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Developments in home networks

  1. 1. Developments in home networks FEBRUARY 2011
  2. 2. Canberra Purple Building Benjamin Offices Chan Street Belconnen ACT PO Box 78 Belconnen ACT 2616 T +61 2 6219 5555 F +61 2 6219 5353 Melbourne Level 44 Melbourne Central Tower 360 Elizabeth Street Melbourne VIC PO Box 13112 Law Courts Melbourne VIC 8010 T +61 3 9963 6800 F +61 3 9963 6899 Sydney Level 15 Tower 1 Darling Park 201 Sussex Street Sydney NSW PO Box Q500 Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230 T +61 2 9334 7700 1800 226 667 F +61 2 9334 7799 © Commonwealth of Australia 2011 This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Editorial Services, Australian Communications and Media Authority, PO Box 13112 Law Courts, Melbourne Vic 8010. Published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority
  3. 3. Contents Executive summary 1 Methodology 3 Home network environment 4 A new frontier 4 Network and service delivery models 6 Consumer 9 User experience and service environment 9 Service convergence in the home 10 IP-based service developments 11 Consumer education 12 Industry 13 Technologies 13 Network 13 Devices 15 Services 15 Emerging technology issues 16 Standards 17 Regulation 21 The network boundary 21 Connectivity infrastructure 21 Devices 22 Services 22 Conclusion 24 Glossary 25 acma | iii
  4. 4. Executive summary Developments in access networks, service and device convergence, and the evolution of multimedia services are changing the home network environment. Providing high- speed connectivity, interoperability and portability of services via the last few metres of network in the home is an area of considerable industry innovation and activity. The aim of this report is to identify technological developments and product migration issues for homeowners, service providers and those in the industry involved with enabling service delivery in the home beyond the network boundary, where the consumer has an increasingly active role. For the purposes of this report, the home network is defined as a local residential network used to interconnect a variety of internet protocol (IP)-based devices mainly designed for home entertainment, telecommunications and home automation systems. Currently, networks in the home are fragmented and dedicated to one or more analog or digital services. For example, the fixed telephony network may only carry voice, the wireless network may only carry data and a cable network may be used exclusively for video. Emerging access network technologies are expected to facilitate the integration of these separate networks and extend next generation networks (NGNs) into the home environment. The global migration to NGNs based on IP has been crucial to emerging technologies that are transforming the capabilities of fragmented and dedicated traditional infrastructure. These technologies are extending into the home network environment, providing improved connectivity, quality of service, device interoperability and higher data rates over a unified IP platform. The proposed next generation access network will mean that service providers will not be constrained by the existing access networks; they will instead be able to deliver multiple applications and services over a single network. In the home, a combination of new and legacy fixed technologies is meeting some network requirements. Wireless networks also play an important role, providing comparatively inexpensive home network connectivity and portability of devices and services. WiFi continues to grow in use and capability to meet both network and application challenges. Emerging IP-based services such as health monitoring, security, home automation, entertainment and social networking accessible via home networks are reshaping the user experience. The number of devices in the home is set to increase as services move beyond the end-user to include automated machine-to-machine communications. Devices in the home generally have evolved from analog to digital technology and now to online or networked technologies. Device intelligence and functionality is no longer limited to what has been built into the device, but is now enhanced by the capabilities of its networked environment. Home-networked devices have become windows to IP-based services that can potentially be offered from anywhere in the world. These new dynamics in home networking present both opportunities and challenges for consumers, industry and regulators. Consumers will be presented with new technologies that they will find attractive to include in their home environment. However, consumers will be increasingly faced with the challenge of supporting these next generation services in the home. Research has acma | 1
  5. 5. revealed that homeowners are grappling with networking basics. As home networks play an increasing role in service delivery, the level of in-home support and education is likely to be an area of increasing interest to improve user experience and attitudes to using and maintaining their home networks. For industry, significant new opportunities exist for the rollout of innovative services in homes across Australia. Technical standards will play an important role in the coordination and delivery of end-to-end services in the home network environment. Wide variations in the home network are possible depending on the technology make-up of infrastructure and services. Dwelling construction and occupant density also determine network requirements. While there is a continuing need for standards coordination in an area of significant innovation, one of the emerging areas of interest is the shift in responsibility for network reliability and security management from communications and IT companies to individual home network users or consumers. This is an area where information as well as skills development may be needed to allow consumers to achieve a reliable and secure networking experience. As home networks become increasingly fundamental to the successful delivery of services, both industry and consumers will require education on the common home network ground that they share. For regulators, the boundary between the access network and the home network has been a demarcation point for regulation, as it determines the customer responsibility for infrastructure within the home. Regulation applicable to the home network can be complex as there is wide variation in the infrastructure and services in use. Current regulation of services in the home (ranging from regulating content on television to device labelling) may or may not remain relevant, or appropriate, in this new environment. 2 | acma
  6. 6. Methodology This report forms part of the ACMA’s annual research plan, available at Through its research, the ACMA is seeking to understand the: > external drivers of change in communications and media, with a strong interest in identifying where platform, device and service convergence is occurring > implications of change for regulation, including identifying where regulatory pressure points are developing that require new or different regulatory or non-regulatory responses. This report draws on desktop research, information collection and ACMA analysis over the past year focusing on developments and trends in the home environment enabled by the migration to NGN technologies. The ACMA will continue to prepare reports of this nature and welcomes feedback. acma | 3
