Skip to main content

Verizon to Champion Differentiated Pay-TV

A recent Forbes column asks the question, would you rather search cooking shows by recipe than by host? How about tracking your fantasy football team's score while the game is in the background? Or watching a movie in bed that you digitally recorded in your living room? Here, in a lab about ten miles outside Boston, Verizon Communications is trying to get there -- before its competitors do.

Inside a few large buildings surrounded by woods, some 100 engineers and researchers are trying to add data-driven and interactive elements to television content that would make today's digital cable look like TV with rabbit ears. While wild turkeys have taken a liking to the grassy courtyard between buildings, inside it's business: buzzing meeting rooms and long hallways of offices. Inside one room, a worker has notes about one of Fermat's mathematical theorems scrawled on a whiteboard.

"Everybody's looking for the next revenue model," says Shawn Strickland, vice president of TV product management. "If somebody finds something that resonates with consumers, we have to be able to build something really quickly."

The number of rivals is growing fast. Cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner have swooped in to steal a chunk of Verizon's phone customers with cheap telephone service packages, and upstarts like Vonage are also targeting its core business. Local power utilities may soon start selling broadband Internet access over their lines, and wireless technologies from metro Wi-Fi and WiMAX to high-speed cellular networks may even challenge the need for wires into the home.

Forbes concludes; phone companies that were sitting pretty just a few years ago with digital subscriber line and voice services, must innovate or face 'irrelevancy.'

Which raises an interesting question, where is the best place to discover truly new innovations -- in a telco research lab that's full of bright engineers and scientists, or actually at the logical source of all potentially useful and relevant insights, within a consumer's home? The answer is, of course, you have to fully utilize both resources.

"Verizon needs to move quickly away from a 'me-too' offering to one that leverages the unique characteristics of IP, delivering a service that cable operators cannot provide," says a recent report from Pyramid Research. As it stands, the company's TV offering looks and costs about the same as digital cable, with a vast majority of standard-definition channels, the same set-top box and the same confusing remote control.

Apparently, Verizon is vividly aware of the potential to get caught in this 'commodity pay-TV' trap, and has already made appropriate investments. They have a team focused on building the TV experience, including customizing on-screen menus, designing a better remote control and testing potential features, ranging from on-screen annotations about the movie you're watching to a Web portal that lets you program your digital recorder from anywhere. One section of the lab is a mock house, complete with red exterior siding, wallpaper, appliances and furniture, from home office to living room and even a kid's videogaming palace.

Perhaps this is the smartest investment that Verizon has made to date, as they continue their business model transformation at the crossroads of the communications and entertainment sectors. Given my own perspective regarding where there's likely fertile ground for service offering innovation, I'd stay closely focused on that consumer experience in the digital home, and beyond.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about landing a triple-play windfall, I'd worry more about falling victim to a singular price war. That's the real issue at hand, until someone uniquely re-imagines the legacy television experience that is clearly overdue for a meaningful remake.

Popular posts from this blog

Wireless Solutions Advance Work from Home Trends

Despite a challenging backdrop from the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impact on fifth-generation (5G) wireless supply chains has been minimal compared to the wider mobile smartphone market. This led to 5G mobile devices becoming more diverse, brought to market quickly at a variety of price points, thereby accelerating affordability and adoption. The mobile market is transitioning to 5G and many leading vendors are now exploring the low-priced 5G smartphone segment. According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, 681 million 5G handsets will be shipped in 2022. Therefore, the race is on for OEMs to find that all-important level of differentiation in their flagship portfolios to help boost margins and improve market share. 5G Wireless Market Development Vendors continue to drive the adoption of new product designs, screen technology, chipsets, and camera setups -- notably within the flagship smartphone segment. Meanwhile, the leaders seek a

Software-Defined Infrastructure: The Platform of Choice

As more organizations adapt to a hybrid working model for their distributed workforce, enterprise CIOs and CTOs are tasked with delivering new productivity-enabling applications, while also seeking ways to effectively reduce IT cost, complexity, and risk. Traditional IT hardware infrastructure is evolving to more software-based solutions. The worldwide software-defined infrastructure (SDI) combined software market reached $12.17 billion during 2020 -- that's an increase of 5 percent over 2019, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). The market grew faster than other core IT technologies. The three technology pillars within the SDI market are: software-defined compute (53 percent of market value), software-defined storage controller (36 percent), and software-defined networking (11 percent). "Software-defined infrastructure solutions have long been popular for companies looking to eliminate cost, complexity, and risk within their data cente

Digital Identity Verification Market to Reach $16.7B

As more enterprise organizations embrace the ongoing transition to digital business transformation, CIOs and CTOs are adopting new technologies that enable the secure identification of individuals within their key stakeholder communities. A "digital identity" is a unique representation of a person. It enables individuals to prove their physical identity during transactions. Moreover, a digital identity is a set of validated digital attributes and credentials for online interactions -- similar to a person's identity within the physical world. Individuals can use a 'digital ID' to be verified through an authorized digital channel. Usually issued or regulated by a national ID scheme, a digital identity serves to identify a unique person online or offline. Digital Identity Systems Market Development Complementary to more traditional forms of identification, digital identity verification systems can enhance the authenticity, security, confidentiality, and efficiency of