I want to be connected

October 29, 2009

True home connectivity could change a few more business models,

The connected home is back on the agenda as pay-TV operators look to extend the hold they have over the living room into the kitchen and back bedroom. To date take-up of so-called Multiroom services has arguably been a little on the low side, at least when compared to the delights of HD or the PVR. The name itself could arguably be said to have been at odds with the proposition, for Multiroom read Another Room, along with another €10 to see the content you have already paid for in the place of your choosing.

The option most likely to be chosen to use on a second set is the local DTT service – at least where the majority of channels are broadcast free-to-air – half of the UK’s 18 million homes have DTT on one or more second sets rather than the primary display. In addition to saving money for the subscriber it also potentially shores up the audiences to the national channels that revelled in their near-monopoly status prior to the arrival of digital TV.

Put the pay-TV operator in these multiple rooms and the viewing figures start to take another pounding. €10 might not work for one room, but what if the offer is extended to any other TV that happens to be connected, assuming the subscriber is prepared to stump up the cost of the box.

Pace this week secured a deal to put its Multiroom DVR into a clutch of independent operators in the US market. Similar product will soon be making an appearance in Europe, bringing not just the television from the front room, but also the pre-recorded content from the DVR. The Pace system relies on either co-axial cable or an Ethernet connection to link the receivers together. The alternative is the type of device proposed by Echostar, which has incorporated the Sling Media technology to transport cable or satellite signals around the house.

Earlier this month Ericsson trialled its Connected Home concept to 14 households in Northern Europe, linking a 3G handset to video and audio content both inside and outside the home. Given a reliable enough connection you can stream your favourite tracks from your house to your mobile wherever you are in the world. The key is of course good 3G coverage, something you don’t get in the air, or indeed on the rail line that runs between Cambridge and Kings Cross.

An earlier Ericsson study highlighted consumer suspicion of devices designed to replace the legions of cables that currently trail around our homes. According to the study, they are cumbersome, and often difficult to learn. DNLA is designed to solve much of this and is slowly emerging as a much needed worldwide standard.

In a ranking of concepts “TV channels wherever you are” came a surprising 14th, but Wireless Home was numero uno, followed by “Send photos from camera to hone” and “Connect MP3 to computer wirelessly”. In fact photos and personal music featured prominently in the top half of the survey. It is once again about personalisation.