The Online Reporter

Research, Trends and Insight into the Digital Media, Consumer Electronics & Broadband Industries

G.fast Coming to 400k Residences in Vienna

- Alcatel-Lucent & Telekom Austria Testing G.fast

- Expect Deployments in 2016

- ‘Up to Several 100 Mbps via Existing Copper Lines’

Alcatel-Lucent and Telekom Austria Group’s domestic subsidiary A1 have tested G.fast technology at speeds of more than 100 Mbps over existing copper telephone wires.

 

Johann Strauss Monument in Stadt Park. Vienna, Austria.

Viennese composer Johann Strauss – now waltzing to a faster tune

 

A1 says G.fast is still in the test phase and that it will not begin deploying G.fast until 2016. Between now and then it will install fiber to MDUs in preparation for G.fast’s commercial rollout to existing MDUs. A1 estimates that about 400,000 residences in existing MDUs in Vienna are candidates for G.fast. That’s a potential market for 400,000 plus G.fast chips in the residences’ new G.fast-capable modems and another 4,000 or so in the fiber distribution points — assuming 10 residences per MDU. And that’s just Vienna, whose metropolitan area has a population of about 2 million people.

G.fast’s developers have a goal of achieving 1 Gbps, but that will come as the standard is completed by year end and as makers of chips and equipment begin fine tuning its performance.

AlcaLu and Telekom Austria were not specific as to the exact speeds, perhaps because it’s 12 to 18 months before G.fast can be deployed and the G.fast standard has not been ratified by its developers. Their announcement said “more than 100 Mbps” and “up to several 100 Mbps via existing copper lines” but never said how much “more” or exactly how many “several 100 Mbps” it achieved. Was the speed the 700 Mbps that BT said two weeks ago or the 1 Gbps that Sckipio said last week that it had achieved?

It’s believed that equipment and chip makers have achieved speeds in excess of 1 Gbps in their test labs. Actual speeds depend on the length of the existing copper wire (the loop) and the physical condition of the copper wires, which degrade over decades of use.

Two weeks ago, BT said it is working with equipment and chip makers such as Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and other unnamed companies on an in-house test of G.fast that had produced speeds of around 700 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up at 66 meters of copper telephone wires.

Neither BT nor Austria Telekom said whose G.fast chips they are using. Sckipio is the only company that has said (last week) it’s shipping G.fast chips, albeit only in test quantities. Huawei, Broadcom and Ikanos are thought to be developing G.fast chips and may have secretly started shipping G.fast chips for testing purposes.

Significance

The Telekom Austria announcement, coupled with BT’s G.fast announcement, is significant because:

– It shows that telcos have enough confidence in G.fast, even though it is not a “finished” technology, that they are willing to make their tests results publicly available.

– Alcatel-Lucent intends to be a major player in G.fast equipment just as it has become in vectoring.

– There is hope for telcos (and their subscribers) in telcos’ quest to match cablecos’ speeds over comparable network architectures: fiber to a box (also called a node or a distribution point) in the neighborhood and the use of existing wiring from the box to the home — about 200 to 250 meters — with speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

– There is a 1 Gbps solution for existing MDUs that does not require fiber to be installed all the way to the residence, whether in an MDU — of all the way to a standalone residence.

The low-hanging fruit for telcos are the thousand of MDUs in the world whose residences are already connected with copper telephone wires. Additionally, there have been disputes between broadband service providers and MDU owners as to who owns the wires within the building. That will not be a dispute with G.fast because no new wiring is needed inside the building. Also, installing fiber within an MDU (or to a standalone home) requires the telco to send a technician inside the residence, which is often a scheduling headache. This fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) approach eliminates installation expenses, deployment delays, logistical headaches and ownership disputes.

– The fact that telcos are announcing so far ahead of actual deployment — a year or more before deployment —shows how hungry telcos are for G.fast — to keep subscribers away from the cablecos’ faster speeds and to make politicians and government regulators happy.

Telekom Austria’s A1 specifically mentioned the appeal of G.fast’s ability to increase broadband speeds in “urban areas that are mainly characterized by pre-existing multi-story buildings,” of which there are many throughout Europe and Asia — and a surprisingly large number in North and South America.

The CEO of Telekom Austria Group and A1, Hannes Ametsreiter, said, “We’re proud to have succeeded in connecting the first customer in the world to our domestic A1 network with G.fast. This technology will enable us to offer urban areas data rates ten, even up to twenty, times higher than ever before. Fiber to the home remains our long term vision, but we consider G.fast as an intelligent interim solution until fiber will have a similar coverage as we have with copper now.”

Once again, we ask the questions: Why is FTTH needed for the next decade or two if G.fast can truly deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps? How much broadband speed will homes need in ten to 20 years?

Addressing the very real possibility of interference slowing broadband speeds in copper telephone lines, AlcaLu said, “Potential interferences at high data transmission speeds can be eliminated with G.fast by creating a compensating signal. The main challenges posed by G.fast, however, are in terms of high data rates, as they require an increased use of computing power.”

The biggest appeal of G.fast to telcos is summed up in two words: “Cost” and “Now.” G.fast costs substantially less in labor and money to deploy and it can be done much quicker. It allows telcos to postpone building fiber networks all the way to the residence, perhaps for two decades.

