Verizon hosted journalists, bloggers, analysts and tourists to its Irving, Texas offices for a preview of several new technologies for its FiOS service last week. Verizon's Joe Ambeault noted many of the updates right here.
Briefly, Verizon:Updated the look, feel, navigation and performance of its FiOS media guide
Hinted that it is possible to offer its Flex View service anytime, anywhere on any device. The carrier, though, was careful to say that it wasn't interested in taking that direction anytime soon -- just that it was possible, given its current technology.
Ambeault laid the groundwork for this revelation back in 2010, when he first described Flex View to LRTV:
While those updates are interesting, what I found most compelling is that Verizon is using its network to offload some of the computing tasks required by set-tops, and that Verizon has found a way to virtualize the computing power and storage capabilities in the home.
The improved TV search function owns its speed to Verizon's servers and a very fast broadband network. From Ambeault's post: "Unlike other systems that execute the search locally on the set-top box severely limiting its capabilities, FiOS TV search employs powerful servers that are distributed throughout our network."
FiOS TV's search function looked more responsive and powerful than any other pay-TV implementation I've seen. Even if the hardware at the consumer end was a game console, a Roku Inc. set-top or an outdated set-top, the capabilities of the hardware wouldn't be limited because the network is doing the heavy lifting.
Of course, we already knew set-tops were dead:
Inside the home, Verizon has allowed consumers to have multiple DVRs, and now it has virtualized the DVRs so that there is just one big bucket of storage serving the entire house. When one DVR fills up, the network records the program to another DVR in the home, if available. The customer needn't worry what program is in what room because every set-top can access every program on every DVR.
What could come next is a powerful new vision for how we consume entertainment in the home. Verizon's engineers have found a way to make network software perform a lot of the same tasks that previously required a set-top box. With that, the carrier is allowing consumers more flexibility and proving that you need a more powerful network to handle all the virtualization, real-time computing and other tasks that lie ahead with a cloud-enabled home entertainment.
— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading