A Number is Worth a Thousand Words

This week is the Connections show in Santa Clara California, my hometown, out here on the edge of Silicon Valley. I was drawn to this because it seemed like an opportunity to check up on the “networked home” and “digital lifestyle” boosters.

Signaling the escalating importance of IPTV, Motorola put on a full day workshop, “IPTV 101” where I picked up some interesting statistics.

An average US household today has 25 digital devices — DVRs, cell phones, TV sets and the like, according to Motorola’s research. For the high end of the market, that number is 37. And, it goes without saying, all of these are (or will be shortly) network-aware.

Looking a short way into the future, Motorola projects that by 2010 almost half households will have video game consoles, 57 million will have DVRs, 82 million will have high speed Internet access, and 97 million will have some type of HDTV. And set top boxes will have on the order of 1 TB drives inside.

Equipment purchases are driven by an explosion of content. Which also drives a corresponding explosion of bandwidth requirements.

Add up concurrent content like “picture in picture,” recording something else while watching a program, interactive information and gaming, downloading content like video, networked DVRs, and pretty soon just one TV is sucking up your entire ADSL bandwidth.

Here’s the bandwidth Motorola is projecting services providers must be able to deliver by 2010.

Today, the average high speed Internet connection today is between 6 and 25 megabits. In 2010, the lowest tier of users will require about 19 megabits, which can be accommodated by current technology and build-out plans. But the numbers go up from there.

Early adopters — about 30 million households by 2010 — are going to need 40 megabits. And the “fringe market” — those are the folks who buy every new gizmo the minute it hits the market — are going to require a monster 58 megabits.

That’s a pretty big fire hose.