The battle to reach ‘convergence 4.0’

Kuldip-Johal---Vice-President-Sales---Subscription-Broadcasting

By Kuldip Singh Johal, Vice President Sales – Subscription Broadcasting, UEI

Now, it could be at the heart of convergence, providing users with a single device with which to perform synergised functions, controlling everything from the television to your home’s temperature, security and lighting. However, with established technology manufacturers competing against smaller, yet more agile, counterparts, who will win convergence 4.0?

While there are a handful of manufacturers most of us will associate with smart home technology, many paid TV operators and telecommunication companies are turning their backs on these devices, thus creating space for some of the smaller brands to rise to the top. Not only are devices created by these big brands more expensive for paid TV operators to deploy, but they are also less adaptable for their needs. Conversely, by partnering up with smaller manufacturers to create bespoke solutions, paid TV operators can be in control of their own destiny and create their own eco-system on which they can build in the future. This is a fluidity that isn’t offered by larger branded devices where the roadmaps for convergence are already set out for them.

Solutions developed with telcos and paid TV operators in mind also allow them to have more autonomy in their approach to the market, rather than following the trends as dictated by large manufacturers. This is a key issue in convergence as with paid TV operators on side, the smaller manufacturers have the potential to tap into different insights and develop new capabilities.

Currently, many consumers are turned off by the idea of convergence due to the difficulties they face with configuration and setting up smart devices. For the average person, configuring multiple devices can be daunting and seem like it may require some engineering know-how, which can deter consumers from buying new devices or attempting to integrate them. Difficulties with configuring, discovering and controlling devices are among the biggest pain points for consumers of smart devices and is something that needs to be considered in relation to convergence.

It is vital that manufacturers and industry leaders address these pain points in order to make convergence and configuration a frictionless and simple process for the end user. This is also likely to lead to increased uptake of smart devices. Users require intuitive devices which are capable of automatically recognising new devices and help the user to configure them. However, many of the key players within the industry are yet to offer devices capable of this. Should manufacturers, and the bigger market challengers such as Amazon and Google, want to attract audiences, the need for end-to-end solutions which simplify the process of migration to the smart home for the end user needs to be considered. For example, devices should offer simplistic, voice-based processes to increase ease of use.

Additionally, the winner of convergence 4.0 will produce devices which are capable of ‘learning’ set skills. As well as being intuitive in recognising other devices, these devices must also intuit what a user requires when they perform certain commands. For example, ultimate convergence will come when users are able to ask their device to enter ‘movie mode’, for instance, and the device will not only play a movie but will also draw the curtains and dim the lights.

Voice-Remote---ConvergenceIt is our view, that as many smart devices make use of voice-control, the two issues are intrinsically linked. Therefore, to win convergence 4.0, you must also be one step ahead in the fight for the voice-assistant market. The uptake of voice-controlled devices is growing significantly with a recent study finding that 1 in 6 adults in the US now owns a voice-activated smart speaker and 65% say they wouldn’t want to go back to a life without these devices. Their popularity and ease of use show that this technology should be a key feature for the future of convergence.

Given the current difficulties associated with configuring devices, the real winner of convergence will be the company that can make integrating these devices into the home it as easy and seamless as possible. At the moment, convergence is currently being driven primarily by the market as a pre-emptive strike to anticipate the needs of consumers. While the big names currently have a monopoly on this market, convergence 4.0 could be a case of the tortoise and the hare as smaller manufacturers step up their approach to the market. With a more insightful view of the requirements of not only the user but also telecommunication companies, these brands could be better able to tailor their offerings more precisely to suit the users’ needs.

ELO, Eutelsat first low earth orbit satellite designed for the IoT

Eutelsat Communications, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, has commissioned a nano-satellite from manufacturer Tyvak International SRL, a subsidiary of Terran Orbital Corporation, a leading aerospace provider of nanosatellite and microsatellite vehicles and services. Eutelsat LEO for Objects (ELO) will be used to assess the performance of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites in providing narrowband connectivity for objects. The satellite operator will be drawing on the technology of Sigfox, which runs a unique global narrowband network dedicated to the IoT.

Low earth orbit is particularly well-suited to narrowband connectivity for objects. It offers a satellite link anywhere in the world, is complementary to terrestrial IoT networks, and does not impact the cost or the energy consumption of the objects. ELO, scheduled for launch in 2019, will backhaul information from objects located in areas that are not served by terrestrial networks and offer redundancy on existing terrestrial network coverage.

Sigfox will work with Eutelsat on two aspects: analyse the spectrum used by the satellite in ISM frequency bands; and process data from objects. ELO will also test connectivity in other frequency bands. The synergies developed through the partnership with Sigfox, as well as with other strategic alliances in the telecom industry, should open up new opportunities for Eutelsat in this fast-growing market.

Jean-Hubert Lenotte, Chief Strategy Officer at Eutelsat, commented: “With the expansion of the Internet of Things, new services are being developed in a wide range of sectors including smart cities, the mining industry, agriculture and logistics. We are delighted to be exploring new avenues through the development of this nano-satellite, which once again demonstrates the intrinsic complementarity between terrestrial networks and satellite technology. By analysing the compatibility of LEO and connected objects, and working with recognised partners in the field, Eutelsat aims to provide an innovative solution which will meet the needs of future clients.”

How does it work?

Located on a sun-synchronous orbit between 500 and 600 km in altitude, the satellite will collect data from connected objects across the globe equipped with the same omni-directional antennas already used by terrestrial IoT networks. Data will then be transmitted daily to a ground station located on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Eutelsat

More info