Ametsreiter said, “With G.fast, fiber is deployed all the way to the basement of a building, with the final connection to the single living spaces being made with existing copper lines. This allows for a considerable reduction of expenses, as no costly rewiring at the customer premises is required. The data rates reached with G.fast will meet the needs of even the most demanding households over the next 10-20 years. If, in the meantime, extensive renovation works for the staircase of the buildings are planned, it will be up to the tenants to decide whether to install a fiber connection all the way to their living spaces.”

Federico Guillén, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s fixed networks business, said, “We are delighted to continue our strong relationship with Telekom Austria by trialing G.fast, a technology that promises to dramatically accelerate the worldwide availability of ultra-broadband solutions.”

Telekom Austria said there about 400,000 residences in Vienna alone that are candidates to be upgraded to G.fast. Fiber, which Telekom Austria calls “future proof,” is installed in new MDUs but Vienna has thousands of existing MDUs where installing fiber to the premises is expensive, disruptive to tenants and time consuming. It said, “G.fast proves to be the ideal solution for such premises as it allows customers to profit from ultra-broadband services now with no need for costly rewiring.”

[We would be remiss not to point out that neither “UHD” nor “4K” appeared in the public announcement from the two companies! But G.fast is coming just in time for the telcos to support multiple streams of UHD videos being delivered over the Net]

The Low Hanging Fruit

There are other metropolitan areas in Europe that are candidates for G.fast. Here are Wikipedia’s numbers for 30 metropolitan areas. Vienna is 23rd on the list when sorted by population.

 

Metropolitan Area                                      Population                      Density

Greater London, United Kingdom            11,917,000                     1,336 per km²

Paris metropolitan area, France                  11,532,000                     918 per km²

Rhine-Ruhr, Germany                                10,223,000                     1,049 per km²

Milan metropolitan area, Italy                    4,653,000                      2,282 per km²

Randstad, Netherlands                               4,172,000                      1,100 per km²

Frankfurt/Rhine-Main, Germany                3,795,000                      558 per km²

Madrid metropolitan area, Spain                5,804,000                      724 per km²

Munich Region, Germany                          2,532,000                      460 per km²

Hamburg Metropolitan Region, Germany  3,135,000                      425 per km²

Berlin Metropolitan Region, Germany       4,971,000                      825 per km²

Rome metropolitan area, Italy                    3,419,000                      943 per km²

Athens metropolitan area, Greece              4,013,000                      1,054 per km²

Barcelona metropolitan area, Spain            4,233,000                      2,356 per km²

West Midlands, United Kingdom              2,357,000                      1,475 per km²

Stuttgart Region, Germany                        2,664,000                      729 per km²

Vienna metropolitan area, Austria              2,180,000                      473 per km²

Stockholm metropolitan area, Sweden       1,861,000                      285 per km²

Copenhagen metropolitan area, Denmark  1,823,000                      655 per km²

Dublin Metropolitan Area, Ireland             1,534,000                      228 per km²

Leeds-Bradford, United Kingdom            2,393,000                      468 per km²

Greater Manchester, United Kingdom       2,539,000                      1,984 per km²

Hanover Region, Germany                         1,294,000                      436 per km²

Lyon metropolitan area, France                  1,748,000                      286 per km²

Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal           2,436,000                      1,700 per km²

Brussels Capital Region, Belgium              1,801,000                      1,116 per km²

Katowice metropolitan area, Poland          2,710,000                      1,023 per km²

Warsaw metropolitan area, Poland             2,660,000                      512 per km²

Budapest metropolitan area, Hungary        2,394,000                      943 per km²

Naples metropolitan area, Italy                  2,254,000                      3,990 per km²

Bucharest metropolitan area, Romania       2,140,000                      3,233 per km²

European Union as a whole                        458,500,000                   112 per km²

Note: The EU does not include Norway and Switzerland.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_areas_in_the_European_Union_by_GDP#cite_note-milan-4

The ratio of MDUs to standalone residences varies from city to city, depending on the density of the population…

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In This Week’s Edition of The Online Reporter…

Edition No. 900 has just been published and delivered to subscribers

TOR900 copy

 

KEY ISSUES

G.fast Coming to 400k Residences in Vienna

Japan Will See First Live UHD Broadcasts in Early 2015

Disney Uses Netflix to Be Closer to Its Customers

UHD

40-inch Samsung UHD Set Is $899

Seeing Is Believing with UHD

Sales of UHD TVs in Germany Are Spectacular’

Netflix Charges More for UHD Content

NanoTech’s UltraFlix Lands 50 Top Notch Music Concerts

NY Times Proclaims: UHD Is Here

Vizio’s 50-inch UHD Set Looks Like a Winner

DirecTV to Launch 2 New Satellites

Selfie Snappers Turning into Film Directors

OTT SERVICES, APPS AND SCREENS

HBO Will Compete with Netflix, Amazon with New OTT Service

Big Channels Begin Exploring Life outside Pay TV

Amazon Negotiating to Join UltraViolet

Netflix on HBO GO’s OTT Announcement

CBS Makes Good on Its Promise to Launch an OTT Service

Amazon and Netflix Battle for International Rights to Must-See Content

Pay TV Looks to Online Video for Fresh Content

Netflix Quarterly Earnings Are Not Bad but Not Great

ORIGINAL ONLINE VIDEOS

Amazon Orders Second Season of Transparent’

Crackle Will Release Film Exclusively in 2015, Too

Warner Bros Will Explore Digital Premiers for Films in South Korea

ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES

BROADBAND BEAT

Billions Being Spent on Upkeep of Broadband Networks

Is G.fast Sufficient for the Next Decade? Or Two?

