I’ve had it confirmed that Infowest, currently a commercial provider, will be participating on UTOPIA as a residential provider as part of the new UIA expansion push. Given that Prime Time, Connected Lyfe, and Fuzecore have all had to bow out for one reason or another, it’s good to know that there will be more options for residential customers who join the network in the future. I’m pretty sure they’ll offer voice and data, but no word on video options.
If you have any experience with Infowest, leave it in the comments.
Word on the street is that the plug is being pulled on Connected Lyfe (or Lyfe Communications, or whatever company name they go by now). Several sources have confirmed that the video head end they purchased from UTOPIA has been returned as they are no longer able to make the payments. I’ve also heard that, unsurprisingly, most of their difficultly came from an inability to negotiate needed video licenses from programmers to roll out their ambitious video product.
I can’t say I’m too surprised. Technologically speaking, they had all the right ingredients. Most of the guys who founded Connected Lyfe had been working for Move Networks, a company that made some impressive video streaming products that could dynamically adjust the video bitrate depending on current bandwidth conditions without a bunch of annoying buffering. Where they went wrong, however, was thinking that programmers would line up to stream their shows to any and all screens they could support. I mean, the networks literally own Hulu and even they can’t get too disruptive. Combined with the rapid burn of investor cash, I couldn’t see this one going much of anywhere.
I hear, though, that UTOPIA is working on some stringent new requirements for new providers so that these kinds of things start happening. I understand they’ve been in the works for a few months and still aren’t finalized, but hopefully we’ve seen an end of shining star new providers that flame out.
There’s been a whirlwind of speculation since last night when a press release came out announcing that Connected Lyfe, one of UTOPIA’s newer providers, was being acquired by a then-unknown company called Hangman Productions. This wasn’t helped when an 8-K filing with the SEC came to light that showed Connected Lyfe as the purchaser of UTOPIA’s new video headend. It was pretty easy to assume the worst that the white-label video product would end and it might be a small step towards selling the network. After doing some digging and talking to both Todd Marriott and Chris Hogan at UTOPIA, it looks like that’s not the case at all. In fact, this is probably a really good thing all around.