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The hidden cost of digital signage
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The hidden cost of digital signage stream decoders

by Mario Avila

Why are more people signing up for digital signage installations?

One reason is the drop in initial capital costs. Recently, I saw a player on Google Shopping for roughly €185. That is cheaper than two tickets to a first-class rock concert, and can offer much more than a few hours of entertainment. The low-cost player offers a chance to increase business revenue.

Wow, increase revenue for just €185? Before you sign up, keep in mind there is a reason these digital signage installations are inexpensive.

Unlike digital signage players that are PC-based (x86 process, storage, etc.), these inexpensive players are appliance-based and gather content by streaming data across a network. With simple content layouts, this is not a problem. However, when digital signage content is streamed over a wireless network, data costs can creep up if you're not careful.

Data costs can rise quickly over time

Suppose a company wanted to install three 3G media players at a price point of €185 on their business network. Let’s say that the company wanted Web pages, videos, and photos as part of their signage content. A quick estimate of data costs can be calculated using a data calculator*.

Let’s say the three players are on a total of 12 hours in a given day. During this time, these three players stream five Web pages, 60 minutes of video, and 50 photos (it can be assumed that RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, and text boxes consume negligible data). For all three players, total data usage would be 18GB/month (6GB per player).

This statistic is important for one critical reason: the cost of data overages. Data rates for businesses using a WiFi network can costs upwards of €75 per 10GB; however, data overages can cost up to €15 per 1GB overage. That being said, the overages themselves would cost €120 per month. This brings the total month data charges to €185. Multiplying this number for the year brings the total to more than €2220 for the three players. Suddenly, those “cheap” players become more expensive.

By adding the additional costs of the players, the total cost per installation of digital signage for the first year is equal to €2750. The other item to take note of is that these data charges do not fluctuate too greatly. Therefore, it can be inferred that a three-player signage installation can cost upwards of €7500 for three years of operation. There are other players that do not use stream decoding; however, they are more expensive initially.

Digital signage players with no hidden costs

If your company cannot afford to be surprised with operational costs that continue to add up over time, go with a one-time investment digital signage system like iCOMPEL. You just pay one up-front cost. All digital signage software is pre-installed and updates are free. No expensive licenses are required year after year.

Plus, the PC-based digital signage player works right out of the box – keeping digital signage simple. It also comes packed with customisation capabilities making it perfect for large-scale, sophisticated applications.

So, what digital signage player will you choose for your next installation?

*Data calculations based off a well-known telecommunications estimation tool.

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