What’s Up Next? Online Doctor Visits

Why Is FTTH Needed Now that G.fast Is Here?

Ikanos Lands FiberHome Deal for Vectoring Chips

HOME NETWORKING

Samsung Breaks the 60GHz Wi-Fi Barrier

MoCA Is Ramping up Its China Initiatives

WIRELESS BROADBAND

Wi-Fi Alliance Releases New Passpoint Hotspot

LEGAL MATTERS

Aereo Wants to Compete with Pay TV in the States

Judge’s Response to Aereo’s Cable Company Claims

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

46m Homes to Have UHD Sets by 2018

36m UHD Sets Installed by End of Next Year

DIGI GRAMS

The New Night Shift

Netflix: Movie Release Model Is Antiquated

Aereo: For Competition in Video, Make Online Providers MVPDs

People Have Started to Put Their Lives First and Television Second

Vimeo: Content Creators Want More than YouTube

Consumers Expect Control

Disney’s Iger Welcomes Direct-to-Consumer Relationship

Same Old, Same Old UHD Flicks on Netflix

 

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China Telecom Specifies that TVs Will Have G.hn Built In

- TVs from Skyworth, Hisense, Haier, TCL, Changhong, Konka & Others to Come with G.hn-capable TVs

Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover but you get some sense of a book by the synopsis and the excerpts from reviews that are printed on the book’s outer jacket. John Egan may or may not have thought of the China strategy for G.hn but as president of the HomeGrid Forum he executed it well, at least as we saw it from the outside. Here is more good news from China for G.hn from www.cctime.com, as translated with some help from Google and edited by The Online Reporter.

China Telecom’s first smart TV, called “pleasure-me,” is the Skyworth model E690C, which includes the powerline version of G.hn. That means when users plug the smart TV into an AC outlet, they get both electrical power and access via a network to the Net. It’s truly “plug and play,” not “plug and plug and plug and play.” It also has Wi-Fi for connecting mobile devices. The CCTime Web site said the Skyworth E690C TV has superior hardware quality and a perfect design.

It uses an ARM quad-core A94 core processor and has 2 GB of DDR3 memory, which it said can significantly improve the speed and efficiency of the television It also has a top-of-the-line 4K chip to give users ultra-high definition visual enjoyment.

The article definitively says the E690C is the world’s first to have an ITU-T G.hn standard chip.

The Skyworth E690C will, it said, bring China Telecom subscribers “information services, including education, health, shopping, games, entertainment and many other applications.” It said it’s a “real smart home entertainment center.”

To see the original article in Chinese, click on: http://demo.dianlake.com/tag/china-telecom-first-smart-tv-wyatt-me-come-loaded-cat-power-module
or
http://www.cctime.com/html/2014-9-16/2014916817303110.htm

According to other sources (none of which is the HomeGrid Forum or any of its members), the first “pleasure-me” G.hn-capable STBs from Skyworth will be on the market “in the near future.” When China Telecom calls, TV setmakers respond. Similar G.hn capable “pleasure me” smart TV sets are expected from Hisense, Haier, TCL, Changhong, Konka and others.

We have been told that the Chinese phrase “pleasure me” is a dynamite marketing term.

Marvell is said to be the supplier of the G.hn chips, not surprising because of its many connections in China.

Yang Jie, general manager of China Telecom Group, said the era of optical broadband services and home networking has arrived.

China Telecom is also the exclusive telco partner for distributing Microsoft’s Xbox One game in China It’s a major breakthrough for Microsoft because Sony is not permitted to sell its PlayStation products in China.

From our viewpoint, this seems to confirm what the HomeGrid folks have been saying about their successes in China because China Telecom has more wireline subscribers than any other telco in the world. If it rolls out the “pleasure me” TVs and service service throughout it fiber footprint, many G.hn chips will be sold. Marvell appears to be getting the orders now but it’s expected that a Chinese or Taiwanese maker of G.hn chips will begin to get some orders. The China telecom order alone may repay Marvell’s investment in G.hn.

The Chinese setmakers that will produce …

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G.fast Is Here! ‘Ultra Broadband for the Masses’

- Sckipio’s G.fast Chipsets Enable 1 Gbps over Telcos’ Existing Copper Phone Wires

Israeli startup Sckipio was founded specifically to develop and produce chips that adhere to a new ITU standard called G.fast, which allows telcos to offer fiber-like speeds of up to 1 Gbps over 250 meters of their existing copper telephone wires. It’s an FTTdp broadband technology, the “dp” being a “distribution point” in a neighborhood or MDU that connects up to 16 pairs of the copper phone wires that run to residences.

Sckipio this week said that its G.fast doors are open for business in an announcement about its G.fast chipsets at Broadband Taiwan during an Institute for Information Industry (III) Generation G meeting.

If it performs “as advertised,” G.fast’s speeds will keep telcos competitive with cablecos and other broadband service providers that are building all-fiber networks such as Google in the States and Hyperoptic in the UK. G.fast speed is not shared with other subscribers as is done by the cablecos’ DOCSIS broadband technology.

The speed is for two way use, so it might be 800 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up, depending on the telco’s or the consumer’s preference. But even 500 Mbps in either direction is much more than is currently needed for available applications such as multiple streams of UHD videos. Netflix says it needs 12-15 Mbps for its UHD streams. Others have said 32 Mbps is needed per UHD stream to ensure absolutely flicker-free videos of fast-action scenes such as sports.

Sckipio VP of marketing, Michael Weissman, called Sckipio’s implementation of G.fast “ultra broadband for the masses” and said it brings consumers “the full potential of the Internet to billions.” He said G.fast will accelerate the growth of the UHD TV market (but not as much, we think, as UHD sets that are priced for the mass market).

According to Weissman’s calculations, telcos will need G.fast or all-fiber to deliver multiple streams of UHD videos to the home. He said ideally, UHD streaming content needs 100% extra capacity (headroom) to guarantee a flicker-free video. He said a UHD stream requires about 20-25 Mbps per UHD stream. With 100% headroom, that comes to 40-50 Mbps of bandwidth. He said four streams will require a broadband service provider to have 160-200 Mbps of bandwidth. Telcos, he said, have only two choices: all-fiber or G.fast’s hybrid fiber/copper technology. He also said G.fast’s higher speeds will accommodate the increasing use of cloud-based services and other applications.

Sckipio surprised many broadband followers by announcing it is:

a) The first to ship G.fast chipsets — two of them, one for use in the neighborhood distribution points that are used connect fiber to the residences’ copper telephone wires, and another for use in equipment that goes in the subscriber’s home, typically a modem or gateway.

b) Offering what it calls the world’s fastest G.fast chips.

c) Publicly showing a G.fast reference board it has built as an example for equipment makers. It showed us pictures of the prototype board but would not let us have them for competitive reasons.

d) Announcing deals with four equipment makers that will produce products that are based on Sckipio’s G.fast chips: Suttle, XAVi [which also announced this week] and Zinwell will supply both distribution point units (DPU), which connect fiber to up to 16 pairs of telephone wires that go to residences, and consumer premises equipment (CPE). VTech will offer a DPU device, a residential gateway (which generally includes the modem and the Wi-Fi router) and a bridge device.

Sckipio thinks it may be as much as a year ahead of any other chipmaker at producing G.fast chips.

Sckipio co-founder and CEO David Baum said, “Sckipio is delivering on the full promise of G.fast. With Sckipio’s new G.fast chipsets, service providers won’t have to wait to get real G.fast with all the features and benefits that G.fast has to offer.”

Sckipio’s G.fast argument is two-fold: increased speeds, which telcos need to compete against cablecos as well as keep subscribers and regulators happy, and economical. It cites studies that show the cost of deploying fiber over the last 200 meters to the residence is $1,500 per home and months of delays but the cost of using G.fast instead of all fiber over the last 200 yards is $300 per home and only a few days.

Because G.fast uses existing telephone wire, modems and gateways can be shipped direct to subscribers for self-install. It eliminates drilling into walls, digging up yards and dealing with time-consuming in-home installations done by technicians.

Cost Comparison: All Fiber versus G.fast

 

Sckipio is careful to emphasize several points about its G.fast chips:
– Speed capacity of the chips is up to 1 Gbps, not the 500 Mbps Sckipio had previously told The Online Reporter would initially be the speed.
– The chips are not a re-spin of previous VDSL solutions.
– The DPU chips simultaneously supports four 1 Gbps G.fast ports and up to 10 Gbps of aggregated backhaul.
– The DPU chips have full built-in vectoring support for as many as 64 subscribers.
– The DPU uses electrical power from a subscriber’s modem (reverse power) so no electrical outlet is need at the distribution point.

Sckipio has produced reference designs of circuit boards for equipment makers to use when developing DPU and CPE devices. It has been working with both equipment makers and telcos to develop and test products and is already shipping engineering samples of the two G.fast chipsets.

There will be other G.fast chipmakers besides Sckipio. Broadcom, Huawei and Ikanos are said to be developing G.fast chips. Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent and Adtran are expected to make G.fast products for telcos. BT, Swisscom, Telekom Austria, and Deutsche Telekom are reportedly testing G.fast in their labs. BT has stated publicly that it is happy with the results so far, so happy that it has set up a special lab to test G.hn with help from the likes of Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and unnamed others.

 

In the States AT&T and CenturyLink, which have large copper wire networks and are feeling pressure from their cableco rivals, are prospects for G.fast but neither has made a public statement. Although Verizon has fibered up 70% of the homes in its footprint, the remaining 30% is a very large market. Its copper wire broadband subscribers are susceptible to being picked off by the local cableco, not only for broadband but also telephony. Verizon has told us repeatedly its future is FiOS and cellular but G.fast may prompt it to rethink its broadband strategy.

Sckipio the Company
Sckipio, which has raised $10 million from investors, is especially proud of the engineering team it has assembled: more than 30 people with over 200 years in combined telecom experience and whose work has resulted in 50 million devices being installed worldwide at over 80 telcos. Many of them came from CopperGate, the Israeli developer and producer of HPNA chips that was later acquired by Sigma Designs.

It’s also proud that its engineers have contributed 20% of the intellectual property that’s in the G.fast standard.

Sckipio is a member of the ITU and the Broadband Forum, as might be expected. It’s also a member of Celtic-Plus (see: http://celticplus.eu), European research initiative that…

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Technicolor Takes a Huge Leap Toward Live UHD 4K Broadcasts

- Conducts Tests at a Sinclair Local TV Station
– A Single Platform Includes All Future Broadcast Technologies
– Broadcasts to HD or UHD TVs and Mobile Devices

Many people that have watched their local stations’ broadcasts over antennae rather than from a pay TV service are stunned by the video quality they see.

Local stations typically broadcast their primary channel in full uncompressed 1080p, which is rarely offered by pay TV companies. Imagine if those broadcasts were UHD!

 

Live TV broadcast studio

Live TV studio broadcast

Sinclair, a US owner/operator of about 164 local TV stations, has tested Technicolor’s next-generation broadcast technology in an experiment that could enable local TV stations to broadcast UHD/4K signals to special or specially-modified UHD TVs much sooner than had been expected. If stations deploy the technology in the near future they would be well ahead of pay TV services in offering live UHD content. It would also immediately increase demand for now affordable UHD TVs, which would also and unintentionally increase the demand for UHD videos from OTT services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon as well as perhaps others such as Hulu and Apple’s iTunes.

The test gear is an early version of ATSC 3.0, local stations’ next big broadcast technology. The technology package that Technicolor assembled also includes such industry standards as Scalable HEVC (SHVC) for compression/decompression, MPEG-H audio and MPEG-MMT transport. It was the first use of SHVC compression during a live broadcast. SHVC Scalable HEVC Video Coding (SHVC) could make the signal backwards compatible with existing screens, although not their tuners.

It’s the first successful broadcast of compression anywhere in the world and the first successful integration of MPEG-MMT A/V transport technology, which is enhanced with Technicolor’s fast channel change and staggercast technologies to ensure consumers do not lose audio capabilities even when reception and video are not seamless experiences.

There’s a bonus. These are the technologies that are needed to work together to broadcast live 4K scalable video and audio to over-the-air antennas and also live-streamed to mobile devices such as smartphone and tablets.

Who needs Aereo?

Clearly communicating that UHD and mobile TV are very much on the minds of owners and executives of local TV stations, Sinclair’s VP of technology Mark Aitken said, “Sinclair continues to work to bring future value to all broadcast stakeholders, a future where HDTV and new services can be reliably delivered to tablets and portable devices, and 4K UltraHD to our home audience. These new revenue opportunities bring local broadcasters to the forefront of serving our local markets.”

Faultline’s Peter White said, “The surprise of this experiment is that first it is way ahead of anyone’s expectation for ASTC 3.0, which was meant to be some years away, and secondly shows just how far Technicolor has managed to go in such a short space of time. Most broadcasters had been expecting that HD broadcasting would be their last over-the-air technology and are all looking at sending TV signals over the open Internet as OTT signals.”

Technicolor’s SVP of corporate development and technology Vince Pizzica said, “Technicolor has created an integrated platform, not just a single component such as audio or video, which enables us to do real-world deployments and testing of this exciting next generation ATSC 3.0 technology.”

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UK Prices of Samsung’s UHD 4K TV Sets Drop Dramatically

- ‘If You’re Needing a New TV, Make Sure It’s A 4K UHD One’
– ‘A Better Real Life Effect Than the 3D TV’s’

It’s hard to convince those that haven’t yet purchased a UHD TV that it’s not the lack of UHD content that’s holding back sales of UHD TVs. It’s price, pure and simple, price (as has been documented by The Online Reporter in various stages of this year). UHD sets with good upconversion technology, like Samsung’s and Sony’s, make all 1080p HD videos look better, much better — and improves most videos that are in lower resolutions. The barrier to the mass market has been the high prices of UHD sets — $2,000 and over. That’s rapidly changing, first in the States, starting at the beginning of summer, and now it’s starting to happen in Europe.

The prices for Samsung’s UHD sets have suddenly dropped dramatically in the UK. Samsung has launched its entry-level 6900 series of UHD sets (equivalent to the 6950 series in the States). There are some differences such as the UK models having Freeview HD & Freesat HD plus the voltage is 220 volts, unlike the States’ 110 volts. Like the 6950s in the States, Wi-Fi is included but not 3D — but then who cares about 3D because 3D fans already have 3D sets.

Amazon.co.uk’s prices are:
Size                 UK price          Equivalent US $s
40-inch            £569.50            $915
50-inch            £967.03            $1,550
55-inch            £1,099.00         $1,760

 

Currys PC World store UK

Currys – retail outlet

Currys, the UK’s largest chain of CE stores now also offers the Samsung 6900 series. Currys’ prices are slightly higher than Amazon.co.uk but we don’t expect that to last very long because buyers will do Web comparisons. In the States the Best Buy checkout clerks will look up Amazon and other Web store prices for shoppers.

