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The Everywire Conversation with Parks Associates’ VP and Principal Analyst, Kurt Scherf

March 19, 2009 12:03 PM in 802.11n , CEPCA , Kurt Scherf , Parks Associates , UPA  | 0 comments  | 0 TrackBack

Picture 5 Parks Associates’ VP and Principal Analyst, Kurt Scherf, has been a long time observer of home networks, IPTV and broadband technologies.  I recently spoke to Kurt about his view on G.hn, the global economy, and home networking trends around the world.

Kurt’s take on G.hn is that it is an important step to resolving much of the confusion that has existed in the powerline networking space with the existence of three major specifications – Universal Powerline Association (led by Spanish chipmaker DS2), Panasonic’s HD-PLC (supported by Japan’s Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance, or CEPCA), and HomePlug. Both UPA and CEPCA are on board with G.hn, leaving HomePlug and the Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) solutions on the outside looking in.

Standardizing on a powerline networking solution for the service provider community was critical, according to Scherf, because it is among broadband service providers where the need for powerline bridges between modems and set-top boxes are critical in reducing CapEx costs for the installation of triple-play and IPTV services. This is most evident currently in the highly-dynamic European marketplace, where incumbent telephone providers compete in each other’s territory, thanks to aggressive local loop unbundling. Despite the current economic slowdown, Scherf points to home networking deployments as but one example of continued investments by service providers to innovate with new services and to seek ways to lower deployment costs at the same time.

He sees the shift to G.hn as being good for vendors like CopperGate as they seem to have been early in the notion that having industry standards best serve the industry at large.  He thinks the move by CopperGate in buying the HomePlug AV business last year from Conexant was a smart move, as it gave them the industry’s only coax, phone and powerline solution. As for Intel and their being the driving force behind the HomeGrid Forum, Kurt sees the semiconductor giant as looking for new markets into the home, particularly with high-end processors that the company is aiming at the connected TV and connected set-top box markets.

Although MoCA representatives were unhappy with how the G.hn development transpired, Scherf said that this home networking technology has room to expand in regions where cable operators have a stronger presence, such as North America and Western Eruope, Scherf applauded MoCA’s success in the cable space, but sees it as limiting compared to other regions of the world, where operators will seek the ubiquity of powerline networks to distribute triple-play and high-definition video services. A good fit for MoCA technology is in multi-room DVR applications, Scherf noted. However, rollouts are still limited to a few service providers at present, including AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. and Telefónica in Spain.

As to the emerging class of next-generation wireless solutions (including 802.11n and proprietary technologies), Scherf said that they bear watching as a potential fit for networked consumer electronics, but he has not heard of strong demand from the service providers for wireless solutions to distribute high-quality video around the home.

Overall, my conversation with Kurt was engaging and positive.  Parks Associates continues to offer innovative research, events and industry conferences.  They also seem to really get social networks, as evidenced by their recently announced report that ties social networking with advertising and connected TV. 

My goal is to check in with Kurt on a quarterly basis and get his sense of the forward moving momentum for G.hn and wired home networking in general.

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