Broadband and Beyond: Looking Beyond Connectivity
The ongoing race to deliver super-fast broadband should not obscure the fact that, within a few years, high levels of competition will ensure that connectivity itself is commoditized. Communications service providers (CSPs) must consider how they differentiate themselves in the future.
There are two immediate opportunities—connectivity+ and the smart home—and one slow-burning, yet potentially huge market development to explore: the smart city. In this report, these three markets are referred to as ‘broadband and beyond.’ Connectivity+ begins with the pivot to focus on added-value services and includes things like subscription tech support, family management and physical and cybersecurity. Managed smart Wi-Fi is a key connectivity+ offer.
This does more than ensure excellent whole home wireless coverage. It puts people in charge of Wi-Fi, like meal-time pauses on children’s connections or unique guest passwords. The smart home includes peace-of-mind monitoring (e.g. baby monitors), physical home security, smart energy and chore automation. The smart city encompasses everything from traffic and parking optimization to real-time gunshot detection.
Some CSPs are wary of the smart home in particular – first-generation offers have not always succeeded. All CSPs should look at this market from a fresh perspective, if they are not doing so already. Some business will lead it – and there are plenty of big-brand retailers and tech companies staking their claim, many with rounded device, UI and back office ecosystems. This is not just about imminent revenue streams; it is about ‘owning consumer loyalty’ long-term, making sure households rely on you, and not others, for a range of life-improving services that will help define the next decade of home living, and indeed, mobile living.
CSPs are better placed to pursue the connectivity+, smart home and smart city opportunities than anyone. Putting aside the discrete applications and services for one moment, there are several unavoidable, crucial roles that must be performed across all three markets. First, someone has to make everything work and provide the provisioning, customer care and ongoing tech support that becomes more important than ever in markets dripping with new technology. CSPs already have the organization, scale and skills to make this role their own. Second, cybersecurity will make or break this market and the companies operating in it. Consumers are inviting ultra-connected tech into their living rooms and bedrooms. Trust is everything and relates not just to technical security competence, but to ethics and data privacy. CSPs have that trust.
EPAM is convinced that CSPs can become the long-term giants in broadband and beyond, regardless of where everyone starts the race. If you look beyond today’s apps and devices to the fundamentals of success, the CSP position is a strong one. There is no time to waste, however. This report shows that consumers are warming up to connectivity+ and smart home solutions and demonstrates where services can attract new revenue. It is going to become easier to justify launches to the CFO. This is also a good moment to think about the smart city. This is the natural progression for fixed-line and 5G service providers who can turn ultra-connectivity into new and meaningful applications. CSPs have changed our world by delivering the internet – now it is time to take a bigger stake in what every home, community and city does with the internet.