Research group says 'quadruple play' the wave of the future

ABI Research believes that a bundling of wireless broadband with traditional telephone, television and Internet services are about to arrive in the US. Dubbed in the telecommunications industry as the "quadruple play" or "grand-slam," companies are trying to reduce costs by unifying their networks and handing their customers a single bill for their Internet, voice and mobile services.

ABI Research says that network consolidation could reduce operational costs by grouping the television, telephone and wireless Internet networks under a single IP-based network. While decreased costs sounds good, ABI says the networks may face difficulty in prioritizing traffic and privacy issues.

One of the big issues facing networks is how to provide quality of service (QoS) to streaming audio and video files. Bandwidth is limited even on fast Cable and DSL connections, but gets even worse when latency prone 400-700 kb/s wireless connections are considered.

Quadruple play is a recently coined term that is an obvious upgrade from 'triple play' service. Triple play, or the bundling of cable, Internet and voice service is a common among big cable companies and recently has gained traction especially in Asia and Europe. Quadruple play tacks on wireless to the mix.

Sprint Nextel recently partnered up with Time Warner, Comcast and Cox to offer wireless service as an add-on to customers' cable bills. In addition, the cable companies will offer co-branded cellular phones.