The US has more and fiercer UHD price competition than the UK because LG has not yet launched its entry-level UHD sets in the UK and neither Vizio nor Seiki offer their sets there.

‘All I Can Say Is 4K Is Stunning’
Here’s one of the reviews at Amazon.co.uk, edited for grammar. It says what we have been reporting about UHD sets. Please notice that a) UHD content is not needed because upconversion is so good, b) Blu-rays look great and c) it’s a future proof purchase:

“I have had this TV a day now. All I can say is 4K is stunning. There’s not a lot of 4K content around at the moment, but this TV has the YouTube app as well as a lot of other apps and an Internet browser. So I was able to watch the 4K videos from there. The pure sharpness and detail and colors made me feel like I was almost there. And to be honest, a better real life effect than the 3D TV’s I’ve seen without having to wear any glasses, too.

“I watched some footage recorded in UHD from a Galaxy S5 via my Wi-Fi onto the TV and the quality is unbelievable. And to say it’s been recorded with a mobile phone! The video quality doesn’t get better than this. Even my Blu-ray films look better as this TV upscales to make them look even better than standard HD. Even non-HD TV broadcasts looks better but look outdated when you have just been watching 4K stuff for a while.

“This TV has Freeview HD and Freesat HD built in so that’s at least one box less for me under the TV. It has game modes and even a football mode. It also has really good sound quality with lots of sound modes.

“It comes with two remotes: one is a standard remote control that you would normally get and to be honest the only one I’ve used so far. The other is an oval shaped remote that is used for voice commands and other stuff. I can’t really say much more about that at the moment as I’m quite happy using the standard remote (call me old-fashioned). It also comes with a remote extender if needed.

“All I can say is if you’re needing a new TV, make sure it’s a 4K UHD one and for the price I got this 50-inch so there’s no excuse. It’s worth every penny with the 40-inch version coming in at under a grand [in £s]. Netflix is building its 4K content and I’m sure it won’t be long before Sky launches a 4K channel. So why buy a TV that’s not future proof? I fully recommend this TV and so far found no faults at all.”

Even if that was written by a Samsung or Amazon employee, it’s a very accurate description.

See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/SAMSUNG-LCD-50HU6900-LED-200Hz/dp/B00KERIPEC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1412617105&sr=8-3&keywords=samsung+6900+4k

 

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Is G.fast about to Pop Out of the Toaster?

G.fast broadband technology might be arriving just in time to save the telcos from further losses of broadband subscribers to the cablecos.

G.fast is an ITU broadband standard that promises fiber-like speeds up to 1 Gbps over existing copper telephone wires as long as 250 meters. We have been told that some initial products — chips and equipment — will be available for telcos to test before the end of this year.

G.fast promises to radically change the speeds that telcos can offer subscribers — and without having the cost and mess of deploying fiber all the way to the residence. Some G.fast backers say that it will postpone by as much as a decade or two the telcos’ need to build all-fiber networks.

The Online Reporter has published over 50 articles about G.fast since the standard first emerged in January 2012. The pace of G.fast’s development has quickened in recent months.

Last week BT, somewhat surprisingly because it has not started deploying it, announced its plans to build a special lab for testing G.fast, with ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and some unnamed other companies.

 

BT HQ Jul 2014

BT head office at St. Pauls, London

BT said its initial tests of G.fast have shown it’s capable of 800 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up over 19 meter lengths. At 66 meters, it said, it had achieved speeds of around 700 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up. That’s far less than what G.fast is promised to provide when it’s fully developed and fine-tuned: 1 Gbps at distances up to 250 meters.

The first G.fast article we published was about the Israel-based Sckipio that was founded by a number of ex-CopperGate employees specifically to help with the development of the ITU’s G.fast standard and to then get G.fast chips to market before anyone else.

Chipmakers Sckipio, Broadcom, Ikanos, Lantiq and chipmaker/equipment maker Huawei have been involved in the development of the G.fast standard, now 300 pages long, as have telcos BT and Orange (France Telecom) plus equipment makers Alcatel-Lucent, ADTRAN and others.

No chipmaker has yet said when its G.fast chips will be available or when G.fast products will come to market but we expect announcements about some of both by year-end, more likely sooner rather than later.

Broadband Taiwan is being held next week —October 8-11 — in Taipei, Taiwan. See: http://10times.com/broadband-taiwan

The biggest broadband show of them all is the Broadband World Forum that will be held October 21 – 23 in Amsterdam.

They are the…

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Sigma Designs Firms Up G.hn Strategy

- Elaborates on G.hn-HomePlug Coexistence
-Supplies Chips for a G.hn-to-Wi-Fi Adapter

Some say that G.hn has been in development longer than a fine Scotch whisky is aged but it’s coming to market, perhaps faster than people outside the G.hn community realize.

We asked Sigma Designs about its recently added capability for G.hn devices to coexist (but not interoperate) on the same powerlines as HomePlug (HP) devices. Coexistence is a feature that could be beneficial to consumers or telcos that have existing HomePlug network devices and want to switch to G.hn but without having to remove their existing HomePlug devices.

