& cplSiteName &

CES Preview: The Service Provider Edition

Mari Silbey
12/29/2016
50%
50%

CES is all about consumer electronics, so why do service providers go to the Las Vegas event? The answer is an easy one. More and more of the electronics consumers buy are connected to the networks that service providers manage, and to the applications those networks enable. Buy a new phone, and you’re dependent on one of the mobile carriers to make it work. Buy a Roku, or virtual reality headset or connected TV, and you've got your wireline ISP to thank (or blame) for the entertainment experience.

Attending CES is partly about visibility for service providers, but it's even more about learning what innovations are on the horizon and making deals to bring those innovations profitably to market. Here's what service providers are focused on for CES 2017.

WiFi at home
A recent study by Sandvine found that the average North American household now has more than seven connected devices active every day, and it's because of that demand on the home network that technologists have steered their energies toward improving home WiFi connections. Internet service providers are particularly keen on bettering WiFi performance because they're the ones that get the call when a user is unhappy. Estimates suggest that more than half of customer service calls are WiFi-related. (See Assia Lands WiFi Tech On Hitron CPE.)

I'm expecting some big WiFi announcements at CES, and perhaps even more importantly, plenty of back-room meetings as service providers decide how to cement their home WiFi plans for 2017. Top vendors will certainly be on site, including AirTies , which has already signed up Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR) and Midcontinent Communications (Midco) as service provider customers for its mesh networking technology, and Celeno Communications , which recently closed a new $38 million funding round. (See Frontier Calls In WiFi Fix With AirTies Mesh and Winning at WiFi – Celeno Closes $38M Round.)


Want to know more about cable's wireless ambitions? Check out our cable WiFi channel
here on Light Reading.


Retail darling Eero will also be in Vegas with its mesh networking solution, and even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is listed in the CES exhibitor directory, albeit without a booth or suite number attached to its name. (See also Google Plans Home WiFi Takeover.)

Service providers would be foolish not to consider their WiFi options with so many vendors on hand, and by CES 2018, it will almost certainly be too late to start comparison shopping.

IoT security and interoperability
The Internet of Things was big at CES 2016, but in 2017 the conversation looks like it will shift to focus more on issues of scale, including how to secure emerging machine-to-machine networks and how to make it easier to run a variety of devices and applications on top of these M2M platforms.

From an exhibitor perspective, the smart home category will play a big role in the IoT presence at CES. There's an entire smart home marketplace, and for the first time, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will have a public exhibit space at the show to highlight its Xfinity Home solutions. Comcast is particularly concerned with making it easy to connect smart home devices and on expanding the list of retail products that are certified to work securely with the Xfinity system.

Beyond the smart home, however, there are also numerous panel sessions scheduled at CES on broader topics like how to handle big data from IoT deployments and how to address IoT demands across different sectors from smart cars to smart energy and more.

Even companies like Ingenu and Sigfox , which just announced major milestones in their deployments of low-powered, IoT networks in US cities, will be at CES 2017. They don't have gadgets to sell, but they do have business to do with device makers and other network providers to ensure their deployments continue to grow and provide safe and profitable connectivity for innovative new applications. (See also Sigfox in the City: 100+ Markets up in the US.)

Video, video, video
Video is always a highlight at CES, and once again in 2017, that video category will expand beyond traditional lean-back viewing to more interactive augmented reality and virtual reality services.

In the more traditional video domain, connected-TV devices at CES will collide with a variety of service models for delivering video. We may see the new AirTV in Las Vegas that was designed to combine over-the-air broadcast channels with over-the-top video applications. And TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) will certainly be on site to promote its TiVo platform as a way for service providers to bridge the gap between QAM-based television and new IP video services. (See AirTV Promises Best of OTA & OTT and What's Next for Rovi & TiVo?)

There will also be lots, and lots and lots of connected TVs at CES 2017, because if there's one thing that drives booth traffic, it's big-screen displays. Many of these will also be 4K and HDR-enabled; technologies which promise new challenges for operators trying to deliver video on their networks.

On the AR and VR front, I expect there will still be a grab bag of demos and gizmos at the upcoming CES, but the sheer variety of products and technologies means the show will be a good opportunity for service providers to do their research on how applications are evolving and what business models they might consider in the future. Could Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) decide one day to offer a premium VR entertainment package with subscription content and a VR headset? It's certainly possible. (Verizon already resells Google's Daydream View headset.)

And there's no better place for a network operator to peruse its options and meet with potential partners than at CES in Las Vegas.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Michelle
100%
0%
Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/29/2016 | 2:04:29 PM
It begins
I suppose it's already time for CES... These are interesting predictions (not surprising). Video, VR, IoT, and Wi-fi are all good angles. I can't wait to see how these things play out in the real world. 
More Blogs from MariNation
An infrastructure bill without public/private partnerships? Sad!
It's not just because Amazon has a lot of cash.
Forget back to school. Let's get back to TV with a rush of fall industry updates.
Maybe TV doesn't have to be just TV anymore.
'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
December 5-7, 2017, The Intercontinental Prague
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
When Will 6G Arrive? Hopefully Never, Says BT's McRae
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Let's Talk About 5G Efficiency, Not Wacky Services
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Top 5 Tech Turkeys 2017
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/22/2017
Wireless Could Arrive Soon in NYC Subway Tunnels
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2017
AT&T's Lurie Leaps to Synchronoss as New CEO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives