EXCLUSIVE: A senior Telstra executive has backed the Internet and storage kiosks for HD content as opposed to consumers buying Blu-ray discs and players. However he stresses that consumers still want high definition (HD) and “Blu-ray quality” from their content and this he says they will get from the new Foxtel HD set top box. He has also hinted that a new home gateway that Telstra plans to launch soon may double as a set top box to deliver IP and Foxtel content.
The comments by David Moffatt, Group Managing Director, Telstra Consumer Marketing & Channel, support what Mark Whittard the Managing Director of Toshiba claimed earlier this week when he announced the demise of HD DVD.
Moffatt who was at the 2008 CES Show in Las Vegas believes that screen technology is set to change with screens being built that facilitate plug and play storage “both top and bottom”, Internet connectivity and attached PC capability.
He also claims that set top boxes like the new Foxtel HD box due in June 2008 will allow Telstra via their 50% ownership of Foxtel to deliver 1080p HD movies overnight to unused storage in the set top box so that when consumers go to play the movie the experience is instant and HD.
“IP technology will absolutely change the way content is delivered and stored. Toshiba are a fine company and their move into expansion of Flash NAND storage will see new storage technology in mobile phones and storage devices. This coupled with new chip efficiency in devices will continue to deliver improved experiences for consumers. The concept of consumers picking up a HD movie on the way home from a storage kiosk is a big possibility and we already have over 1700 Telstra resellers and retail locations where this could happen”.
When asked whether Telstra was in dominant position in the HD food chain in that they can sell bandwidth, storage devices including mobile phones, as well as content and have a 50% stake in Foxtel, Moffatt said “Telstra will not be a dumb pipe to serve up bandwidth at the lowest cost. We are a value-added player. We have to get our timing right as the consumer only has so much money. We are excited by our strategy as we have the customers, the billing system and the network and we are aligned to everything we can see on the technology radar”.
He added: “We believe that we have set the right course going forward. We are investing in faster networks to deliver the content including 42mbps to the mobile and fibre to the node in the home. Where the innovation comes is that the little guys will still be able distribute their content on our network and the consumer gets a good experience. This will create business experiences for Australia”.
On the issue of gateways for the home Moffatt has admitted that Telstra is set to roll one out soon. “We have spoken to all the major players and it is all going to happen. We have looked at what they have got to offer and we will pick the one that fits our technology and what our customers need. We also need to assess whether we need two set top boxes or one”.
“We also need to assess how much integration the customer wants and how much they will pay for it. We also need to assess whether they want their Foxtel set top box capability built into the gateway. Another big issue is that anything that goes through the gateway from the PC to the devices on the network, to the set top box we need to be able to look through the gateway to interrogate them when a customer makes a support call,” he said.
He added: “Our timing is critical, we need to deliver just ahead of the customer expectation curve and we need to deliver what the customer wants from voice to data to content delivery.”
When asked about PC technology integrated into a TV screen as suggested by Toshiba he said: “Toshiba are leading in the development of Flash storage so to integrate small format PC capability and small format high capability storage into a TV makes sense and will be part of the solution going forward”.