The home gateway is all about eliminating complexity, according to Paolo Pastorino, CTO of the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI).
The telco-driven group, set up in 2004, aims to standardize the home gateway to simplify both carrier operations and the end-user experience.
That's because the home gateway is both a large potential revenue stream as well as a source of growing cost, Pastorino said at the BBWF Asia in Beijijng. By getting it right, carriers could see the upside of both of these.
"Complexity is the big challenge. If the customer doesn't have to call customer support because of problems in setting up the home network, that's a huge reduction in customer service cost," says Pastorino, a Telecom Italia executive on secondment to the HGI.
At the same time, "if customers are happy using the services on the box, they will be much more willing to buy a converged voice service, or have IP in the home."
HGI has just closed the specs for release 2.0, which will be finalized in October, and is about to begin on 3.0.
Release 1.0 codified what telcos were already doing - setting specs for session control and IPTV QoS, for example.2.0 will include a DSL Forum standard for managing network gateways and home devices.Release 3.0 will focus on IMS-based fixed-mobile convergence.
Pastorino describes the gateway as a "service enabler."The HGI's task is about "enabling definitions of how to interact with a specific device or specific service."
HGI was founded by mostly European telcos. Today, although two-thirds of its 65 members today are vendors - such as Ericsson, Intel, and Microsoft - it is driven by the needs of carriers, says Pastorino.
But so far it has had little direct input from US operators. Big US telcos like AT&T and Verizon are not members, although Pastorino says there are indirect inputs via vendors.
Their absence underlines the need for support from Asian vendors and carriers. NTT and KDDI are members, and the Chinese vendor Huawei is quite active. Working with Chinese vendors is very important, and his members are very conscious of it, says Pastorino.
The HGI does work closely with its consumer electronics counterpart, Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA).
Pastorino insists there's no rivalry between them. "The two organizations must peacefully co-exist. There just want to sell devices to be interoperable," he says.