Don’t expect consumer electronics to drive FTTH builds in 2015

by Steve Blum • ,

Don’t expect them to do your job for you. Not this year, anyway.

If there’s one new consumer electronics product on the horizon that’s going to drive demand for fiber to the home service, it’s advanced televisions of the 4K and 8K ultra high definition variety. The big players at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be showcasing their latest ultra TVs, and several events and panel sessions are devoted to it.

There’s no doubt it’s cool stuff – last year’s demos were enough to prove it – so the real question this year is how far have prices dropped, if at all, and what kind of production volume are the manufacturers planning? I’m expecting to get some ball park answers to the latter, but the former is almost certainly a closely held secret. Even so, price points will be a good indication. No one will expect to sell many units at, say, $10,000 or more. Don’t get excited until it drops well into the 4-figure range.

High definition TVs first went on the market in the 1980s, but didn’t break out into the consumer mainstream until the last decade. And that was with a ready source of HD content: pretty much anything originally shot on film. Ultra HD content will have to be purpose made, which some producers are already doing, although it will take time to build up a full-fledged library.

My bet going into CES is that 2015 is not the year of ultra HD. From a broadband planning perspective, there are pluses and minuses. On the one hand, it creates breathing room for well considered planning. On the other, it means the pressure is off. The bottom line: in the U.S., where construction led by thoughtful, long range telecoms planning died with the Bell System, market pressure is all that matters.