IPTV enhancing digital home integration play

The currently niche digital home integrator market could get a boost as networking vendors empower service providers to bring Internet protocol television (IPTV) into homes across the nation.

While today most video services are delivered to the home via cable or satellite, vendors such as Nortel Networks (TSX: NT) are developing IPTV technology that will enable service providers such as Telus to bring high-quality digital video and related communications and entertainment services into the home.

Today digital home integration tends to be a fairly niche market, with specialist partners developing home networks for clients. However, Grant Hall, leader of video solutions marketing for Nortel Networks, says IPTV could fuel wider opportunity for digital home integrators to build on and enhance the new capabilities and functionalities the technology enables.

“The touch point in the home is the set-top box, but they can develop applications that would pull the media off a PC and bring it into the network, for example,” said Hall.

As the content delivered through the network is pushed put to various devices, whether it is a television, laptop or PDA, Hall says it will also be important for the network to intelligently optimize the size and quality of the content for the device.

“There’s certainly an opportunity to participate in the digital home and enhance the content there,” said Hall.

In addition to the home play, Hall says IPTV will also drive opportunity in the enterprise space. Specific verticals such as education, health care and hotels could all benefit from and make use of IPTV to become service providers themselves, delivering unique and customized content to their end users via an internal video network.

“There are a lot of enterprise verticals that could use this kind of solution,” said Hall. “Universities could deliver classes on demand. Imagine being able to pull up any class video you want from the school’s catalogue that you want, on demand.”

A university or a hospital is unlikely to have the technical resources or wherewithal to install and maintain an IPTV network on its own, opening up an opportunity for the channel to step in.

However, Hall says for the time being at least Nortel’s recently launched IPTV solution will be a purely direct play.

“We do have an enterprise sales force and we’re very engaged with those customers,” said Hall. “We’re not sure if we’ll go through channel, we’re still in the early days.”

In the home and service provider space Hall says there will be an opportunity for channel partners to develop third-party value-added applications and services on top of the platform down the road.

“We’re committed to building an eco-system of partners, but to be truthful we haven’t currently put in place a channel program where they can take it to market and sell it with their own applications,” said Hall.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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