Cable Thin Clients: A New Revenue Opportunity For MSOs (2007)

By Daniel Howard, Motorola Connected Home Solutions

A thin client computer typically a PC that consists of a motherboard only and boots the operating system off of the network. Thin clients are essentially intelligent display devices that normally run applications on a server located somewhere else on the network. The lack of moving parts and ability to manage them remotely makes them a very cost effective technology for business applications such as point of sale devices, and many corporations are using thin clients for their employees based on the much lower total cost of ownership of this technology. Recently, with the availability of Open Source office applications and educational titles, schools all over the world are switching to thin clients as a more cost effective approach to providing reliable and inexpensive student PCs. In this paper, a thin client computer technology that uses cable modem infrastructure is described. Because of its broadcast architecture, the cable plant is uniquely positioned to take advantage of thin client computing, and can provide the service more efficiently and cost effectively than other broadband wired networks. Thin clients are as robust as a cable modem, and can be rebooted and managed remotely as easily as a cable modem, which means MSOs can offer a managed home PC service without concern for additional truck rolls. Best of all, it opens up new revenue opportunities for MSOs, including pay-as-you-go data services, children's PCs with preloaded educational titles, and elderly residents who would only get a PC if a service provider supported it for them. And since a cable thin client is not much more than a cable modem that you plug a monitor, keyboard, and mouse into, MSOs can enter the market at far less than would be required for conventional computer technology. Finally, since the servers are located in the MSO's facilities, the operating system is completely under the MSO's control, and thus can be easily maintained and provide an additional portal to users.

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