By Rich Nesin, General Manager and Resident Philosopher, HomePNA
When I wrote back in May about the FCC’s AllVid NOI, I claimed that it would make “them more like us”. Why, you may be wondering, is that a good thing and does he have any idea what he is talking about? Good questions. Well it so happens, I did file a comment on behalf of HomePNA (to see the comment go to the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, plug in docket number 10-91 and the name of the filer - which in this case is HomePNA). In my humble opinion, we raised pithy and thought provoking issues that need to be addressed if the FCC decides to proceed with the proposal.
If you look at the AllVid comments you might see some common themes -- like don’t mandate technology, let the market decide, technology moves quickly, and of course, if the Commission does decide to move forward with the AllVid proposal, please select …. (you get the idea). HomePNA’s comments were mostly based on the lessons we’ve learned providing home networking equipment for telco IPTV-based television service. Quoting from the Comment, “there is a very close correspondence between the IP/home networking architecture that telcos currently deploy for IPTV and the “second configuration home gateway” architecture proposed in the Notice. The major difference between the two is the addition of the AllVid adapter” (check it out, it’s on page 19). True enough but, to be honest, the FCC’s proposal is a lot more challenging.
Think about it. When a service provider (called a Multichannel Video Programming Distributor or MVPD in the NOI) installs a home network they most likely understand the application and requirements. They may have done extensive testing of the available technologies and probably have a good idea of the other services running on the wires. They may even have selected a technology like HomePNA that supports remote management and diagnostics. In the AllVid proposal the MVPD interface (the AllVid adapter) is moved to the edge where it becomes a node on the home network– so how does the MVPD know that the home network is capable of carrying the video traffic?
Well the FCC could mandate technology but this hasn’t worked out so well in the past. It could establish basic requirements but this also has shortcomings since technology tends to moves forward. Face it, new applications are invented everyday. And there are some really good home networking technologies available today and more on the way (and after those there will be more even faster ones). These are all pretty robust technologies, at least in demo rooms. Marketing claims aside, all home networks are subject to house construction, the condition of the wiring and connectors, the correct installation of the equipment, etc. If you don’t believe me, ask the installers. There’s a reason that service providers – IPTV, cable and DBS - do the installations themselves (and it's not because they want to). There are solutions to this and other issues. I think they will be adopted over time and it's important that they are.