The battle for the hearts, minds, time and wallets of broadband users is about to reach beyond the front door like never before as smart home services become more strategically important, according to new industry research.
By 2014, 44 percent of operators worldwide will use a residential gateway to power home automation services for subscribers, according to a new report from Infonetics Research Inc.
This isn't the first time the industry has turned its attention to home security and automation. High margins and the chance to add value to existing broadband networks create an opportunity that's hard to resist.
But it's only during the past two years that operators have ramped up their deployment efforts. Since 2011, the top three cable providers in the U.S. along with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. have all launched new home control services. (See Will Service Providers Steal ADT's Customers?)
Most U.S. cable operators are relying on iControl Networks Inc. for the underlying software for smart home services, while Verizon is using 4Home (now under the Arris Group Inc. umbrella). AT&T's Digital Life offering runs on a platform provided by Cisco Systems Inc.
Residential gateways are becoming the hardware platform of choice, with Infonetics reporting that operators perceive Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. as the top vendors in the market. [Editor's note: That finding might cause a few nervous shifts in the corridors of power…]
Outside of home automation, multiscreen video is a primary focus in operator gateway deployments. Infonetics reports that 50 percent of service providers plan to use gateways to deliver multiscreen services by 2014, up from just six percent today.
While multiscreen video is driving headlines, however, interest in home automation is quietly but steadily growing on the sidelines as service providers seek as many ways as possible to retain their broadband customers and increase their margins.
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable