As the home communication environment becomes more connected, consumers are increasingly interested in more interdependent, blended services -- those that can be delivered over any medium (i.e., delivery-medium agnostic) so consumers can receive content everywhere.
…no connected home offering will be perceived as complete by consumers if it lacks a wireless component.
Program Manager, Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan
A good example of this is the AT&T Mobile U-verse application that allows users to download video content via certain mobile devices (the iPhone and BlackBerry Torch, for now) and watch it wherever they happen to be. As far as the user is concerned, the product is video content, and the device is no longer that important.
The ultimate end game for this evolution is a set of communication services that merge with the subscriber’s living space in a way that facilitates everyday functions, and consumers are not even aware they are using it, in many instances.
This connected home services environment is beginning to define consumer expectations and value perceptions. Largely in recognition of the power of this vision, Frost & Sullivan/Stratecast has launched a new Connected Home practice devoted to tracking developments in the evolution of the consumer market. Our research has already led to some rather startling findings. One, in particular, is the degree to which the connected home environment is dependent on wireless technology.
The connected home, as the following figure illustrates, represents the intersection of four formerly discrete domains: content, home networks, communications services and telemetry. Wireless plays a part in each of these areas.
In terms of communication services, the connection is obvious. Wireless is a primary component of integrated services offerings like the "quadruple play," which also includes voice, video and data offerings. Increasingly, consumers choose to access their world through mobile devices. In the future, such mobility will enable the connected home to extend to any place the consumer happens to be, allowing the consumer to interact with the home environment and access connected home services regardless of location.
Telemetry is also growing in importance to the connected home, as home services like power management and security become integrated with other communication services. In the future, these services will include wireless medical telemetry services to deliver health care and monitor patients remotely, and machine-to-machine (M2M) services in intelligent major appliances and vehicles. Wireless enables these functions by providing a communication path from telemetric sensors to the home network and to remote monitors.
Home networking is an obvious place where wireless technology is already a big player. Wi-Fi has virtually taken over networking in established residential domiciles. Even where new housing is built with CAT 5 cabling in place, it is often easier to use Wi-Fi rather than try to locate networked devices close to an Ethernet outlet.
It could be argued that wireless does not directly impact content. Yet a significant amount of content is being configured specifically for the wireless domain. Services like GPS navigation and location-sensitive advertising and location-based services are becoming more important to consumers and will likely become an integral part of the connected home in the future.
Stratecast Connected Home practices zeroes in on wireless
In fact, Stratecast analysts are convinced that wireless technology will largely be the enabler that allows the connected home to transcend the house and extend the virtual living space to any place the consumer travels. Consequently, wireless will have a large role in defining the characteristics of the connected home and will comprise a large part of the perception surveys that Stratecast will launch in the first quarter of 2011.
Operators that are beginning to examine the connected home market need to be aware that no connected home offering will be perceived as complete by consumers if it lacks a wireless component. As the connected home begins to dominate residential communications, mobility will be critical to both the in-home communications environment as well as extra-home communication capabilities. Now is the time for operators to think about how to include this technology in their offerings.
About the author: Mike Jude is a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan in charge of the consumer communication services practice. He brings 30 years of experience in technology management in manufacturing, wide -area network design, intellectual-property management and public policy. Jude holds degrees in electrical engineering and engineering management and a Ph.D. in decision analysis. He is co-author of The Case for Virtual Business Processes: Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiencies and Focus on Your Core Business, Cisco Press, 2003.
This was first published in January 2011