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So, what of the future?

We all deserve better than this. We need more bandwidth – in fact, so much that we're swimming in it. France seems to manage it somehow even with an incumbent monopolist telecoms provider. The economics as they stand today are utterly useless for doing anything other than web browsing. ISPs are doomed, and BT Wholesale has no interest in helping BT Retail's competition other than not being broken up by Ofcom. One day the regulators are going to wake up and realise that we're not so profoundly comatose or stupid enough to believe that they will be in anything other than cahoots with each other until Armageddon. You have to be naïve to think they could act independently of each other. A slap on the wrist doesn't help the market develop or allow innovation to blossom.

The challenge now for service providers is to understand what their products and services will look like in five years' time. Microsoft and Siemens are leading the charge to own the home "ecosystem", as ultimately all the devices we own will have connectivity with internet protocols for the local network and larger external one. Triple Play is a misnomer now because it's just the decades-old cable model and offers nothing new or exciting – the race is on to consolidate the chaos in the home. Broadband connections will serve and receive video as well as voice and data, as the BT Home Hub demonstrations. The question is only one of how it is put together and commercially differentiated.

Ofcom's new boss Ed Richards recently set out his vision of a digital future for the UK, which was an admirable staking of his leadership credentials. But creating that digital future means taking hard choices, having balls of steel, and breaking through the fog of vested interests. Until we see that strength shine through in a unified coalition of will across the board, it will continue to be a long way off. ®

© Digital TX Ltd

Digital TX Limited is a London-based provider of technology and consultancy solutions for interactive digital television and broadband media. Alexander Cameron can be reached at alex.cameron@digitaltx.tv.

As well as co-ordinating the birth of the IPTV Consortium (IPTVC), Alex is now offering a great value one-day workshop course on IPTV and Video On-Demand (VoD) specifically for web and media professionals. It can help you get up to speed on the latest technologies, content deals, operators and applications across the world, and offer immense value in identifying both new opportunities and threats for your business and personal career. If you would like more information, call Alex on 07986 373177 or email iptvworkshop@digitaltx.tv. Readers who quote The Register as their source will receive a 10 per cent discount on the course fees.

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