  7. 7. Home network environment A new frontier Modern home networks are part of an end-to-end chain of networks involved in the delivery of services. Content providers, telecommunications operators, internet service providers and access network providers are all part of the IP delivery chain referred to as Next Generation Networks (NGNs). Developing access network technologies such as DSL over copper and Ethernet over fibre have driven the IP evolution in the home network to enable the provision of next generation services. The home network environment is in transition from fragmented and dedicated networks carrying one or more analog or digital services to a unified IP-based network. These networks can interconnect a variety of IP-based devices predominantly designed for home entertainment, telecommunications and home automation systems. For example, the fixed telephony network may only carry voice, the wireless network may only carry data and a cable network may be used exclusively for video. Legacy networks in isolation are not able to deliver the full capabilities of digital multimedia services and devices. Figure 1 shows some of the existing and emerging services that can be realised by a transition to an IP-based network. The transition is also unlikely to be the same for all consumers due to the variations in home construction, density of occupancy and the types of services chosen. Consumer services to the home are undergoing significant change as high-speed connectivity, service portability and new multimedia services are made available in a home-networking environment. These changes are driven by rapid industry developments in access networks, the convergence of communications including broadcasting services, the emergence of multimedia services, and devices. Service providers face a new frontier as they are no longer constrained by the legacy access networks and are instead able to deliver multiple applications and services over a converged network. While there are benefits from technological improvements in home-based communications and entertainment products that enable service migration and innovation, consumers and industry will have an increased role in home network facilitation as a result. 4 | acma
  8. 8. Figure 1 Home network environment acma| 5
  9. 9. Network and service delivery models Communications networks today are changing from a fragmented vertically integrated model to a horizontal NGN model that share underpinning infrastructure layers.1 In a vertically integrated model, the network infrastructure and the communications delivered over that infrastructure are closely bundled as the whole service. The public switched telephone network (PSTN) telephony service is an example of vertical integration where the copper network, switching and transmission systems are dedicated to providing only voice telephony services. Figure 2 depicts the vertical model. Figure 2 Vertically integrated service model However, in the layered horizontal model, delivery infrastructure is shared among multiple end-users, services and service providers. Gains in network performance are possible due to the improved use of network resources such as capacity, footprint and availability. Service providers and users share the underlying infrastructure and transport mechanisms using a consistent IP network. The proposed NGN architecture is expected to reflect this model with the added functionality of high-speed transmission and managed quality of service (QoS). Figure 3 shows the horizontal model. 1 ITU, Terms of reference of NGN GSI, Definition of NGN, July 2009, viewed 4 October 2010, 6 | acma
  10. 10. Figure 3 Layered horizontal service model The deployment of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology over the past decade has created a hybrid model in which data, telephony and limited IP video services can coexist on common copper access infrastructure. However, the services are split into their respective vertical networks at the local exchange. Home networks have generally reflected the available access networks environment, in which dedicated physical networks delivered dedicated services to the end-user. These networks are undergoing a transition, delivering both traditional single service and multiple IP-based services over a common physical infrastructure in the end user’s premises. This reduces the number and potential complexity of the individual networks required to deliver independent competing services. The transition to the use of a common physical home network is occurring by combining existing wiring, wireless radio links and emerging technologies such as broadband over power line (BPL) that uses the home mains wiring. Figure 4 illustrates the relationship between the access, service delivery and home networks in a converged environment. acma | 7
  11. 11. Figure 4 Access and home networks 8 | acma
  12. 12. Consumer User experience and service environment Next generation network architecture in the home allows consumers to access multiple services from multiple providers over a unified IP-based infrastructure. Emerging IP-based services such as health monitoring, security, home automation, entertainment and social networking accessible via home networks are reshaping the user experience. Demand for new innovative services can be expected to continue to increase as Australians recognise the benefits of such services—whether they be access to new content, ‘no wire’ home entertainment set-ups or the advantages of home-automated machine-to-machine (M2M) for managing appliances. Consumer access is also simplified by using a range of IP-based devices to access these emerging services. Content providers are tailoring services to provide greater interaction and are supplying niche content to larger, more accessible audiences due to the global reach of the internet. This interaction means that providers can collect data to analyse audience behaviour to assist in service and content planning and development. Consumers can interact in a multimedia environment that includes not only video, but live chats and commentary on content. Ustream is an example of a service that provides interactive chat, live stream recording, viewer statistics and more. 2 Ustream is a free service providing a platform to enable anyone with a notebook, a webcam and an internet connection to broadcast live, real-time video from anywhere. Users are able to create and distribute their own content. The website also provides access to diverse live streaming and stored content for video on demand (VoD). 3 Smart grid technology in the home enables remote management of intelligent appliances to facilitate base-load energy reduction to improve energy efficiency. This technology will provide the consumer with more detailed information and controls using home network infrastructure to enable the consumer to make informed energy consumption choices.4 Smart metering will be a critical enabler of energy monitoring applications in which consumers can monitor their usage by accessing the data derived from the smart meter. Home networks can also be useful for some home health care situations. Bio-sensors provide point–of-care monitoring for a broad range of patient conditions. This may include measuring specific components such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, or diagnosing or monitoring conditions such as sleep apnoea or epilepsy. By using the home network, patient medical data collected from bio-sensors can be passed onto medical facilities for analysis. Bio-monitoring offers improvements on patient management through the monitoring of at-risk patients, early detection of adverse conditions and the potential to influence patient behaviour to improve their health. 5 Hunter Nursing, a NSW regional nursing agency, is in collaboration with Intel in a telemedicine trial to monitor 50 elderly patients over a fixed broadband connection or a 2 Ustream, Why Ustream, viewed 5 October 2010, 3 PLUS 7, Australian TV broadcasters offer catch-up TV where users can access previously aired programs, viewed 5 October 2010, 4 Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Smart Grid, Smart City, Public profile, viewed 5 October, grid-smart-city/smartgrid-newdirection.ashx. 5 University of Virginia, An Advanced Wireless Sensor Network for Health Monitoring, viewed 5 October 2010, acma | 9
  13. 13. 3G cellular alternative. The service requires patient involvement in their own care and provides back-to-base communications to medical staff via video conferencing.6 The consumer’s responsibility for home network infrastructure and device maintenance varies across the range of fragmented services. In some cases, one service provider carries out all aspects of service operation, maintenance and repairs. The transition to NGN architecture for service delivery is expected to alter the relative responsibilities of the service provider and the consumer. The consumer is becoming increasingly responsible for the home network infrastructure, with the service provider’s emphasis to cater for the end-to-end service requirements including some home network equipment. Service providers have a greater ability to remotely diagnose faults and resolve service issues. End-to-end service management can reduce delays in responding and resolving service difficulties as they arise. This transition will require better coordination between the end-user and the increasing number of entities involved in service support but also has the potential to enhance the overall end-user experience. The consumer will need to know what the service provider configuration and interconnection requirements are so that their home networks are capable of service delivery. Home-network firewall settings, speed and connectivity can all affect service delivery. Service providers will need to be more aware of the variations in consumer home-network configurations. Service convergence in the home There has been significant growth in the diversity, availability and adoption of consumer communications and media services. The convergence of content and services from previously discrete industries, such as broadcasting and telecommunications, has been made possible by the extension of unified IP architecture into the home resulting from the widespread deployment of DSL and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cable transport services.7 The home network can now support multiple services with managed QoS that are independent of the underlying transport infrastructure. Access network providers can exist as separate entities to the service providers of internet and telephony services for the consumer. Services can be managed end-to-end providing QoS for both access and home networks. For consumers, this common infrastructure gives access to a wider range of access networks that carry a range of competing services and features. Figure 5 illustrates the emerging IP-based services within the home and access networks environment. 6 7 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Internet Activity Australia, June 2010, viewed 22 September 2010,; Long, G., ‘Broadband passes the 500 million subscribers globally’, Communications Day, issue 3841, p.4, 23 September 2010. 10 | acma
  14. 14. Figure 5 Converging service home environment Devices used in the home are typically migrating from analog to digital and are becoming IP-based. IP establishes a common platform and is expected to provide a growing base for customer equipment and services. Increasingly, content and services are being unbundled from legacy delivery networks to be offered as converged services with added features. A range of industry standards is in place or under development to promote device interoperability and portability, integration of services and the support of existing home infrastructure. IP-based service developments IP-based service developments are leading to new opportunities in home network infrastructure, services and devices. While the characteristics of interoperability, scalability and openness are desirable in home networks, the proprietary nature of some services and devices could lock consumers into a particular technology. The use of proprietary codecs and set-top boxes for IPTV delivery is an example where service providers may use proprietary standards. Bundling of services may provide the consumer with a convenient solution for a number of services. This may be timely and cost-effective; however, the bundled offerings are seldom individualised and may not completely match the consumer’s requirements or preferences. IP-based services can offer added features due to the interactive nature of the technology. IPTV services offer greater control over the time of viewing and type of acma | 11
  15. 15. content than broadcast television. Similarly, VoIP telephony is able to integrate with email and instant messaging applications, and use home IP-based infrastructure for connectivity. Consumer education For consumers to successfully adopt and use next generation services such as IPTV and VoIP over home networks, a certain level of awareness of the technical aspects is needed to install and maintain home network services. Consequently, consumer support is often a necessity; it is currently provided by online question-and-answer documents, real-time online or telephone assistance and onsite technician solutions. Accessing information and skills acquisition to deal with technical issues often comes at a cost to the end-user, as well as to service providers offering this support. As home networks play an increasing role in service delivery, the level of in-home support and education is likely to be an area of increasing interest to improve user experience and attitudes to using and maintaining their home networks. According to CISCO (based on ABI research), homeowners are grappling with networking basics. ABI research conducted an online survey on consumer attitudes to and behaviours with home networking and found 30 per cent of respondents had trouble in setting up their home network. 8 They also identified five key problem areas—wireless network connection, printer sharing, troubleshooting, connecting new devices and wireless network security. These are the kinds of issues that consumers are faced with to maintain their networks. While technology developments require consumer education on maintaining the home network environment, technology has provided part of the solution in the form of intelligent infrastructure. Intelligent gateways and devices are increasingly able to automatically discover, configure and install into a variety of environments. Prior to these developments providers were reluctant to be involved in the home’s internal network, especially with consumer device issues. However, this attitude is changing due to increasing competition in a market where consumers require multiple service and device connections to the home network. According to an ABI research analyst, ‘Intelligent broadband gateways will gain popularity and account for more than 40 per cent of home networking CPE shipments by 2012’. 9 Intelligent gateways can be created as an all-in-one device—an integrated solution that provides multiple connectivity interfaces and can simplify the management of complex services and consumer devices. 8 CISCO, Consumers Still Sweating Home Networking Basics – Even as Networked Entertainment Gathers Steam, May 2009, viewed 15 December 2010, 9 ABI Research, Intelligent Broadband Gateways to Account for More Than 40% Home Networking CPEs Shipped by 2012, February 2009, viewed 15 December 2010, Intelligent%20Broadband%20Gateways%20to%20Account%20for%20More%20than%2040%25%20Home %20Networking%20CPEs%20Shipped%20by%202012. 12 | acma
  16. 16. Industry Technologies The developing home network environment can be further illustrated by looking at the various components required for service delivery to the consumer. These are the physical network components, terminal devices, and services that originate outside the home network environment to provide content for end users. It is an area of considerable innovation and effort by industry to promote interoperability across networks and devices through standardisation activities. Network Technology has evolved to allow home networks to exploit existing cabling to provide IP-based networking. The HomePNA, an association of companies that develops interoperability standards for the home network, and the HomeGrid Forum, a similar industry body, have agreed to promote the new ITU-T standard for wired home networking. 10,11 ITU-T specifies up to one gigabit per second data rates and operation over infrastructure such as mains power wiring, telephone lines and coaxial cables.12 ITU-T is becoming widely accepted as it allows for the provision of home networks where new cabling may be difficult to install. The ITU-T working group has released specifications for smart grid products, which ‘will allow multiple manufacturers to develop products that deliver the low power consumption, low cost, performance, reliability, and security that is required for Smart Grid and other lower bit rate applications.’13 Smart grid products include smart meters’ in-home displays and smart thermostats; plug-in electrical vehicles and electrical vehicle charging equipment; and smart appliances such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Smart grid technology provides a flow of information that enables the control and monitoring of smart appliances. It is intended to allow end-users to better manage their energy consumption, and utility providers to better manage their energy resources. Wireless technologies offer a final conduit for multimedia devices within the home, with WiFi increasingly used by devices in home networks. According to In-Stat, WiFi- enabled entertainment device shipments will increase from 108.8 million in 2009 to 177.3 million in 2013. 14 Traditionally, WiFi in-home networks have supported data and limited capacity for the sharing and streaming of video and voice. Recent WiFi standard revisions now allow for higher data rates. This is achieved using cognitive methods that optimise and coordinate capacity through steerable radio signals, and by increasing the available radio spectrum bands and bandwidth in tandem with multiple-in multiple-out (MIMO) antennas.15 IPTV and VoIP services, which are particularly sensitive to latency and jitter, can operate concurrently. WiFi installations are proving useful in older homes where cabling might be expensive or difficult. 10 HomePNA, The Goal of HomePNA, viewed 15 October 2010, 11 HomeGrid FORUM, General Overview, viewed 15 October 2010, 12 Christensen, E., , Top 10 things you need to known about the standard, DS2 Blog, 12 May 2009, viewed 5 September 2009, 13 ITU-T, Home Networking Standard given Smart Grid specs, Newslog, 20 January 2010, viewed 3 February 2010, 14 Potter, E., WiFi becomes the Multimedia Interface of Choice for Consumer Entertainment Devices, Press Release, In-Stat, 15 December 2009, viewed 7 January 2010, 15 Ruckus, Ultra-fast and Reliable Smart WiFi Access Points with Dynamic Beamforming, viewed 15 October 2010, acma | 13
  17. 17. The WiGig™ Alliance is an association of manufacturers of semiconductors, consumer electronics, personal computers and handheld entertainment devices.16 The Alliance aims to unify the next generation of wireless products by encouraging the global adoption and use of 60 GHz wireless technology and claims ‘data transfer rates of 7 Gbps, more than 10 times faster than the highest IEEE 802.11n while maintaining compatibility with existing WiFi devices’.17 WiGig is intended to support bandwidth- intensive and latency-sensitive applications such as streaming high-definition video to interconnected consumer devices in the home at speeds up to 7 Gbps, as well as maintaining compatibility with existing WiFi devices operating at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.18 WiGig technology is designed to address the specific requirements of various platforms, using the 60 GHz radiofrequency spectrum authorised by the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence.19 The WirelessHD consortium is another industry-led effort by electronics and communications equipment manufacturers that is aiming to define a worldwide standard for the next generation wireless digital network interface for consumer electronics and personal computing products.20 For consumers, eliminating cables for audio and video dramatically simplifies home theatre establishment and eliminates the need to locate source devices near the display. The WirelessHD specification 1.0 is optimised for wireless display connectivity, achieving high-speed data rates of up to 4 Gbits/s at 10 metres, where its core technology is designed to operate in the 60 GHz class-licensed band.21 Not all services delivered over the home network will require high speed and capacity. Smart energy, home automation and some health care monitoring services require only narrowband transmissions to transfer small amounts of control and measurement data. Low-power wireless home-networking technologies are the focus of standardisation efforts by the ZigBee Alliance, which ‘is an association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost-effective, low-power, wirelessly networked, monitoring and control products based on an open global standard’—IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio standard.22, 23 In May 2009, the Smart Energy public application profile was endorsed by the European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG).24,25 Smart Energy enables wireless communication between utility companies and common household devices also known as smart appliances, to deliver efficiencies such as lower costs and environmental benefits. For example, by managing the operation of devices, such as air conditioners, washing machines and dishwashers, power companies can more actively manage demand and the purchase of additional energy from other suppliers 16 The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, What is the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, viewed 21 December 2009, 17 Wireless Gigabit Alliance, WiGig Alliance Publishes Multi-Gigabit Wireless Specification and Launches Adopter Program, May 2010, viewed 4 October 2010, publishes-multi-gigabit-wireless-specification-and-launches-adopter-program. 18 Wireless Gigabit Alliance, WiGig Alliance Publishes Multi-Gigabit Wireless Specification and Launches Adopter Program, May 2010, viewed 4 October 2010, publishes-multi-gigabit-wireless-specification-and-launches-adopter-program. 19 ACMA, Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices ) Class Licence, viewed 21 October 2010, 20 WirelessHD™, About WirelessHD, viewed 4 October 2010, 21 ACMA, Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices ) Class Licence, viewed 21 October 2010, 22 Zigbee Alliance, Our Mission, viewed 22 October 2010, 23 IEEE, IEEE 802.15 Working Group for WPAN, viewed 18 October 2010, 24 Zigbee Alliance, Zigbee Smart Energy, 2010, viewed 07 January 2010, 25 See 14 | acma
  18. 18. during peak times. Generally, ZigBee is applicable to devices such as light switches, thermostats, electricity meters, remote controls and sensor devices used in healthcare or for commercial building and industrial automation.26 ZigBee RF specification RF4CE, released in July 2009, promotes interoperability of consumer electronics, home energy management and efficiency, and resilience to interference from other devices using 2.4 GHz spectrum.27 By addressing these issues, the RF4CE is likely to see the presence of ZigBee in homes increase. Devices Until recently, devices in the home have been analog, with each dedicated to the reception of television, radio or basic telecommunications services. Digital devices are now replacing analog and offering additional features. In turn, a new generation of IP- based digital devices are emerging to offer enhanced communications and content access, and provide for the integration of multiple devices in a multiservice environment. IP-based video devices are capable of receiving digital and analog broadcast television as well as receiving IPTV, internet TV and accessing VoD services from an increased number of local and global sources. Similarly, highly integrated audio receivers are capable of providing a range of audio services such as digital audio broadcasting (DAB+) radio, analog FM and streamed internet radio. 28 IP telephones and smartphone devices can establish service connections via home WiFi networks providing users with portable access and expanded service features. ‘Dumb’ devices are now also increasingly being replaced with smart devices, where new features or some of the features previously provided via the network are now embedded in the device itself. Software used to provide these functions from the device can also be upgraded as required without consumer interaction. While this remote interaction can improve the end-to-end service management, it also raises interest in the privacy and security impacts. Services Bundling services enables providers to reduce costs and extend more service offerings over unified infrastructure. The term ‘triple play’ describes the bundling of voice, video and data communications services over a single broadband connection. 