Reuven Franco, G.hn Product Manager for Sigma Designs, answered:

“The coexistence mechanism is applied to all HomePlug AV products. HomePlug AV and AV2 devices are handled in the same manner.

“G.hn is superior in real-life environments. It has been proven by multiple service providers on three continents.

“G.hn also performs well in scalability. It can be used to add more and more and more devices to a network.

Franco promised to provide more information about how this feature was received at the recent IBC trade show and the reactions of equipment makers and telcos, many of whom have deployed or encouraged the deployment of HomePlug AV.

Sigma Designs is somewhat conflicted when it comes to comparing G.hn and HomePlug. It’s a member of the HomePlug Alliance and makes HomePlug chips so it’s reluctant to make public comparisons of G.hn and HomePlug’s performance — despite our pleadings.

Where’s the Beef?
We are frequently asked by G.hn competitors whether we have ever seen a G.hn adapter other than at a trade show. We can confirm that today two G.hn-to-Ethernet adapters have been shipped to us for testing. We’ll provide test results and pictures as soon as possible, especially how it compares to the 11ac version of Wi-Fi in rooms that have been difficult for Wi-Fi to reach.

G.hn-to-Wi-Fi Adapter
Here is a picture of a G.hn-to-Wi-Fi adapter that will be available to retailers and operators. The G.hn chips are from Sigma designs. It’s intended to be used in rooms that don’t have adequate Wi-Fi coverage from the home’s main Wi-Fi router.

G.hn-to-Wi-Fi Adapter

 

It’s made by Taiwanese equipment maker Tecom and was shown at the IBC trade show. It has the 11n version of Wi-Fi but could, we suppose, be equipped with the newer 11ac version. It’s said to work on both 110v and 220v, 50Hz or 60Hz, and is said to automatically adjust to whatever voltage it’s plugged into. There are two models, one with the AC plugs for North America and another for countries with different plugs.

Its model number is HD3010. Tecom also makes a model HD3010 that is a G.hn-to-Ethernet adapter, which uses the existing powerline to make Ethernet available in multiple rooms without the need for installing a separate coax or Ethernet cable.

Tecom did not say when the product will be available. It has traditionally sold its products, both wireline and wireless, to telcos who deploy them, many times under their own names.

 

The Difficulty of Getting Publishable Information

Chipmakers and equipment are reluctant to discuss specifics about happenings at operators such as the results from lab and field tests as well as actual orders and deployments even when they are well underway. Operators don’t want to make known their tests of new technology until they are ready to deploy — actually ship and deploy.

They don’t want to stimulate market demand before they are ready to fill it and there are always regulatory concerns to consider.

That’s why we were surprised last week to hear from BT that it’s actually testing the new G.fast broadband technology.

However…

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Lantiq Enables 200 Mbps over 200 Meters of Copper Wires

- Its FTTdp Technology Is Available Now
Alcatel Lucent, ZTE, T&W & Aethra Are Onboard

An executive at a major US telco once asked, back in the dawn of the digital media era, “Why would anyone need 1 Mbps in their home?” Until recently, we said that 50 Mbps was sufficient for most residences but the changing market for OTT services has prompted us to increase that to 100 Mbps or more.

Chipmaker Lantiq has pioneered a broadband technology called FTTdp (fiber-to-the-distribution-point) that allows telcos to offer speeds in excess of 100 Mbps without having to install fiber all the way to the home. Its newest FTTdp chipset, called Vinax dp, allows telcos to offer speeds up to 200 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up without the costly, messy and time consuming process of deploying fiber all the way to each residence. The fiber that the Vinax-capable equipment is connected to can be as far as 200 meters away from the residence. That’s a long way when you’re digging trenches or stringing fiber on poles. The savings for telcos in not having to build all-fiber networks is in the billions of dollars and it’s hundreds of thousands of work hours.

The three changes in the market that have caused us to increase the amount of broadband bandwidth that we think most homes need are:

1. The recent surge in sales of UHD TV sets, made possible by their fast-falling prices and their ability to upconvert 1080p video to near UHD quality. Native UHD content is and will be available from OTT services for at least another year.
2. The continued proliferation and use of mobile viewing devices (tablets and smartphones) and smart TVs.
3. The continuing increase in the popularity of OTT service (there is one estimate that says it found that viewing OTT is now 90 minutes per day) and the move by pay TV services, traditional pay TV networks and movie studios to use OTT to deliver content to mobile devices and even to smart TVs and smart TV adapters.

Telcos and their suppliers are developing alternative copper wire technologies that allow their existing copper wire telephone wires to provide speeds that:
a) Keep the wolf (the cableco) away from their subscribers.
b) Keep subscribers happy especially for simultaneously streaming multiple high-quality videos
c) Keep government politicians and regulators happy.

Lantiq’s FTTdp technology is a universal solution because it works with telcos’ existing standards-compliant fiber and copper wire equipment, regardless of the manufacturer. That means telcos can use Lantiq’s dp technology with their existing networks and that many subscribers can use their existing gateways/modems. Telcos do not have to send a technician into the home. Many installed modems have a technology called Profile 30a and so can already process these higher data rates. It’s “plug and play” for many existing subscribers and “ship, plug and play” for new subscribers or those that need a new modem — no technician needed and none of that “between 8 AM and noon” scheduling that infuriates subscribers.

