Friday, September 14, 2007

Broadband Properties? Yes.
Broadband Applications? Stay Tuned...

Broadband Properties SummitI had the opportunity to moderate a panel at the Broadband Properties Summit earlier this week... more on that later.

After attending a number of the other educational sessions, I left the conference with three overriding impressions:

1. There are a relatively small number of technology companies that are truly innovating and providing great new services in this industry, and an even smaller number of property developers and owners that are paying any attention to them.

2. Everyone wants someone else to pay for the technology. No one has really figured out the right business model yet.

3. The U.S. is way behind Asia and Europe when it comes to broadband policy, deployment, and usage.

I was truly amazed by the general disconnect between service providers and real estate companies, not to mention that applications developers were nowhere to be seen at this conference. It's important to discuss how network infrastructure is designed, installed and funded, but until we advance the conversation about new services and applications (other than HDTV), the need for more bandwidth and more infrastructure really won't increase that much.

So, if you're a web application developer looking for a huge opportunity, look to the housing market... out of 60+ exhibitors at the show, only two were offering consumer applications beyond the typical phone/TV/Internet triple-play services.

Which brings me to my panel. I moderated a panel titled "Applications as Amenities in the Digital Home." Neil Olshansky from Steeplechase Networks spoke about premium broadband services, Brent Williams from AptConnect made the case for social networking as a community-building tool, and Kurt Scherf from Parks Associates addressed the rise of the digital lifestyle and the growing need for quality technical support services.

The conclusion we came to during our debate was that some very interesting applications are starting to become available, but there is a real lack of direction when it comes to providing applications for residents beyond the triple play. Download the slide presentation here. (PDF)

Other industries are finding ways to use digital tools to make physical spaces more productive, more entertaining and more convenient... The time is right for community developers to do the same.

What applications could you provide to your residents?

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