Verizon Previews FiOS Future
AT&T got to spotlight some possible U-verse applications at last week's TelcoTV conference. (See AT&T Shows Off IPTV Tricks.) On Friday, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) did some bragging of its own, inviting media to its sprawling campus here to demonstrate some interactive services that could be in the future for FiOS TV.
CTO Mark Wegleitner and his technology team showed off applications from video games to advanced advertising to home security and, of course, fixed/mobile convergence. All of the services are still in development and may or may not one day become reality. Here's the rundown.
With this new service, Verizon is looking to change instant messaging from being a service that is tied to the device to a service that is tied to the user. Once Verizon makes some necessary upgrades to its presence servers, users of any of its services could notify the network of what device they're using, whether it be the wireless device or PC.
With IM Everywhere, a picture message sent to a user's cellphone could be redirected by the cell tower to the user's PC if that is what he is actively using. The contents of the message would then pop up on the screen as if it were an instant message. Verizon is looking to make this both a consumer- and enterprise-based service.
The gaming geek demographic is now a multibillion-dollar industry. In this demo, Verizon's director of mass market services, William Garrett, explained how by 2010, 20 percent of this consumer gaming spending will be through interactive TV services.
With Gaming Anywhere on FiOS, all of the games are executed in Verizon's network, meaning any network upgrades wouldn't have to touch customer premises equipment. In this service, users could play a variety of titles from either their TV set-top box using any USB capable game controller, their PC, or their mobile phone.
In the demo, Verizon showed off the multi-player aspect of the service with a round of golf between two employees, one playing from a set-top box and the other from a mobile phone. Part of the plan is to let users switch from playing on one device to another.
What would be the point of new interactive services without making more advertising revenue off of it? Here, Verizon showed how ads could be inserted, even in on-demand programs that skip commercial breaks.
The idea harkens back to last decade's dreams of interactive TV, where content gets embedded inside programming. Verizon's demo showed the Today show with a chef as a guest. Pressing a button on the remote control called up recipes, books available for purchase on Amazon.com, and relevant ad content.
Verizon also plans to add interactive information on product placements within television shows. Any purchases made through FiOS TV could be paid for by the usual credit-card method -- or, Verizon could add them to the phone bill.
HomeWave Media Share and Security
FiOS is planning a customer premises management system, where the home router keeps track of all devices including WiFi-enabled cameras. When taking a picture with such a camera, the router immediately recognizes it and sends it to any device in the home the user wants: the TV, mobile phone, PC, etc.
The devices are all managed in accordance with the TR-069 standard. The idea can be extended to devices such as Webcams, thermometers, and lighting fixtures that can be controlled from anywhere using a mobile phone.
Integrated Services on IMS
The common theme of all of these future services is presence. They rely on Verizon's network to be continually tracking the presence of every device. Eventually, Verizon hopes to be able to detect which devices can reach a user and to receive alerts when those devices become available to the network.
At least in the lab setting, Verizon showed it's able to transfer phone calls, videos, and other applications from one device to the other with no interruption. Verizon also hopes to make cellphone calls possible over a WiFi network just as T-Mobile US Inc. does with its Hot Spot @Home service.
— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading