Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 28, 2006
A technology called place-shifting has been causing quite a stir as of late. The technology, provided by companies like Sony, SlingMedia and Orb, allows users to access their TVs and TiVos remotely. So you can, for example, fire up your laptop in China and watch “Desperate Housewives” recorded on your TiVo back in California.
A slew of recent articles seems to suggest that wired and wireless broadband service providers will do all in their power to fight this place-shifting technology. But I actually think that the opposite will be true: Wireless and wired broadband services providers will jump onto the place-shifting bandwagon, pronto.
Here's why: As consumers access their home TVs wirelessly, their usage of wireless data networks, for example, will increase. The number of subscribers signing up for unlimited data plans will skyrocket.
And I think it likely that wireless carriers will start offering tiered broadband, similar to what wired broadband providers offer already. Basically, if you want higher-quality TV imagery, you'll pay more for your broadband access. A lot of users will pay more to be able to see Teri Hatcher's face more clearly as the "Desperate Housewives" drama unfolds.
I think that wireless service providers stand to make a lot of money on this place-shifting stuff. They should welcome the idea of place-shifting with open arms.
Carriers might have another concern, though: What about their own mobile TV efforts? Wouldn't place-shifting technology pretty much kill those off? Possibly. But, today, most carriers haven't committed that much resources to mobile TV. If someone might be left holding the bag, it will be companies like Qualcomm and Crown Castle, which have been building out special mobile TV networks.
The bottom line: Carriers can make money off of both mobile TV and place-shifting. And I don't see why they should pick one over the other.