Gigabit Cities

Orange Fosters Gigabit App Development

Global network operator Orange is working to raise the profile and utility of gigabit-speed networks by fostering application innovation at its Orange GigaStudio, located in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The San Francisco facility is billed as a gigabit lab at which startup developers can come and test high-bandwidth ideas. Orange (NYSE: FTE) also recently led a track at TreeHacks, a Stanford hackathon, and awarded the winning developer with a trip to Paris to demo their creation for Orange executives.

"We're trying to find services to differentiate, and there's a lot of innovation here," says Antonin Lapiche, technology analyst for Orange Silicon Valley, of the French company's decision to invest in a facility in Silicon Valley, which opened last fall. "The goal is to plant the seed about gigabit and engage with the ecosystem."

Orange GigaStudio mainly focuses on mass market consumer applications that require low latency and high bandwidth -- typically those that involve streaming, collaboration and high-capacity video functionality.

The application that won the TreeHacks honors for its Paris-bound founders, for example, works with set-top boxes to allow consumers in different places to have interactive video viewing experiences. Called Couch, the app creates a "viewing room" in which the experience is synced for all viewers and allows each to pause, play and restart a movie, as well as exchange messages with one another.

For the latest on urban network innovation, visit Light Reading's dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel. And be sure to register to attend Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event on May 13-14 in Atlanta.

In taking an incubator-like approach to gigabit application development, Orange is doing its part to effectively forge a market for gigabit-speed networks. (See Gigabit: What Is It Good For? and Gigabit Providers Not Focused on Apps – Study.) "Right now there's not a specific set of applications that's only available for gigabit networks," says Will Barkis, technology analyst for Orange Silicon Valley. "We're trying to help harden applications, so you can make a case for the networks."

Orange's approach is relatively unique among its global service provider peers, but one that carriers around the world likely would be smart to replicate as they continue to build out high-bandwidth capabilities and seek to add more revenue-generating applications to answer the "what would I do with a gig?" question for mass consumers, as well as enterprises. In doing just that, Orange is not only fueling entrepreneurial developers, but also potentially adding traffic and the need for high-speed bandwidth to its own and other networks.

"We provide easy ways for developers to plug into the ecosystem -- to take an existing application and scale to the gig," says David Martin, senior business analyst for Orange Silicon Valley. "Our market in France is competitive and we need these services today. But the services we find can be applied to the US market."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading

DOShea 3/10/2015 | 10:41:47 AM
Re: Gigabit sandbox Seems like all the big carriers have innovation labs set up, but we rarely see real apps coming out of them, or at least they rarely make the connection between something that started in such a lab and what become of it at the commercial level. It perhaps helps perpetuate a notion that some of these labs are just for show.
jasonmeyers 3/9/2015 | 6:32:30 PM
Gigabit sandbox I'm not sure why there isn't more of this kind of activity from carriers in all parts the world -- seems like a relatively low-risk way to support application innovation that only stands to benefit the operators with more traffic on their gigabit networks. For regional carriers, it also ties in with the "hometown provider" motif and the (disputed, at least on these message boards) idea that gigabit networks can be economic development engines. 
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