Home isn’t just where the heart is — It’s where the future growth of the cable industry lies. At least that’s what attendees at yesterday’s opening general session gleaned from the comments of Pat Esser, president at Cox Communications, and Sanjay Jha, chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility.
While some in the industry worry that the explosion of video-enabled mobile devices may steal business from cable, Jha views it as an opportunity. “In 2013, we think there will be a billion smartphones, and nearly all will be video enabled,” he said. “All of these devices have to come home. All of these devices will be close to our broadband pipe.”
But what does that mean? If such projections hold true, “the average home will have 8 to 10 devices connected to the Internet 24 hours a day,” said Esser. Households will easily consume 100 Mbps of bandwidth, and “customers will value it and pay for it,” he added.
According to Jha, customers want a home network. “They want it to be managed and supported,” he said, noting users also want it to include things like security and energy monitoring. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
To gain traction with customers in the home, cable operators must help consumers simplify, explained Cox’s Esser: “Customers are saying, ‘Hey, you cable guys, help me. I have so many sources of content and so many places to access it.” Subscribers want someone to step in, sort it out and give it to them how they like it. They also want to be remembered every time they change a device, Esser added.
“The biggest problem with the home network is that there are so many configurations in the home,” commented Jha. “No one has simplified how consumers interact with the network.”
Such home networks will require improvements in the user interface. “Customers need to be able to personalize the interface,” said Esser, and the interface needs to remember them. “If they can personalize it, they will own it with vigor and monetize it for you,” added Jha.
Wireless – Opportunity or Threat?
The economics of delivering content to all these devices that “come home” also is in cable’s favor. “The cost of delivering 1 gigabyte of data in the wireless world is 30 to 100 times higher,” Jha said. “The notion that you can deliver all of your data needs on a 4G network isn’t economical.” Nor is it physically possible.
Using Wi-Fi to move content between mobile devices is huge potential opportunity for cable. “If we can find a way to deliver Wi-Fi and connect more of these devices, we can change the way people consume content,” Jha pointed out. “I believe the best way to get content is at home, and 4G can’t deliver all the content.”
As such, Jha urged cable to “own the home network” and change its interface with the user. “Offer services like security and home monitoring,” he said, suggesting cablecos allow the network to be more open over Wi-Fi. Move content to Wi-Fi, he suggested, “but not without protection,” adding that the industry has the technology to secure content. “All of the mobile devices have to go home,” he reminded attendees. “Own the home network.”
– Jennifer Whalen