29 iiNet, Internode, Optus, Telstra and TPG offer forms of triple play.30 TPG is continuing its free trial IPTV service, which started in mid 2007, offering programs of English and non-English content to its ADSL2+ customers.31,32 In addition, ‘quadruple play’ is being established in some overseas markets.33 Quadruple play introduces a femtocell, which integrates a carrier’s cellular network into the home network, providing an extended delivery of services and features offered 26 Zigbee Alliance, Zigbee Home Automation, 2010, viewed 5 October 2010, 27 ZigBee Alliance, Understanding ZigBee RF4CE, White Paper, July 2009, viewed 4 October 2010, 28 Kogan, WiFi DAB+ Digital Internet Radio, online store, viewed 5 October 2010, 29 ITU, Multiple-Play, background information for the forum at ITU Telecom World 2006, 2006, viewed 4 October 2010, 30 iiNet, Fetchtv Offer, web page, viewed 15 September 2010, 31 TPG, TPG IPTV channels, web page, viewed 14 September 2010, 32 TPG, ADSL2+ PLANS, web page, viewed 14 September 2010, 33 Hartley, S., Femtocell market update, slow but steady progress, Report, OVUM Reference OVUM052152, 29 March 2010. acma | 15
  19. 19. by cellular network operators via the home access gateway.34 Femtocells are small home-located base stations that dedicate their capacity to the home while providing improved network coverage, access and speed. Femtocells can also be offered separately. VHA is expected to begin femtocell trials in Australia and anticipate commercial availability for homes and offices in 2011.35 Femtocells enable mobile operators to provide more services in the home market at lower cost as the consumer provides the base station location, power and data backhaul. Service providers are adding other innovations to the mix such as managed hardware as part of the service, unmetered free content and access that permits users to be content providers.36 Home networks are also being integrated with cloud-based hosted services, allowing email, software, storage and telephony to be accessed from the IP cloud.37, 38 For example, an enterprise can provide hosted services such as telephone, email, virtualised computing hardware, operating systems and application software for home-based employees. Emerging technology issues The home network environment is following an evolutionary path as network technologies and services migrate to a NGN model. The online IP-based environment in the home has already influenced the way people are interacting and adopting new services. It is facilitating the delivery of services based on autonomous M2M interactions without direct human involvement. Environment and security management systems for the home can employ M2M automation to remotely control home climate and security aspects. These autonomous machines and sensors are multiplying and consequently so are the network communications requirements both in and out of the home. The ACMA is monitoring the developments in M2M technologies and their impact on current addressing schemes, remotely managed service issues and privacy. More devices in the home are using IP technology, which drives the capability for automated service functionality. The home network is now an environment where home automation and service integration in areas such as smart metering, eHealth monitoring, automation of home HVAC and the trend to virtual services that are remotely hosted—such as communication and entertainment services—is flourishing. Bio-sensors can be used for transparent point-of-care monitoring for a broad range of patient conditions. Smartgrid devices and meters will help energy utilities manage base-load power consumption requirements and also provide consumers with better usage data. Energy consumption can be managed at the end device in the home through grid control of individual appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and HVAC systems. Control of the timing of consumption can be passed to energy grid providers to manage and distribute load. 34 Campbell, M., France Telecom Starts Quadruple-Play Offer After Approval From Regulator, Bloomberg, London, 11 August 2010, viewed 4 October 2010, starts-quadruple-play-offer-after-approval-from-regulator.html. 35 Sexton, L., Network Announcements, Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited, 21 October 2010, viewed 22 October 2010, 36 Ustream, Ustream Corporate Fact Sheet, viewed 5 October 2010, 37 Otey, M., The Rise of Cloud Computing, WindowsITPro, 26 April 2010, viewed 15 October 2010, 38 Software & Information Industry Association, 2001, Software as a Service Strategic Backgrounder, viewed 15 October 2010, 16 | acma
  20. 20. This transition from traditional to NGN technology in home networks raises new issues for users in managing the reliability and security of communications. The network boundary will typically place the responsibility of home network infrastructure and reliability with the consumer. NGN home network configuration and capabilities will vary considerably due to variations in building construction, ownership, age of premises and stages of legacy infrastructure integration. The resistibility to electrical disturbances and, consequently, reliability of a broad cross-section of installations will also vary.39 Routers, set-top units, ONTs, DSL modems and WLLs are all examples of equipment that may be vulnerable in terms of resistibility. Home network devices electrically share underlying infrastructure that may be susceptible to lightning strikes, power surges and voltage spikes. These electrical disturbances can detrimentally affect devices, connectivity infrastructure and powered network boundary interfaces, as well as posing risk of injury to persons using equipment in certain circumstances. Another reliability issue relates to power continuity. NGN home networks are not powered from the access network but locally from the consumer’s premises. In the event of power loss at the premises, all services, including emergency 000 services would not be accessible from the home network. A backup battery becomes important in the event of power failures. The use of shared communications platforms between multiple services and users in the home network means the user will need to manage more information on the home network. Home network security is increasingly a concern and the responsibility of the end-user. Unsecured networks can allow unintended access to a range of computers, internet services and other devices in the home network and to the personal information stored on those devices. Without adequate safeguards, shared IP networks may expose users to a range of risks including identity theft, access to personal data, viruses, denial of service attaches and unauthorised third-party access to services and devices. There is also a cost to industry in dealing with these issues. Standards Technical standards are an important factor in the coordination and delivery of end-to-end services in the home network environment. For devices in the home to provide the interface for users and services, they need to conform to sets of rules for reliable and predictable operation, and to ensure interoperability of those devices and services. Both local and international standards developments are part of the ecosystem that supports services in IP-based home networks. Technical standards provide for an enhanced user experience by facilitating plug and play connectivity and reduced complexity of home network equipment, and permitting customer choice, of both devices and standardised services from different retail service providers. Figure 6 shows the bridging role of standards or of specifications developed by industry consortia in the home environment. 39 ITU, ITU-T Resistibility of communications equipment, viewed 5 October 2010, acma | 17
