Beyond the Triple Play


More than a decade ago, cable companies introduced the triple play of voice, video and data that is now the standard telecom offering worldwide. Fiber’s greater bandwidth and reliability allow FTTH providers to think beyond the triple play and offer services tailored to communities’ needs.

Some of these services help differentiate fiber-to-the-home communities; some generate additional revenue streams (often with high margins) or help retain customers; still others are used by providers or property developers to manage their assets more efficiently. Many do all three.

Telehealth allows instant access to medical specialists via videoconferencing from a home or community center. The videoconferencing may be integrated with Internet-enabled diagnostic devices (blood pressure cuffs, respiration measurement, etc.), sensor-based home monitoring, electronic medical records systems, online prescription services and online appointment scheduling. Telehealth helps keep older adults living independently for longer, offering tremendous savings for payers and families. It is also a boon for members of the “sandwich generation,” who are responsible for caring for both their children and their elders.

Social applications build a sense of community. They range from community-focused social networking sites to intranet sites that feature local news and events to video channels that broadcast local athletic contests, artistic productions and political meetings. Because these offerings can be interactive, they easily trump conventional cable public-access stations.

Home-automation and concierge services make residents’ lives comfortable and convenient. Cameras that recognize cars when they enter a community can alert parking attendants and security personnel and then turn on lights and heating or air conditioning at home. Residents can view the laundry room, connect to community services or schedule a dry cleaning pickup, pizza delivery or home repair. These applications also help owners control energy use.

Mobility is easier to accommodate with a robust fiber-to-the-home network. Using the backhaul afforded by FTTH, providers can offer Wi-Fi connections to residents in indoor and outdoor public spaces without overloading the network. Residents can bring their laptops or tablets to a pool area, check email from a laundry room or listen to Internet radio in a gym.

Because fiber-to-the-home networks have virtually unlimited capacity, unparalleled reliability and remote service monitoring, fiber providers have a wide choice of applications for resale.

The smart electric grid is expected to radically improve the business case for fiber to the home.Connecting electric meters to fiber enables automated meter reading. This is usually the first smart-grid application that utilities deploy because it is relatively straightforward to implement and has an immediate payback. Though most FTTH deployers that have installed smart meters are public or cooperative electric utilities, a few telcos install and read smart meters for utilities.

Beyond automated meter reading, such smart-grid applications as demand-response programs, SCADA and outage detection greatly reduce electric utilities’ operating costs. Smartgrid applications are major reasons that electric utilities across the country have long been building fiber infrastructures.

Mobile backhaul is another enormous revenue opportunity for fiber deployers. The exploding demands for mobile bandwidth are prompting wireless providers to upgrade the connections from their cell sites to the Internet (traditional connections are usually copper T1 lines with 1.5 Mbps bandwidth).

Close to half of cell sites are now served by fiber, and more are added every day. In addition, the next generation of wireless architecture will move all baseband processing from cell sites to the cloud; cell sites will have to be connected via fiber to hubs where processing takes place.

Broadband providers offer many other applications through Web portals or set-top boxes, often at lower prices than customers could obtain by purchasing these services directly. In addition to creating new revenue streams, these applications reduce customer churn, and they lower expenses by keeping more traffic in-network.

Online storage allows users to store data files on the Internet, access them from anywhere and share them with others. The cloud computing revolution has moved storage, applications and computing capacity from the desktop to the Web. Service providers now supply managed services to business customers that until recently were provided only by corporate IT departments.

Home security, like many other chnologies, is migrating from analog digital. Digitally based home curity allows residents to control tings, receive alerts and view their mes via PC or cellphone. Digital curity systems also support a wider nge of sensors – not only traditional otion detectors but also cameras, ter detectors, smoke detectors and any others. Because digital security es wiring already installed for oadband, it is inexpensive to install d makes economic sense for renters well as homeowners.

Over-the-top video (delivered on the data service, not the video service) may be offered as either an adjunct or a substitute for traditional pay V, and it may be delivered through her a Web portal or a set-top box. e business models, technologies and gal status of provider-delivered OTT video are evolving rapidly – a fact that demonstrates the enormous amount interest in this application. If OTT deo eventually displaces traditional y TV, fiber-to-the-home providers e well-positioned to benefit because ey can guarantee the quality of user perience.

Videoconferencing or video at is universally available through e or low-cost Web-based services, t the quality of low-end services often poor. Fiber to the home, with its high upstream bandwidth, presents opportunities for providers to make high-quality videoconferencing available through TV screens.

Targeted advertising represents an important potential revenue stream. IPTV ads can be sent to households or specific TVs based on demographic criteria or viewing patterns. Another potential source of advertising dollars is T-commerce, in which television viewers click on ads – or even product placements in television shows – to see more information about products or order them.

Broadband enables property owners to manage their assets efficiently. The addition of broadband – especially the high-capacity, high-reliability broadband that fiber enables – turns “smart” buildings into “genius” buildings. Internet-enabled sensors and applications automate work that was once done by maintenance crews – and get it done it more quickly accurately. Broadband application help owners communicate with t and employees.

Guarding buildings and construction sites can be manage inexpensively and intelligently through IP-based video surveillan Videoconferencing allows constru managers to make virtual site inspections more frequently than can make physical inspections. O work order scheduling helps prop managers be more responsive to t residents while reducing operatin expenses. Residents can request re at any time – not just when the o open or they can find the superin – and management personnel can with problems that require person attention rather than routine requ Residents can be automatically no when work is completed.

Proprietary building manag networks, such as fire protection systems, can be replaced by stand based systems that ar expensive. Energy managem and water manageme be broadband-enabled Motion sensors, intelligent thermostat and automated ventil equipment can keep p spaces and unoccupie at appropriate temper applications that mon and analyze usage he property managers an residents find opportu to shift loads to nonp times and reduce thei overall usage.