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Verizon launches home media server in 2012

Your set-top cable box (wait — how can they still sit on top of the TV?) may be a bit outdated, and may be disappearing in the coming year if Verizon has anything to say about it. The living room TV has always been the focal point but never really the true hub of a house-wide entertainment network.

All that could change as Verizon moves to a different view and different technology. The cable box will now be a wireless home media server that delivers content to your televison, iPhone, iPad, PS3, Xbox and any other device on your home network. The plans will roll out for FiOS customers first in select areas, but the future plans are to eliminate cable boxes altogether over the course of several years. Beefy bandwidth will ensure that HD goes out to all devices; as more devices tap in, the maximum bandwidth will be needed to ensure that everyone has a smooth viewing experience.

Another aspect is 3-D HD. Verizon has been testing sending 3-D HD FiOS signals (that’s 40Mb/s) over hundreds of feet and getting no loss of HD video quality.

So although the set-top box may not really be going away, the thought process behind delivering entertainment into the home is certainly going to go through some transformations in the coming years. Verizon will still be pumping a signal into the home, and it will most certainly be going to a box. But after that it’s a different jump, creating a media hub that brings HD digital entertainment to all the devices in the home — added television sets and especially mobile-TV devices.

Most homes in the United States have a least a couple television sets, and this new method would make installations and home setup dramatically easier. Instead of wiring each television, a tech merely adds on a Wi-Fi unit to the back. And with a server ruling the Wi-Fi circumference of the house, now any mobile phone or portable tablet device can catch all the entertainment options of the living room.

We’re seeing this now with apps such as HBO Go, but Verizon hopes to take it to another level, where a customer can access all his or her digital channels right from his or her pocket. Much technology groundwork needs to be covered, but the testing is promising and the targets are near term — ensuring that home television and mobile television will be getting much more exciting throughout the coming new year.