  21. 21. Figure 6 Service and standards environment In Australia, industry representatives develop local technical standards through industry bodies such as Communications Alliance or Standards Australia.40, 41 While the ACMA also has the power to make technical standards, it gives effect to industry standards by mandating in part, or completely, elements of industry-developed and agreed technical standards.42 In September 2009, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) ratified the IEEE802.11n WiFi standard. The 802.11n standard provides for up to 160 Mbps data rates over short distances as well as improved QoS. This QoS tagging of packets enables priority data to be delivered continuously, providing more reliable transmission supporting HD video over WiFi, something not possible before. The 802.11n wireless Ethernet standard is considered in certain circumstances as a replacement for wired Ethernet, because of its ease of deployment and ability to handle video applications.43 Planned advances in the methods outlined in 802.11n provide support for spatial data streams and meshing nodes via the 802.11s standard, enabling higher speed and more reliable transmissions via multiple wireless paths, within the WiFi network.44 40 Communications Alliance, overview, web page, viewed 5 October 2010, 41 Standards Australia, Developing Standards, web page, viewed 5 October 2010, 42 Telecommunications Act 1997, ACMA’s power to make technical standards, SEC 376 Telecommunications Act 1997, Act No.47 of 1997 as amended,13 August 2010, viewed 5 October 2010; and Radiocommunications Act 1992, ACMA’s power to make technical standards SEC 162, Act No.174 of 1992, 16 August 2010, viewed 5 October 2010. 43 Rash, W., 802.11n: The WiFi revolution nobody noticed,, 19 November 2009, viewed 21 December 2009, Noticed-517334. 44 Cox, J., What’s next for WiFi?, Networkworld, 12 November 2009, viewed 21 December 2009, 18 | acma
  22. 22. BPL technology allows existing home mains power wiring to be used as a data network. The IEEE P1901 standardisation effort should help see BPL technology receive wider acceptance and use in the home network segment of smart grids.45 In June 2010, the ITU ratified the standard, the next generation home network standard set by the Homegrid Forum. provides for theoretical gigabit per second access speeds over legacy infrastructure and is beneficial for provisioning NGN systems using cables in existing homes where new wiring is difficult to install.46 Some of the stated aims of are that: > it is faster than any existing home-wired technology > it is designed to work over most types of existing home wiring > enabling electronics is supported by multiple silicon vendors > it is supported by multiple industry groups > most products will have compatibility options with existing home networking technologies > it provides security using AES-128 encryption > it supports longer range deployments compared to existing home-networking technologies > it helps reduce energy consumption > it enables reliable communications over existing noisy home wiring > it provides predictable service to QoS-sensitive applications such as IPTV. 47 Standardisation work is underway in the International Telecommunications Union— Telecommunications standardisation sector (ITU-T), which involves the interfaces between service and network layers to support the delivery of IPTV over heterogeneous networks. A focus group to coordinate and promote the development of global IPTV standards has produced a comprehensive proceedings document based on existing output of ITU study groups, other standards development organisations and industry fora and consortia. The ITU-T has ratified a number of standards containing high-level architectures and framework specifications that will allow manufacturers to start implementing the specifications in their products. Recommendation ITU-T Y.1901, ‘Requirements for the support of IPTV services’, addresses IPTV service requirements, network aspects, QoS and QoE, content protection, end system, middleware and content. 48 ITU-T H.770 enables users to locate and subscribe to content from different service providers.49 It provides a degree of interoperability as consumers may use an IPTV set-top box to subscribe to a range of services from independent service providers by using the IPTV service discovery standard.50 45 IEEE, Advancement of P1901 Draft Standard for Broadband Over Power Line Networks, 7 January 2010, viewed 21 September 2010, standard-for-broadband-over-power-line-networks. 46 ITU, ‘ITU approves for home networking’, Computer World, 15 June 2010, viewed 21 September 2010, 47 DS2, Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Standard, Blog, 12 May 2009, viewed 21 September 2010, 48 ITU, Recommendation Y.1901: Requirements for the support of IPTV services, viewed 15 November 2010, 49 ITU, H.770 Mechanisms for service discovery and selection for IPTV services, viewed 15 November 2010, 50 Swedlow, T., ITU Approves New IPTV Standard: ITU-T H.770, InteractiveTV Today, 1 July 2009, viewed 5 October 2010, acma | 19
  23. 23. Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) is a European initiative aimed at creating one standard for broadcast and broadband delivery of content through connected televisions and set-top boxes.51 The intention of HbbTV is to provide terrestrial televisions sets with a converged capability for IPTV and web developments. It is based on using existing standards and web technologies, and covers the Open IPTV forum, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Digital Video Broadcasting project (DVB). HbbTV specification, version 1.1.1, was approved by ETSI on 1 July 2010. Standardisation in VoIP is well established and based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and many other companion standards, which aim to replicate legacy telephony functions using IP-based networks and promote the interoperability of telephony between legacy and IP-based networks.52 One IETF standard attempts to itemise all RFC standards related to SIP and is titled A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Session Initiation Protocol.53 Non-proprietary voice digitisation is generally governed by the ITU-T G729 or G711 standards.54 Device standards development is increasingly important to ensure the range of services and features can expand beyond the triple play offerings. The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a global group whose goal is to achieve product compatibility and interoperability by using open standards and widely available industry specifications. The DLNA ‘connected home’ environment will use home network infrastructure and devices that are able communicate seamlessly and exchange content.55 51 HbbTV, Introduction, webpage, viewed 5 October 2010, 52 Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston, A., Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M. and Schooler, E., SIP: Session Initiation Protocol, Requests for Comments: 3261, Network Working Group, June 2002, viewed 5 October 2010, 53 Rosenberg, J., A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Session Initiation Protocol, Network Working Group, February 2009, viewed 5 October 2010, 54 ITU-T, ITU-T G Series: Transmission systems and media, digital systems and networks, web page, viewed 5 October 2010, 55 DLNA, About DLNA, web page, viewed 5 October 2010, 20 | acma