Installing an FTTdp Box on a Telephone Pole

 

Lantiq’s Vinax dp chipset goes in a small, palm-sized and leak-proof box that a telco can install in a neighborhood, even on a telephone pole. The installation time per box is only a few minutes. No electrical outlet is needed because the box is powered by subscribers’ modems/gateways.

The box with the FTTdp technology is weather resistant:
– It operates in a wide range of outdoor temperatures from -40 to +85 Centigrade.
– The box can be completely sealed from the weather because it does not need to be cooled — no fan is needed in the dp box.

The FTTdp technology is particularly suited for MDUs or complexes where multiple residences are close together. In MDUs, telcos won’t need to get the building owner’s permission to install new wiring because it can all be done outside the building.

Equipment makers Alcatel Lucent, ZTE, T&W, and Aethra Telecommunications have tested the technology and commercial dp boxes are currently available. With that crowd of equipment makers on-board, it’s almost certain that telcos are already placing orders for Lantiq’s FTTdp chipsets.

There’s a video about the product with Lantiq’s marketing manager for FTTdp Stefan Hirscher at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B0R6iqAz8g

We also have an in-depth translation that Hirscher did with a German publication that we’ll send to anyone that emails paperboy@riderresearch.com and requests it.

Hirscher says in the interview, “Bandwidth demand will grow to 100 Mbps or more downstream by 2020. In some regions there are the statutory requirements. For example, data rates of 100 Mbps are supposed to be available to half of all EU households by 2020.

No one argues that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is not the most future-proof broadband. However, it’s costly, messy and time-consuming to install — estimates are that telcos would have to spend billions of dollars to fully deploy all fiber networks. Its deployment also requires…

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6 Things We Learned in Retail Stores This Week about UHD

by Charles Hall

Most people would agree that what salespeople say about their products has to be taken with a grain of salt but that there are grains of truth in what they say.

This week, we visited two major electronics retail stores and talked to their sales reps about UHD TVs. Here’s a collection of what they said:

  1. Both sales reps rated the picture quality of the UHD sets in the same order:
    Samsung
    Sony
    LG
  2. Videos on Blu-ray discs look fantastic on UHD sets — an immediately noticeable difference. Anyone that has a sizeable quantity of Blu-ray discs should rush out and immediately buy a UHD TV. We totally agree with this point after having watched a number of Blu-ray discs on a Samsung UHD set. Watching a Blu-ray disc doesn’t impact broadband and home networking performance in the way that watching an OTT-delivered UHD video does but it should encourage consumers to buy UHD sets. Unfortunately, one of the sales reps did not know this and neither store was showing Blu-ray on a UHD set.
  3. Not only were the stores not showing how beautiful Blu-ray is on UHD set, neither was showing content from the locally available pay TV services. They were only showing made-for-UHD content, mainly movies and videos that were shot for demonstrating how picture perfect UHD is. All brand name UHD TVs upscale (also called upconversion) the 720p and 1080p signals that pay TV services offer.
  4. Both sales reps prefer the Samsung UHD set to the Sony or LG. Both liked the Samsung’s brighter picture over the Sony’s deeper colors. One said many consumers that see both prefer the Sony, so it’s a matter of taste. One store had two of the same Sony models side-by-side and the rep said a Sony person had tuned them so was one was brighter like the Samsung, and the other looked like Sony’s traditional out-of-the box picture.
  5. Price wise, when comparing Samsung and LG, the Samsung was $100 less in every case than the LG that was the same size.
  6. One sales rep said it would be three or four years before Vizio had a UHD set, a claim that’s hard to believe in light of Vizio’s statements at CES and since. He said Vizio did not develop technology but went to China and purchased cheaper imitation components.

Best Buy has upgraded one of its stores so it has a Magnolia center where it shows high-end video and audio gear. The entry-level Samsung UHD sets were not in the Magnolia center or even in the store’s main TV display area. They were in a different part of the store.

 

1280px-Bestbuy-2edmonton6748

 

The question is whether Best Buy is throwing good money after bad when upgrading its stores because of consumers’ increasing proclivities to buy online — even including pricey high-end CE gear. Best Buy stores are pricey to own, always in high-end retail space and with loads of inventory, and pricey to operate with a high percentage of sales reps per shopper. On one hand, you can’t visit an Amazon store to see how good a UHD TV looks. On the other hand, once a friend or a neighbor gets a UHD set, you might not need to visit a brick and mortar store to be convinced to buy one.

After we told the Best Buy cashier that the price of an unmarked collection of 23 James Bond flicks on Blu-ray — from “Dr No” to “Skyfall” — was a bit much, she voluntarily checked the bar code that’s on the box at several online sites including Amazon and reduced the price by over $50. Having to match prices offered by online retailers while at the same time owning and operating expensive retail stores is a tough challenge for top management.

Summary
The idea that UHD sets won’t sell in large quantities until large quantities of UHD content is available is a fallacy.

Retail stores have not set up their demonstration areas for UHD sets properly. None show what

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