By Thomas Flanagan
The US arm of Korean start-up Titan Platform, a content platform provider and hardware maker, has revealed that a major US telco is investigating the potential launch of a home gateway with a SIM card – based on the belief that millennials are axing their broadband subscriptions.
They would reportedly prefer to have an extra $5 a month fee attached to an unlimited mobile data plan by dropping a SIM into a home gateway, rather than pay the full amount for a broadband package. According to the CEO of Titan Platform US, Adrian Sexton, his company is currently in discussions with one of the big four US telcos to be the hardware provider for a project of this type.
AT&T and Verizon have been dragged back kicking and screaming to unlimited mobile data plans, by T-Mobile USA’s disruption, and converged operators can bolster their fixed line DSL with an extra LTE connection in the home. This has been happening in Europe for years, pioneered by Deutsche Telekom in Germany, followed by Swisscom in Switzerland, Vodafone in Spain, and Belgacom’s Proximus in Belgium.
When 5G eventually arrives, with AT&T and Verizon planning to offer a 1Gbps fixed wireless connection to the home using millimeter wave spectrum, this practice of combining fixed-line and LTE could become more commonplace, but for now it is still in its infancy and existing systems do not work particularly well. The key selling point is that LTE can be used as a fallback for when broadband fails or has latency issues.
Titan Platform US is preparing to roll out its Smart Home Core Clueworks 5 home gateway in the US in Q3 this year, enabling an IoT hub for controlling up to 100 connected devices around the home. It is also pushing its own WiFi VR headset as one of those devices, with the potential to also slot a SIM into those too.
Sexton said that the gateway will be marketed both in retail and as a white label product from operators, and he added that it is looking at supporting connected devices from Nest, such as thermostats, smoke alarms and cameras.
Titan Platform US plans to tie its content platform, which will initially be offering Asian and tech-focused videos, to its proprietary VR hardware, which history shows is not a particularly forward thinking strategy. Last year, Oculus famously removed its headset-specific DRM (digital rights management), finally giving in to pressure from consumers to allow Oculus’ VR games to work smoothly on the rival Vive VR headset from HTC.
Although Amazon has gained a significant foothold in the smart home market, Titan Platform plans to go at it through the transactional video-on-demand route instead of the subscription model, but TVoD is more common in Asia than in the US, and lacks the convenience of subscription services.
The smart home market is crowded, but Sexton claims that Titan Platform won’t be stepping on the toes of the big four – with its services also spanning government and education applications to keep as many doors open as possible.
Titan Platform has made an interesting transitional journey, and perhaps a bold one to be entering the smart home market at a time when that seems to have plateaued, for a while at least.
The company emerged about five years ago from a security background, building a DRM encryption system for e-commerce which allowed for personalized transactions. Today it has an online media content platform called Winvention, and recently launched Titan Creator, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for broadcasters and content creators to build apps for mobile, smart TV or over-the-top formats. These products and services are secured by its multi-DRM Titan Content Identifier encryption system.
Sexton was put in charge of Titan Platform’s US operations four months ago, to break into the North American market. The company has an almighty job on its hands to replicate its Asian successes in North America, but it has a widespread portfolio of B2B and direct-to-consumer products, software and services – which may end up significantly undercutting rival offerings.