  24. 24. Regulation Regulation applicable to the home network can be complex, as this environment can vary widely depending on the type of infrastructure and services. The boundary between the access network and the home network has been viewed as a key regulatory demarcation point that determines the customer responsibility for infrastructure required to carry services within the home. However, in today’s layered service-oriented environment, the regulatory regime in Australia touches many points across the home network. These can be categorised according to infrastructure, type of connectivity, devices and services. The network boundary The network boundary represents a definable point where a carrier or carriage service provider’s responsibility for ensuring efficient delivery of a service extends. Section 22 of the Telecommunications Act defines the boundary of a telecommunications network for customer cabling (section 20) and customer equipment (section 21). It determines a boundary of engagement where entities assume regulatory responsibility for the provision and maintenance of services and infrastructure. Modern services are now: > less integrated and dependent on the underlying carriage infrastructure > delivered by multiple network technologies > interfaced to a variety of devices > potentially nomadic. The transition to an NGN delivery model involves a broader range of wireless and wired network boundaries in the home, but more importantly, presents a complex multiple-service environment where there are also service-specific boundaries and responsibilities. A physical network boundary is largely determined by the service delivery model and the technologies of the access networks. In the case of the PSTN telephony service to a residence, the network boundary is often considered the first telephone socket but could be some other point at the home, depending on the establishment infrastructure. For example, the network boundary for a multi-dwelling complex can reside in a communal communications facility. The proposed NGN will introduce a common access network using three technologies—fibre, fixed-wireless and satellite. Each will require a powered network termination unit (NTU). The network boundaries will likely be similar for these three NGN-based access networks. The majority of premises will be connected to the FTTP network, which will terminate at a specific NTU known as an optical network termination (ONT) that is located in or within close proximity to the building. Figure 4 depicts the network boundary for an NTU that is proposed for an NGN access network. In contrast, the HFC network boundary is deemed to be at the first telecommunications outlet (whether it is for a subscription television or telephony service). The demarcation point for wireless access networks (such as 3G or WiMAX networks) that extend into the home is at the surface of the antenna of the receiving device in the home. Connectivity infrastructure Connectivity infrastructure refers to passive infrastructure such as cabling and the active components such as network boundary interfaces, routers, wireless and BPL devices that facilitate the home network infrastructure. Radio spectrum can also be considered to be in this broad category. acma | 21
  25. 25. Some connectivity infrastructure devices are required to meet Australian compliance labelling requirements, namely that suppliers demonstrate compliance by labelling equipment and maintaining a record in a compliance folder.56 Cabling and associated network device infrastructure is regulated by telecommunications regulatory arrangements.57 Some of the relevant standards are AS/ACIF S008:2006 and AS/ACIF S009:2006, which apply to the installation and maintenance of fixed or concealed cabling, and equipment that connects to network boundary interfaces. It should be noted, however, that some home network infrastructure such as Ethernet switches do not need to comply with the standards above, but they would need to comply with electromagnetic compatibility requirements.58 . The cabling provider rules apply to the installation of cabling in home networks.59 These rules are intended to reduce the risk of danger to people and maintain network integrity from disruptive elements such as electromagnetic interference, mains power and lightning. This is particularly important as the home network shares the same environment with other utility infrastructure such as gas, water and mains power distribution. Devices The compliance labelling requirements also apply to electrical or electronic devices that connect to the home network. These may include computers, mobile phones, printers, IP telephones and analog telephone adapters (ATA). The labelling requirements are based on features and functions offered by the device. For example, an ATA should comply with both the EMC and telecommunications labelling requirements, whereas a television with a WiFi or Ethernet connection should meet the requirements of both the radiocommunications and EMC labelling regulations. The use of devices employing wireless technologies is also governed by the licensing regime that requires the user to operate the device in accordance with the conditions of the applicable authorising licence. The user may be unaware of the licensing regime, although the compliance labelling requirements address the specific requirements of various platforms for home-networking wireless technologies to meet technical operating conditions of the authorising class licence, apparatus licence or spectrum licence. 60 Compliance with the labelling requirements allows users to operate devices subject to the applicable class license, or enables providers to organise third-party authorisation subject to the applicable apparatus or spectrum licence as part of the subscription process. Services Existing regulation of services is based largely on the traditional delivery of vertically integrated services over dedicated networks. The emergence of IP-based networks has allowed services to be delivered with features not determined by the underlying physical network. It is becoming increasingly difficult to base regulation of services on the technology employed or by using other narrow definitions. Services delivered into the home are now defined less by regulation and more by providers, consumers and content. This has resulted in new and converged services with varying degrees of offerings and expectations that may not sit comfortably within past frameworks. To continue to deal with specific content issues, customer expectations and operator 56 ACMA, Equipment compliance & labelling (A-Tick/C-Tick), viewed 27 September 2010, 57 See 58 See 59 ACMA, Telecommunications Cabling Provider Rules 2000, 15 December 2005, viewed 27 September 2010, 60 ACMA, Radiocommunications Licensing, viewed 28 September 2010, 22 | acma
  26. 26. requirements, a shift in regulation may be necessary to achieve a workable balance for the delivery of services. The federal government has announced that it will conduct a convergence review ‘in response to ongoing trends in technology that are reshaping the media landscape from how it looked in the 1990s, which is when Australia’s current media and communications regulatory frameworks were established’.61 This recognises the rapidly converging communications environment, and its potential impact on current and future policy setting and regulatory arrangements. 61 acma | 23
  27. 27. Conclusion The extension of NGN technologies into the home to carry end-to-end services is a natural evolutionary path. While a key concept and objective of this process is simplicity and seamless interoperability between services and devices in the home, industry experts consider achieving connectivity will present challenges for service providers and consumers.62 A complex and diverse home network environment is expected to consist of a mix of internal user services managed by the customer and those bundled by a provider to manage end-to-end services and devices. The onus of providing and managing the underlying home network infrastructure largely on the consumer. This contrasts with traditional services such as circuit-switched telephony, where service, infrastructure, reliability and security were solely the responsibility of the service provider. Existing home telecommunications, mains power and coax cabling are likely to be used in conjunction with new technologies to provide high-speed backbones in the home. This will be complemented by existing and emerging wireless technologies used to deliver services to portable devices. New homes will have more streamlined and integrated solutions that are installed at construction. Home networks and the integrated devices that facilitate connectivity are likely to be the next competitive frontier for services. Standardisation of technologies will play a significant role in shaping home networks, devices and the services delivered. The increased diversity in home network infrastructure and service provider requirements also means that consumers will need to be more aware of technical aspects. Both industry and consumers will have a role in meeting this awareness through education to improve technical expertise and awareness of technology developments. The home network environment has emerged as an important place where service providers and consumers interact. 62 Kofman, D. et al., A View on Future Communications, Information Society Technologies, pp. 5–6, May 2006, viewed 5 October 2010, %2Farchive%2F172%2FAviewonFutureCommunications.doc&ei=PbiqTMGyNMX0cLemxOQE&usg=AFQjC NHF_ZckjrjuTQHiwpAmeaXS2MTSEg. 24 | acma
