On January 26, Saul Hansell of the New York Times wrote an article on “Convergence” of components, programming and service providers entitled “As Gadgets Get It Together, Media Makers Fall Behind”.

What is still not on the top of the minds of the press and these Convergence Players is getting the story out about the single largest convergence opportunity, how people will watch, listen to and use these new toys in 26 million MDUs and 84 million homes. How will digital signals be received and distributed to them to enjoy the Triple Play?

Control4 Home Automation

The Triple Play is the term used to describe VoIP (Voice over IP), High Speed Broadband Internet (including VoIP and IPTV) and Video (Satellite or Cable/Digital Off-Air/HDTV) in one bundle. His article gets readers half way there, thinking about all the component and programming options. But a major education initiative is still very much needed.

Winegard’s goal is to get these players and the trade press all the way HOME, past the bells and whistles of the components, programmers and content providers (getting almost all the major press so far). “The rest of the story” as Paul Harvey styled, is about MDU and Home Triple Play Signal Distribution and the lack of knowledge in the market place concerning the existing structured wiring signal distribution alternatives and retrofitting of dwellings for the delivery of the Triple Play bundled signal.

The need for delivery of the Triple Play signal in the home is the hottest thing going in signal reception today, along with digital reception itself and so far, is taking second place to the glamour products and media moguls. When the buyers of all these new toys for the home, get them home, this will change.

There are 6 ways to get the Triple Play signals. All are aggressively being pursued by the carriers. All, but structured wiring (cable) have some problems, according to Bob Howell, Director Signal Distribution/Off-Air Antenna Business Group at Winegard:

1. BPL (Broadband over Power Lines) has several limitations. The prime obstacle blocking the use of power line Technology on this scale is interference on the power lines and issues with utility transformers. Other drawbacks include power lines emitting signals inside or outside a home that could cause Internet transmissions interference and power surges can also cause interference.

2. Fiber Optics: The obvious drawback to this Technology is the need to run the fiber optic wire through out the building or home. No problem when building a new property, but a big expense if you have to pull new cable in an existing property.

3. WiMAX – (World Interoperability for Microwave Access) fixed wireless broadband service and is an organization founded in 2001 that promotes the IEEE 802.16 broadband wireless standard and provides certification for devices for compliant devices. WiMAX is designed to extend local Wi-Fi networks across greater distances such as a campus, as well as to provide last mile connectivity to an ISP or other carrier many miles away. It is not a triple play system at this point and probably not for the foreseeable future. It currently operates in unlicensed spectrum. And, satellite program providers aren’t likely to risk their multiplatform futures on a technology vulnerable to interference or national inconsistencies.

Wi-Fi: Its problem has mainly to do with throughput limitations. Each of the three variants of 802.11 (a, b, and g) operates in half-duplex. This transmission scheme, coupled with payload overhead requirements, effectively reduces the maximum usable data throughput to less than 50% of the standard’s stated Datalink rate. Interference comes from two basic sources: CO-channel interferers and foreign interferers. An article on January 26 in New York Times “Dead Spots? Use Your Cable Setup to Send Signals to Every Corner” by Ivan Berger makes this point.

4. Cat-5 is a rating system that refers to the number of twisted pairs of wires in a telephone cable. The more twists, the greater bandwidth and speed and the less interference in the transmission of voice and computer data. Specifying Cat 5, over the more common Cat 3, is an inexpensive upgrade. Again, the draw back to Cat-5, is the time and expense of pulling new wiring.

5. Telephone Lines: With the growing presence of the Internet, the expansion of PCs into the home, and the growing sophistication of entertainment, residential wiring needs are rapidly changing. The copper wiring installed for POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) service in the 1950’s is no longer sufficient to meet the high bandwidth requirements that these modern applications necessitate.

6. Existing RG-6 coaxial cable (now in almost every home): Referred to by Berger and used by Winegard’s new HOME RUN™ Triple Play Signal Distribution product line.

An article appeared on January 17 in Business Week in which an industry analyst was quoted as saying “wired systems are too expensive and slow to deploy” for delivery of the Triple Play bundle. Obviously he hadn’t heard of Winegard’s HOME RUN, which bundles the most-wanted Triple Play services and more, aimed at helping these MDU owners and residential and tens of millions of homeowners take advantage of their one existing coax cable and networks in many new ways and truly have piece-of-mind in the process and services, while actually saving time and money.

In this same article, the author said “Rupert Murdock is…prepared to spend $1 Billion” to get DIRECTV™ into the Triple Play arena, even to the extent that DirecTV is talking with EchoStar about a wireless broadband venture. Almost all of these 26 million Multi-Dwelling-Units (MDUs) in the US (not to mention the 84 million TV homes) can to be retrofitted to receive the full Triple Play package, preferred 3 to 1 over individual services.

And everybody wants in. Who’s everybody? Broadband Service Providers (particularly Internet), Satellite, Cable, Wireless, Telcos and Component Manufacturers, all needing to be a player in the Interconnected CE world. But while investing Billions to update, they all have their own particular problems delivering a total Triple Play signal package (as explained above) comparable with Winegard’s new structured wiring product line, the HOME RUN.

What are they, installers and MDU owners looking for, for “the Digital Media Lifestyle”? A fast, easy, inexpensive, quality solution to deliver this Triple Play signal to all the converging digital products being manufactured for eagerly waiting consumers wanting a connected home.

Besides delivering the Triple Play, Winegard has added its new TRIAD™ Triple-stacking technology to the HOME RUN Bundle for total HDTV reception. Winegard’s TRIAD takes LNB Technology to the next level. Before TRIAD, a minimum of 2 cables had to be pulled to provide full satellite HDTV signals. TRIAD allows new installations and retrofitting of MDUs and SDUs to receive all HD channels from all three satellites, by stacking all 3 signals and combining them onto a single cable.

And to make this HOME RUN Triple Play Bundle absolutely unique, Winegard then added the ability to combine IP/VoIP onto this signal coax as well and then introduced the QuantumAlert™, under an exclusive agreement with Advanced Media Services. It provides proactive web-enabled real-time 24/7 remote monitoring system that simultaneously monitors the entire MDU IP physical signal distribution network of entire property, single buildings and/or an individual users IP connection for advance warning of potential quality of service issues. It also identifies the exact cause of any service related problem as well as, the ability to direct a technician to exactly where the problem can be found, all remotely from the AMS National Operations Center (NOC) located in Ann Arbor, MI. This provides the piece-of-mind currently lacking in the marketplace today and the solution installers and MDU owners are looking for when it comes to IP/VoIP service bundles.

But the bottom line still remains that the HOME RUN delivers the Triple Play Plus, on one existing coax cable, no new wires to pull, no holes in the walls, inexpensively and fast and is unmatched. Winegard will have the HOME RUN live at booth #1311 at EHX Spring in Orlando and Satellite Expo booth #743 in Atlanta. A free one day certification class on the HOME RUN will be offered at both shows. ComponexX is the commercial distributor for the HOME RUN.