Cable Tech

BT Gets a Gateway

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) plans to launch a home gateway product called the BT Hub during the second quarter of this year as it gears up to launch new broadband services such as IPTV.

The carrier has developed its product -- designed to provide wireless networking, next-generation TV services, broadband voice, video telephony, high-definition voice, monitoring services, and remote diagnostics -- with French vendor Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) and with North American vendor 2Wire Inc. , which will provide the monitoring and diagnostics capabilities, according to a spokesman for the operator.

Broadband service providers believe that providing customers with home gateways will help them sell more services, raise average household revenues, and reduce churn rates. But the cost of developing such products, and to what level they should be subsidized by the carriers, has been a sticking point. (See Home Gateway Group Puts on Specs, Telcos, Vendors Battle Over Gateway, and BB Forum: Gateway Goals for Carriers.)

BT says it doesn't have any details yet about how it will price and charge for the Hub.

Carriers such as BT "increasingly see residential gateways as a key mechanism in the battle both to deliver higher-value services over broadband and to gain better control over customers," states Heavy Reading senior analyst Graham Finnie in a new report, DSL Gateways: Beyond the Router. (See The DSL Gateway Dilemma.)

Finnie, who examined carrier and vendor home gateway strategies for his report, reckons BT has chosen two good technology partners in Thomson and 2Wire.

"Thomson has put a lot of effort into developing home gateway products specifically for carriers, and is already a supplier to Orange (NYSE: FTE), while 2Wire is a leader in remote diagnostics and autoconfiguration, and an existing supplier to BT," says Finnie. (See BT Does VOIP – With Strings Attached.)

BT needs this kind of product for a number of reasons, says the analyst. "Sorting out problems remotely will help BT cut support costs, and should certainly help reduce churn. Customers become much more tied to a service when a home gateway is supplied by the service provider, as it makes it harder to switch to another provider. BT needs to retain customers more than most, because it doesn't have the strong broadband market share that many other European incumbents have."

BT, which plans to launch its IPTV service towards the end of 2006, currently has 2.33 million DSL customers, which gives it about 31 percent of the DSL market in the U.K., well below most of its European peers. That market share drops even further, to less than 25 percent, when the total U.K. broadband access market, including cable modem connections, is measured.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 4:06:39 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway Hmmm. "Broadband voice", "High definition voice" and "control of the customer". So, I ditch my PC and buy a pricy box from BT in exchange for my freedom, so I can get "hi-def voice." This sounds like a winner.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:06:29 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway And it doesn't include any security features either?
More software and more hardware cost than my PC/
And I expect they will want me to manage updates too?

kentishman 12/5/2012 | 4:06:25 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway I am already a user of the BT Fusion Home Gateway which is made by Inventel (www.inventel.com) from France now part of Thompson of France.

This works extremely well as an 802.11 a/b Hub plus bluetooth hub for the BT Fixed Mobile convergence Phone plus it has a USB in port for future services. It has two Ethernet ports. So what is new with this device. BT claimed somewhere that the device will be suitable for their Video on demand delivery when this becomes avaialble.

Unfortunately I cannot register this product with Inventel so I am tied to BT's Road Map.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 4:06:13 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway This sounds more PVR-ish and less network-ish. More like a PC than a router at first blush. Still, what is "hi-def voice" and why do I care? I mean, if this is their marketing lead, well, YAWN.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:12 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway Paul Reynolds (CEO of BT Wholesale) described "high-def voice" as 128kb/s voice traffic (ie: double the fidelity of standard POTS voice).

kentishman 12/5/2012 | 4:06:07 AM
re: BT Gets a Gateway Sounds like the quality I already get using Skype!!!

Seriously though the BT Fusion phone (Blue Phone) I have produces an excellent voice quality, that is better than my old POTS line. I am not sure what the bandwidth on the Bluetoth link is but the Inventel website states 723kbit/s for the bluetooth connection speed although i guess this rate falls the further you get away from the BT Hub. This is clearly better than 128 knit/s. The Bluephone by the way (Motorola V560 I think) achieves a good 50m from the Hub in clear line of site and 30m through walls.
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