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The number of broadband households is reaching the critical mass needed to spur the development of new devices and applications – and that, in turn, will create even more demand for more and better broadband connections. OnLive’s approach to gaming hardware is low-cost and minimalist because the game engine is online. With an increasing demand for Broadband, apartment renters will be putting priorities on apartments with better amenities, including high speed internet and satellite tv.

New consumer applications for ultra-broadband – the kind of high-bandwidth, super-reliable, low-latency, no-monthly-cap broadband that only fiber to the home can deliver – are arriving at an accelerated rate. Here are some of this month’s sightings:

• OnLive’s new gaming service threatens to make gaming hardware go the way of the dinosaur. The company came out of stealth mode to announce an online platform, seven years in development, on which hard-core gamers can play solo or multiplayer games using either a TV (with a tiny, inexpensive “MicroConsole”) or almost any PC or Mac. “No high-end hardware, no upgrades, no endless downloads, no discs, no recalls, no obsolescence,” says Steve Perlman, the company’s founder and CEO. Gamers can watch live games in action, join in at any point, and network with friends. The platform should appeal to publishers and developers because it reduces development costs while expanding the potential market size – and, in fact, most of the major publishers have already signed on (or invested in the company). Because the games run “in the cloud” and not on the user’s computer or console, there’s only one thing required to use OnLive: seriously good broadband.

• Apple just began selling and renting high-definition movies for download through its iTunes store. (Some television episodes were already available in HD.) Where Apple goes, its competitors aren’t far behind. Amazon is rumored to be testing a high-definition progressive download service for movies and TV with some TiVo users. And new technology like Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight lets content providers offer broadband video that automatically adapts to the user’s bandwidth – the higher the bandwidth, the higher the resolution.

• Research firm Parks Associates reports that about 2.5 million broadband households in the US and Canada would be willing to purchase an Internet-connected TV (like the 11 new Wooo models just introduced by Hitachi) at a price premium of $100 over regular TVs. The top application that consumers want through a connected TV is access to video-on-demand content from the Internet (other possible applications are on-screen widgets and playback of content stored on home computers). “Access to additional content is the key demand driver,” notes John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. “Most people can get popular video titles through their pay-TV providers, but if they want to watch niche or personal content on their TV, they have to burn or buy DVDs. With a connected TV, they suddenly have lots more options.” Parks Associates’ finding calls into question the walled-garden approach that is being used by several TV manufacturers, which essentially attempts to recreate the cable VoD offering.

--Broadband Properties Mag.


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