Broadband Applications and the Digital Home

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  • Author:

  • Year: 2002

  • Format: Hardback

  • Product Code: PBBT0050

  • ISBN: 978-0-85296-428-6

  • Pagination: 304pp.

  • Stock Status: In stock

£63.70 Member price

£98.00 Full price


Scope: This book explores the technological challenges and applications of providing fast, "always on" internet connections to the home. Current delivery mechanisms of broadband into and around the home are explored in depth, as well as the current and emerging applications of the technology. The authors discuss what drives people to adopt the technology, how it is being used, the massive potential for the technology, and the home of the future. This fascinating book provides balanced coverage of the issues surrounding this next phase of the Internet that promises to transform the our homes and the way we live.

Book review

"As 'broadband' is rolling out rapidly in many European countries and worldwide, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

The term 'broadband' means different things to different people. 'Broadband is more bandwidth than you can use', said Mark Bagley of Venation, the web-acceleration company. In this book, 'broadband' stands for a digital communication technology (such as ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) which can convey new applications to the user at home via an 'always-on' connection using a copper telephone line.

The emphasis is on the word 'new': this book's focus is on the very diverse applications that may range from some telecom services (such as home automation, surveillance, maintenance and monitoring, VoIP) to interactive entertainment services (video and films on demand, games, multichannel television and radio, fast internet, etc). The targeted reception terminal is a Personal Computer (PC), although television sets - suitably equipped with a dedicated set-top box (STB) and a simple remote control, rather than a keyboard - are becoming more and more popular, even for non-media applications.

One vision of broadband outlined in the book is that it could contain searchable media about 'almost every imaginable subject'. This vision is not too dissimilar to the current Internet paradigm: the Internet contains information about 'almost every imaginable subject'. For example, a quick search over broadband on a particular subject could turn up every music item or documentary or film made about that subject.

Unlike the WWW (which is truly worldwide), broadband makes it easier to satisfy the requirements of copyright holders - due to its restricted geographical reach (e.g. local or city-wide only).

Some broadband networks can be specially designed to carry several tens of television channels of conventional quality to an STB or television set. Several trials of this are being conducted in Europe and elsewhere to ascertain the technical and commercial viability. To this end, broadband has recently raised a lot of discussion among broadcasters. Many broadcasters consider it as an opportunity to bring their programmes to viewers' homes through new channels, and thus provide new revenue opportunities. Other broadcasters are afraid of potential competition to their television services and are strongly opposed to ADSL television.

Several broadcasters are running trials involving several hundreds of home users and families. These trials are being conducted in collaboration with their telecom partners in order to assess the various business models. 

In some cases, these trials are being used as an argument for not investing in terrestrial digital television, thus deferring the introduction of DVB-T in their countries. Nevertheless, it is clear that DVB-T and ADSL TV are two different services and both have their strong and weak points. Therefore, both are needed. For example, if portable and mobile reception is required, DVB-T is a better solution. If interactive TV is required, broadband (which is, by its very nature, two-way) could be a better solution.

The book is grouped into five parts:

Part 1: Delivery to the home - connecting the home to external networks;
Part 2: Networking the home - connecting devices and applications within the home;
Part 3: Living in the digital home - how people use the technology and how technology meets their needs;
Part 4: Applications - which applications can be attractive;
Part 5: The future digital home - what is to come in the future.

The book provides the reader with an insight into what the digital home is likely to look like in the future ... which broadband services will be available ... and which are the key enabling technologies. As it has been written by telecom people (most of the 41 authors come from BTexact Technologies), the book reflects the views of the telecom community, slightly neglecting the broadcasters' views. For example, it is the broadcasters' view that MHP (Multimedia Home Platform) should be the future universal API platform. However the book mentions MHP only in one section as a possible option. 

Live television services are reduced to one service among several tens of others. Conventional STBs and TVs are replaced by a home media center/home gateway to communicate services not only to TV sets but also to laptop and desktop computers, digital cameras, mobile phones, DVD players, stereo stacks, games consoles, PDAs and other domestic appliances.

The book concludes that the future home will be 'intelligent, connected and wireless'. A smart fridge could automatically order fresh milk when the existing supply has passed its best-before date. There have been more useless gadgets invented in the last few years than in any period of human history. Only products that take good account of basic human needs and nature will be successful in the market-place. 

Many existing visions of the future home are based too much on technological capability and take too little account of human nature and every-day life styles, and therefore are doomed to failure. Many of the products hyped for the future home will never achieve significant market success.

Our homes will be smarter than today's but may become infested by myriads of invisible activators and agents - designed to enhance many areas of our lives. There is, however, potential danger that machines could escape from our control, so we must be careful to develop suitable control mechanisms.

In summary, this interesting and well-written book is highly relevant for broadcasters. One of the messages is that media delivery will be facilitated by broadband and that broadband is likely to change the patterns of media consumption. Another message is that radio and television will have to compete with a myriad of other services delivered via broadband and available in the all-digital home.

Franc Kozamernik, EBU Technical Review, No.296, October 2003

Book readership

IT professionals, telecommunications engineers, managers and researchers interested in broadband


Reference, professional, postgraduate.

Book contents

Preface; Part 1 -Delivery to the home; 1: Broadband access technologies - Enrico et al; 2: Satellite - a new opportunity for broadband access - Fidler et al.

Part 2 - Networking the home; 3: Introducing Home Area Networks - J G Turnbull; 4: Broadband in the home - K E Nolde; 5: Residential Gateways - P M Bull et al; 6: Home area network technologies - C E Adams; 7: Standards for broadband customer premises equipment - R I Galbraith.

Part 3 - Living in the digital house; 8: Domesticating Broadband - what consumers really do with flat rate, always on fast internet access, Anderson et al; 9: Is the future really always on? From always on networks to always on sessions - M R Gardner et al; 10: Digital Living - People centred innovation and strategy - B Anderson et al; 11: Digital Homes - for richer for poorer, what are they for? - P A Rout.

Part 4- Applications; 12: Clients ,servers and broadband - making a big difference - Russ & Fisher; 13: Bandwidth-on-demand networks - a solution to peer to peer file sharing - Clark & Tsiaparas; 14: Computer vision for a 3-D visualisation and telepresence collaborative working environment - Xu et al; 15: The Prometheus project - the challenge of disembodied and dislocated performances - Thorne & Chatting.

Part 5- The future digital home; 16: Personal virtual humans - inhabiting the Talkzone and beyond - Ballin et al; 17: Hype and reality in the future home - Patel & Pearson.

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