadband Plan that takes further steps to encourage development of the Home Gateway, a device in which consumers can easily and seamlessly access video programming from all distributors.

In a proposed Network Gateway-NOI and CableCARD NPRM, the commission is seeking input on how to best rework the CableCARD rules to make Set-Top-Boxes more universal in nature and easier for consumers to connect and network throughout the home to any video provider offerings.  The question remains; is the FCC suited to take on another attempt to create competition within the Set-Top-Box market? Or should it leave this to market forces?

A Universal Provider Gateway Concept could be flawed

Most, if not all video providers want control of the user experience in their Set-Top-boxes, or proposed Gateways, and are not willing give up that control universally. That means each provider wants to create its own Gateway and harkens back to the premise of why CableCards did not work. Companies are not willing to share the proprietary customer relationship with other competitors. This is why only a few set-top boxes are in the market. Cable companies created their own devices to offer video content to customers, while investing billions to do so; but as market forces continually change the demand for a more competitive STB/Gateway continues to emerge. See (FCC to “improve” CableCARD rules this month)

A Sub-Market of Over-The-Top competitors

With the advent of Hulu, and YouTube along with NetFlix, Apple TV, Roku, Blu-Ray, and X-Box the concept of a possible competitive residential gateway, or STB if you prefer, has taken hold. Video programmers have accepted these non-traditional video providers as a new pipeline to distribute their wares. See (Park Associates Blog). But should these companies be looking to themselves to have unique home gateways built for home distribution which will connect consumers with mainstream video, Internet, and phone services? I think so, and this also means contracting with an Internet Service Provider-Video Provider-Telephony-Wireless Provider for a residential service interface to their STB. This may be easier said, than done.

Drive Private Sector competition

Near term competition does not lie in building hard-line infrastructure, although Google is testing those waters; it lies in the sub market of Over-The-Top competitors willing to create their own unique consumer experience, and compete with traditional providers with a superior customer interface that delivers video-wireless-Internet-telephony to the hardware within homes. It will not work to have a mandated universal gateway that all competitors must share. This means that competitors must contract with video programmers, wireless and telephony providers, or build their own networks to compete. Cable-Telecom providers have a huge advantage on that market segment. That is to say they have invested billions in infrastructure, hardware, wireless, and telephony products to offer consumers through their networks and STB’s. This is where potential competitors must look to have a chance at capturing an all-in-one home gateway market share. See (Hot Boxes: The Explosive Potential for Residential Gateway Devices)

Solution

View the Residential Gateway as a unique way for all providers to connect with their customers. It should be specific to the company with all the applications consumers’ demand, one that is easily interchangeable to all home hardware. This requires competitors to take on risk and invest in new ideas and concepts that will capture that market segment. As new markets unfold, the best and the brightest will be there to take advantage of any changing landscape in residential gateways to the consumer.

This again, goes back to whether the FCC should involve itself in manipulating the market to create more competition. It should encourage competition; it should incent competition within the marketplace by tearing down barriers to compete. But it should never mandate private companies to compromise their markets by opening up their STB’s, or consumer gateway.  

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How can Residential Gateways spur Competition? is a post from: The Cable Pipeline

How can Residential Gateways spur Competition? is a post from: The Cable Pipeline

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More Stories By Leonard Grace

Leonard Grace is the founder of Broadband Convergent, an industry leader tech news and analysis for Broadband, Cable, Mobile, Wireless, and Telecom markets providing strategic direction, business trending, sprinkled with lots of opinion. Technology executives must focus on key business indicators with fast, effective and researched analytics to provide leading edge decisions that propel their organizations ahead of the competition. Broadband Convergent researches the latest trends, strategy, and analysis to deliver the results executives and managers depend on to make strategic business decisions. Whether it is (to-market-strategy), the latest competitive advantage, leading edge technology or legislative updates; Broadband Convergent is on top of intelligence gathering and reporting to make industry leaders comfortable with making decisions based on our findings. Our company is a leader in providing fast, efficient, and economical insights into competitive markets, business strategies, market trends and the future outlook of the legislative landscape. Leonard has produced 250+ highly researched articles providing a unique perspective on current Broadband issues including Cable, Mobile, Wireless and Telecom sectors. His insights dig down to find the why’s and why-not’s of industry decisions and how those effect the commerce of broadband.

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