Page 2 of 3
2. Is Broadband Coverage Pervasive Enough?
Sure, broadband seems to have ubiquitous coverage if you're living in a city, but there are still plenty of places around the U.S. where it has yet to arrive. According to IDC, 32 million U.S. households currently have broadband connections and high definition televisions, and that figure will rise to 60 million households by 2012.
Cisco has designed Umi to work with the broadband connections people already have, but garden variety 1.5 Mbps connections will only be able to deliver 720p video. To get the full force of the Umi experience, and the 1080p video that delivers it, consumers will have to pony up for a 3.5Mbps connection.
3. Will Interoperability Be A Priority?
At the Umi launch event, Cisco executives made a point of mentioning that Verizon's Umi will be interoperable with Umi customers on Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and other service providers. Umi will also be interoperable with Google Video Chat, but as for Skype and other service providers, the jury is still out. Cisco says it's open to building further interoperability partnerships, but these can be tough to hammer out in the networking business.
Interoperability between different services will be crucial to building a market for telepresence in home. Cisco Umi Telepresence may get there eventually, but until it does this is going to remain a concern for some potential buyers.
"The killer home telepresence product would be one that allows Skype, Google, Apple and other videoconferencing service providers in a gateway environment at no extra cost," said Berzack. "We've yet to see that, though, and I doubt it will happen easily."
Next: Questions About Verizon's Service Contract Terms