The nexus of home entertainment and digital technologies is a great place to be. These digital entertainment technologies are changing the way people live, work and play. Around the world, digitalization is replacing antiquated communications systems, often from more than 30 years ago, and helping to eviscerate the digital divide.
As we stride into this future, I am betting that the rules of the game will constantly change, as they have in the past. Yet I also strongly believe that television and its associated parts will continue to play a large role. Let me quickly take a look at two examples.
HDTV has been touted for years as the next great experience in television. This has not panned out. This next great technology is still attempting to reach five percent market penetration in the U.S. Born in the pre-Internet era, when companies routinely announced new products to great fanfare for strategic egotistical reasons, HDTV's impact has not been felt, leaving manufacturers, service providers and the public to sort out the consequences.
Is interactive TV different? It could be following in the footsteps of HDTV. Here again, as in the case of HDTV, some of the biggest names and egos in the digital world are backing projects associated with iTV. This time it is the folks in Redmond and the chaps in London. These technologists are looking to coordinate digital TV technologies to bring new services to consumers. iTV remains to prove itself, but it is already clear that it cannot work for the final user - the consumer - without the full cooperation of the digital broadband technology providers. Here, I mean those who develop network delivery technologies as well as those who provide consumer or commodity reception technologies.
To avoid consumer bitterness, the last-mile bottleneck needs to be addressed. For the content provider this will depend on interoperable ways and means. Due to the pluralism of telecom and cable broadband technologies out there today and those soon to be introduced, digital broadcast equipment will be required to work with any number of protocols and transmission methods during the delivery process. To achieve this goal, a number of levels throughout the delivery process will be required to smooth the passage of content from provider to customer.
At the main central office, content will be gathered and pre-processed, and from there delivered to the local central office. At the local central office, content will undergo further processing to adjust transmission rates and to format for delivery in accordance with the customer's line quality and equipment. Processing at the local central office will also enable the provider to customize interactive services such as PVR capabilities, channel selection and T-commerce.
To fulfill the promise of iTV technologies, optimizing digital broadband delivery chain technologies is key. I am convinced that interoperability is the best answer for our industry to prove that iTV is not another HDTV.