The Internet of Everything: Where Does Cable Stand?

March 5, 2014
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) has been talking a lot lately about the Internet of Everything, which it defi...
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) has been talking a lot lately about the Internet of Everything, which it defines as the networked connection of people, process, data and things. The value of "connecting the unconnected" could be $14.4 trillion to organizations, individuals and governments over the next 10 years.

The company's recent Visual Networking Index Forecast predicts that by 2018, global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 190 exabytes. There will be more than 10 billion mobile devices/connections, including 2 billion machine-to-machine and 176.9 wearable devices. (This total will be 1.4 times greater than the world's projected population.)

So where do cable operators stand in the Internet of Everything?

"They get content packaged into tiers and they market those to the consumer," said J.T. Taylor, Cisco's senior manager, service provider video product marketing. "They also have VOD assets, premium channels, data bundles and voice bundles. The face that they have this heritage of aggregation puts them in a good place to leverage IoE."

Service providers are facing competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers, but are in a prime spot to bundle services beyond their traditional offerings and differentiate themselves. "Inside the home, you need a traffic cop that can take data in, ingest it at the edge of the home and have the sophistication to deliver it where it needs to go," Taylor said. "You need some form of architecture that can (then) deliver data when you leave the home."

The "in," so to speak, at least in the United States, may be security, which some operators have begun providing. If they can build a better mousetrap, so to speak, they can then extend to smart home services: home management, video surveillance, water leak monitoring, etc.

In other parts of the world, the beachhead service might be different. For example, in Italy, energy management is important because if a household uses too much, they lose power for a period of time, Taylor said.

"The average consumer is not looking for the next whiz-bang technology," Taylor said. "(They) are looking for benefits to make their lives better .... As they see the value of connected devices in the home, they are more open to trying new services to better their lives."

Currently, operators providing security and other features are doing so via a separate vertical and user interface. The goal over time is for these services to merge together with video, data, and voice under one umbrella.

"The time frame (for this) is arguable," Taylor said. "For real mass adoption, we (must) see service providers with their aggregation heritage packaging it into something that feels like it comes from the same company."

Other areas in the IoE world where operators might get involved are smart meter management through partnerships with utilities, preventive healthcare, and care for the aging. Then as more "things" get connected, it becomes a matter of managing and leveraging data. For example, school administrators could be alerted when buses arrive, or parents could be alerted when their children are dropped off.

"It's about taking data, putting processes behind it, and delivering something consumers can leverage," Taylor said. "Once services are created and people realize that data can actually help them ... they will be more willing to adjust to life with big data."

Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].