  28. 28. Glossary Access network That part of a network that a service providers uses to connect directly to the customer. ATA analog telephone adapter Interface for legacy PSTN equipment to VoIP. BPL broadband over power line BPL technology can be used to establish or extend home networks across mains power infrastructure. Carrier The holder of a telecommunications carrier license in force under the Telecommunications Act 1997. Content provider content provider [ITU-T Y.1910] The entity that owns or is licensed to sell content or content assets. DAB+ Digital Audio Broadcasting Plus DAB+ is the upgraded version of the DAB standard that has been adopted in Australia. It uses an enhanced audio codec High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding version 2 (HE-AAC v2), also known as AAC+. DAB+ receivers are backwards compatible with the DAB standard. DSL digital subscriber line Transmission technique that dramatically increases the digital capacity of telephone lines into the home or office. DSLAM DSL access multiplexer The DSLAM connects multiple customer inputs and multiplexes them to one output stream for the service provider. DVB Digital Video Broadcasting Project eHealth Health care practices supported by electronic and communication processes to monitor, collect and analyse health data, in order to improve doctor-to- patient services. eHealth may include electronic health records and telemedicine. EMC electromagnetic compatibility Ethernet Refers to the IEEE 802.3 standard used in computer networking technologies for local area networks. ETSI European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute Produces globally applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies. Officially recognised by the European Commission as a European Standards Organisation. Femtocell Small cellular base station extending services and coverage of a mobile network into the home or office, using a customer’s broadband connection. FTTH fibre to the home Fibre network connections running from the central office to a residence or very small multi-unit dwelling. acma | 25
  29. 29. FTTP fibre to the premises Optical fibre connections directly run to the customer’s premises. The premises can be business, commercial, institutional and other applications where fibre network connections are distributed to a campus, set of structures or high-density building with a centrally located network operations centre. GB gigabytes A billion bytes. GHz gigahertz One billion Hertz, where one Hertz is the measurement of frequency equal to one cycle per second. GPS global positioning system A US space-based radio-navigation system that provides reliable positioning, navigation and timing services to civilian users on a continuous worldwide basis at no cost to users. HbbTV Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV A pan-European initiative aimed at creating a standard for broadcast and broadband content delivery to TVs and set-top boxes. HD high definition A digital video system with higher resolution than standard definition (SD) HDMI high definition multimedia interface To digitally convey audio and video data among consumer electronics such as TVs, DVD players and set-top boxes. HFC cable hybrid fibre coaxial cable Transmission links consisting of optical fibre on main routes, supplemented with coaxial cable closer to the end-user premises. Home network Local residential network used for the connection of a wide variety of digital consumer devices and infrastructure to an access network HVAC heating, ventilating and air-conditioning Technology for climate control systems IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers A non-profit organisation and a leading professional association for the advancement of technology. IETF Internet Engineering Task Force IPTV Internet protocol television Multimedia services such as television, video and graphics delivered over IP-based networks and managed to support the required level of QoS/QoE, security, interactivity and reliability. IP internet protocol The key member of the suite of internet protocols at the network layer, specifying packet addressing and routing data through the internet. ISP internet service provider Carriage service provider offering internet access to the public or another service provider. ITU International Telecommunication Union The leading United Nations agency for information and 26 | acma
  30. 30. communications technologies, including radiocommunications, standardisation and development. Mbps megabits per second Data transfer rate of one million bits per second. Network boundary A physical demarcation point between carrier-owned and customer-owned cabling. See Telecommunications Act 1997 s. 22 for a complete definition. NGN next generation network NTU Network termination unit An active device that terminates the signal from the access network and then provides one or more service delivery points as physical interfaces and sub- interfaces on the NTU. It also provides a physical demarcation point between carrier-owned and customer owned cabling equipment. ONT Optical Network Termination Can be part of an NTU. QoS quality of service The management of network transmission parameters such as packet loss, latency and jitter to maintain a set performance benchmark. A function used for managing services end-to-end. Smartphone Provide more advanced computing functionality than do feature phones or PDAs. Smartphones have more powerful processors, larger displays and complete operating system software providing a standardised interface and platform for application developers. Unified IP network Services, applications, devices and infrastructure share common IP transport mechanism. VoIP voice over internet protocol A voice telephony service involving the encoding of voice communications into IP packets for transmission over IP networks. Vertically integrated service delivery Services tied to the network access infrastructure and delivered as a bundled package to the end-user. W3C World Wide Web Consortium WiFi Wireless Fidelity Alliance Used generally to refer to wireless local area network (IEEE 802.11) technology providing short-range, high- data rate connections between mobile data devices and access points connected to a wired network. WiGig A multi-gigabit speed wireless communications technology operating over the readily available 60 GHz spectrum to enable communications among devices. WiMAX Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access Industry group organised to advance the IEEE 802.16 standards for broadband wireless access networks for multimedia applications with a wireless connection. WirelessHD Wireless digital network interface standard, eliminating interface cables among audio and video devices in consumer electronics and personal computing products. acma | 27
  31. 31. WLL wireless local loop A fixed wireless communications link that provides the last and first mile connection for a telephone and/or broadband service. ZigBee Wireless digital technology network standard based on IEEE 802.15.4 designed for low duty cycle transmissions for the purpose of conveying control and measurement data. 28 | acma