Tradition has it that a British band played "The World Turned Upside Down" when General Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown. The implication is that the world, indeed, had gone awry when a band of ragtag colonials, albeit with the help of the French army, could defeat British regulars.
Cable people might want to hum a few bars as they read the following unsolicited testimonial from a Northern New Jersey Verizon FiOS subscriber:
"The interesting thing I wanted to note was they actually ran all new cable; they didn’t use the existing coax. When I asked about it, they said, ‘Your coax is kind of old – there are a lot of bridges and stuff like that, so we’re just going to run new coax.’ They really play up that their quality is better. It’s the same compression algorithms. The only thing that’s different is the transport medium. What they’re saying is that if you upgraded your wiring in your house, you’d probably get better video quality. I think between the overall video quality and the quality of their MoCA network, I really haven’t had any problems with the video. The Internet service is a little flaky … when I send a lot of data, it gets clogged or something, (but) the video service has been flawless, and they keep on upgrading it in terms of the user interface and the usability of the service and stuff like that. It’s much better than what I’ve seen being a Comcast user for many years."
As mentioned, this was an unsolicited testimonial. It was also evidence that what was being espoused a year ago at a NXTComm panel session in Chicago is coming true. During that session, Tushar Saxena, director of customer premises architecture at Verizon Communications, said, "The last hundred feet, your home network, is extremely important."
Saxena insisted that there had been a "change in the mindset at Verizon" and a desire to look into ways to efficiently handle high bandwidth – read that high definition – content on the home network as well as the outside plant. The network, he said, was a given, but "the home network looks like a bottleneck."
Breaking that bottleneck – or never letting it happen – seems to be accomplished. Vendors assure carriers now that their gear, whether running over powerlines, twisted-pair or coax, or even wirelessly, can deliver anything. Again, according to the unsolicited testimonial, this appears to be the case.
With the home network more or less under control, the telcos can now take the next step and add the mobile wireless network via a strategically located femtocell. If all goes well, that femto will sit right inside the same router that that’s already delivering video, data and wireless throughout the residence.
It’s been said that a man’s home is his castle. Today that castle is an electronic mosh pit: computers and TV sets and cell phones and cordless phones and stereos and routers. There’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and coax and maybe even home networks like powerline or MoCA or HomePNA. The castle dweller wants to be able to talk on his phone, mobile or corded; watch TV in the den or living room or bedroom; and get a high-speed data connection either via a wire or portably anywhere in the residence. That’s a complex wish list. It’s probably the homeowner’s responsibility, but how many homeowners can – or want to – make it all work?
Tracking back to the historical reference, it’s also tradition that the British were not so much defeated by Washington’s acumen or the fearsome French as they were victims of their own overconfidence; of having successfully done things their way for so long they had no room to consider other ways; and of badly underestimating the competition.
It seems now, listening to cable earnings announcements, that the industry no longer underestimates its competition. Whether it’s willing – or able – to change to meet that competition is still to be seen.
Jim Barthold is a contributor to Communications Technology. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.