As the home becomes a local area network supporting everything from video surveillance to energy management and from communications and Internet services to smart appliances and health care applications, telecom network operators such as Verizon Communications are well positioned to step in and manage it all. But do they want to?
The answer is yes, but don’t get any ideas about Verizon breeding a brigade of Super Geeks to run around supporting the effort. For Verizon, the home is the network and network technology is the geek squad. Building the right technology into the customer premises equipment upfront can avoid a lot of problems later on, said Tushar Saxena, director of home networking technologies at Verizon.
We’ll see how he plans to do that, but first, a FiOS status update. The fiber optic-based bundled communications service from Verizon known as FiOS now is available in 16 states and has 3.1 million Internet users and 2.5 million TV viewers. Both services picked up 300,000 customers last quarter which was a 62 to 70 percent improvement over the same quarter last year. By next year, the company says it will have 50 percent of the homes that are passed by fiber served with GPON technology. Today, it is more than 40 percent. That fiber network now passes 13.8 million homes and businesses.
And on August 19th, the company introduced FiOS TV and cell phone integration. Over the next three months, Verizon will release a program that will allow cell phones to act like a remote control.
What this all means is that the service has become sufficiently widespread and complex that it is in serious need of true management capabilities. Later you will see what additional applications Verizon has planned for FiOS. And in the end you will see that when all is said and done, service delivery and home network management become essentially one in the same.
Here’s the Plan
Telecom is not the only brand of service provider that wants to exploit the home network. Security, smart grid and health care services all want in. But because the delivery and support paradigms are still uncertain for some of these, particularly the smart grid, any company that plans to either manage or support an environment in which others can manage these services needs to be developing the capability now.
That’s Saxena’s job. He is responsible for developing and executing the next-generation digital home strategy for broadband services, including FiOS, DSL and, down the road, LTE for Verizon. He says it’s his job to design a network architecture that will support all Verizon business units while simultaneously allowing strategic partners access to that architecture to do their own management.
“We designed our architecture from the get-go to be completely integrated with the home network, so for us the home network is table stakes. You can’t really separate FiOS from the home network; it runs on the home network,” Saxena said.