Debating the Gigabit home in 360 at Broadband World Forum

03 Nov 2016

Customers buy the experience, not the technology.

This was the central idea underpinning a lively panel we hosted recently at Broadband World Forum in London. Bringing together some of the industry’s leading minds from Altice Labs, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, and Parks Associates, we took a closer look at how the gigabit home is being rolled out across Europe, and the opportunity for operators.

One thing was clear: although the majority of subscribers might not care about what tech is used to deliver their services, they have high expectations about the quality of service they receive.

Here, our panelists agreed, lies the challenge and the opportunity.

Read on to find out more, or head here to watch our 360 video series  

The gigabit home – are people ready?

Gigabit speed presents a huge opportunity for operators, but the important question is whether consumers’ homes are ready for it. The panel agreed that getting fast speeds to the home is one challenge, but equally important is the reach and reliability of the network once inside.

In addition to high-performing gateways, the panel discussed the importance for operators to educate customers about optimum equipment placement to ensure the best coverage. This isn’t just about speeds, but guaranteeing people’s entertainment isn’t disrupted when they stream their favorite shows – the blame for which can end up back on the operator’s plate. More on this later.

How to make the money?

The real value to operators will come not from speed but sticky services that keep customers loyal to their provider.

Operators can be successful by providing new services that sit on top of their established network - entering a ‘penta-play’ market by adding IoT services into the mix.  However, the opportunity differs by market. For example, market penetration for monitored security in the UK is 10 times that of Germany where the category needs better communication and understanding.

But the largest opportunity really still lies in content, as consumers’ appetite for entertainment in the home – be that broadcast, subscription or OTT – continues to rise.

New IoT paradigms

Delivering new IoT services requires new models, and for many telcos, the best and most efficient way to do so is partnerships. APIs also play a big role, and for the connected home to succeed, there will be a greater need for operators – and potentially even competitors – to work together as the capabilities extend beyond the home, requiring integration with mobile networks to allow IoT devices to continue to function outside.

To virtualize or not?

On virtualization, the panel was split. At least one operator said ‘no’ to complex gateways, with cost being a key consideration for something simpler. Here, network function virtualization was the model of choice, allowing for functions to operate within the cloud. Others believed the delivery of the desired experience was only possible through smart gateways – while the theory of a virtualized box got the thumbs up into the future.

The need to be unseen

The dilemma, it was put, was that operators are continually troubled by the fact their customers want them to be invisible – they want the service to ‘just work’, with no additional dialogue required from the provider. (Except when it unfortunately goes wrong, of course.) However, as third parties introduce more services and telcos work together to scale the opportunity, the need for a strong brand was acknowledged, or operators risk being swallowed by the competition.

As one panelist said, if you don't provide a platform allowing users to have new and great experiences, the provider next door will.

We thank our panelists for giving their time, opinions and insight at Broadband World Forum:

  • Yves Bellego, Director of Network Strategy, Orange
  • Remco Helwerda, Innovation Strategy Consultant, KPN
  • Jon Carter, UK Head of Business Development – Connected Home, Deutsche Telekom
  • Paulo Mão Cheia, Head of Unit GPON, FTTx and QoS Probing, Altice Labs
  • Darren Fawcett, Chief Technical Engineer, ARRIS
  • Brett Sappington, Senior Director of Research, Parks Associates (moderator)

We shot a series of 360 video with our panel straight after the event – join the huddle and get the inside track from the show floor here. You can watch it via your YouTube app, browser or compatible VR device.

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