1 The Way Ahead The 10 key issues facing the Asia Pacific telecom sector
2 Introduction The 10 key issues facing the Asia Pacific telecom sector The Asia Pacific telecom industry remains the most dynamic and diverse in the global market, containing as it does some of the most technologically advanced markets in the world take a bow Japan and South Korea as well as a number of low-income markets where LTE and FTTH services remain very much a distant dream. However, although the various countries in the APAC region may be at very different stages of development, there are a number of issues that operators across the region are all wrestling with and which this paper looks to address, including how to get their mobile broadband pricing right and how to deploy successful multiscreen strategies. In addition, countries across the region as diverse as gigantic but sparsely-populated Australia and the tiny but populated-to-the-brim Singapore are both struggling with the best way to deploy their statesponsored national broadband networks. Technology is also posing its own tricky questions for APAC operators, with plenty of high-profile fixed-broadband operators in the APAC region still figuring out how best to enter the fast-developing content delivery network (CDN) market while many WiMAX operators in the mobile broadband market are still pondering how they can smoothly transition to TD-LTE. One of the great failures of the APAC telco market over the last decade has been its failure to grab a significant share of the regional advertising market a market which continues to be dominated by TV broadcasters while the digital advertising dollars have gone largely to global giants like Google. One telco determined to chase the ad dollar dream is Hong Kong Broadband Network which is in the process of selling off its telecom network assets to become a fully-fledged TV broadcaster via the DTT market how can other telcos get their own share of the TV advertising pie? In this paper, Informa s experts on networks, operator strategy, connected devices, broadband, Wi-Fi, TV and mobility, and the cloud have contributed to their list of the pressing issues facing the APAC telecoms sector and some of the strategies being used to address these problems. In each case, the advice is supported by extensive research, backed up by Informa s market-leading proprietary data. We hope the following will provide food for thought, and look forward to working with you to deliver future success. Fig. 1 Top 10 Asia Pacific FTTH markets Subscriptions (000s) 4Q09 4Q10 4Q11 China 11, , ,438.0 Japan 17, , ,000.0 South Korea 7, , ,409.4 Taiwan 1, , ,398.0 Hong Kong 1, , ,570.0 Vietnam Singapore Australia India Indonesia NOTE: Figures refer to quarter-end Fig. 2 Top 10 Asia Pacific IPTV markets Subscriptions (000s) 4Q09 4Q10 4Q11 China 4, , ,558.2 South Korea 1, , ,594.6 Japan , ,465.6 Taiwan ,058.0 Hong Kong Singapore India Sri Lanka Pakistan Indonesia NOTE: Figures refer to quarter-end Fig. 3 Asia Pacific WCDMA penetration by country Penetration (%) 4Q09 4Q10 4Q11 Australia Cambodia China Hong Kong India Indonesia Japan Malaysia New Zealand Philippines Singapore South Korea Sri Lanka Taiwan Thailand Vietnam NOTE: Figures refer to quarter-end
3 Governments need to tread carefully with NBN dreams Malaysia leads the way in APAC NBN revolution Fig. 1 Asia Paciic, NBN deployment status report (as at end-march 2012) Network Homes Passed Subscribers NBN - Australia* 7,282 18,200 NGNBN - Singapore 950,000** 130,000 Over the last couple of years, a number of Asia Pacific countries most notably Australia, Singapore and New Zealand have deployed national broadband networks (see fig. 1) with the principal aim of these networks being the providers of ubiquitous high-quality fiber-based broadband access. NBN rollouts in these markets have sparked interest in other countries in the region to get into the NBN game with governments keen to demonstrate to their electorates that they won t be left behind in the broadband age. The critical question that governments have to face when considering the NBN dilemma is what role should the incumbent operator play in the network rollout? In Australia, the government effectively booted incumbent Telstra out of the NBN process and instead decided to set up a state-owned company NBN Co. to build and operate the network. However, in many markets, the structural separation of an incumbent operator is just not possible usually for a mixture of political and commercial reasons meaning that incumbents play a key role in NBN rollouts. The best example of this is in Malaysia where Telekom Malaysia has partnered with the government on the High Speed Broadband (HSBB) network which is well on track to complete its 1.3 million home FTTH network by the end of 2012 at a cost of MYR11.3 billion (US$3.7 billion). The HSBB has progressed far quicker than its regional counterparts because Telekom Malaysia is deploying and operating the network rather than it being done by an entirely new entity (see fig. 2). However, with Telekom Malaysia still maintaining its role as both wholesale network operator and retail service provider on the HSBB it is arguable that the Malaysian government has not really addressed the biggest issue in the broadband era creating an independent, open access network, although Telekom Malaysia has signed wholesale deals with several other operators. This is exactly the sort of problem that the Australian government is seeking to avoid with the creation of NBN Co., which will be a genuine wholesale-only network owner which offers equal access terms to all RSPs on the network and has no stake in the retail market whatsoever. Of course, setting up NBN Co. as a new national wholesale-only FTTH network operator is an extraordinarily expensive and time-consuming exercise and one which inevitably results in a much longer FTTH network rollout. The lesson for regulators and governments considering an NBNstyle deployment are clear. Although relying on an incumbent to deploy the network can result in a far quicker and cheaper network rollout, it can leave in place tilted playing fields of the kind already found in the broadband market which they would also ideally like to get rid of. HSBB - Malaysia 1,200, ,000 NOTES: *FTTH homes passed/subscribers. **Denotes total premises where NGNBN is connected to building, in-building connections not complete in most buildings. Different strokes for different folks in NBN strategies Fig. 2 Asia Pacific, FTTH state of play Country Australia China India Indonesia Malaysia New Zealand Singapore Thailand Status National FTTH network being deployed by NBN Co. No NBN plans but State Council pursuing Three Network Convergence policy TRAI has suggested deploying NBN-style backbone network Incumbent Telkom replacing xdsl with FTTH/B connections HSBB deployed to 20% of homes and possibly extended to new areas NBN being deployed on public-private partnership basis NGNBN making progress but still needs significant in-building network deployment CAT Telecom looking to deploy THB6 billion (US$195 million) FTTH network Related research Singapore s NBN glitches could be a harbinger of troubles for Australia s NBN StarHub searches for answers in Singaporean NGNBN puzzle Structuring a profitable NGA model is the problem, not financing Tony Brown is a Senior Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, covering the broadband and Internet markets of the Asia Pacific
4 CDNs: Should operators go it alone or collaborate? CDN market expanding rapidly around the world Fig. 1 Global, operators offering wholesale CDN services to content owners, There is a growing range of options available for Asia Pacific operators looking to deploy their own content delivery network (CDN). These range from building a CDN from scratch to acquiring an existing CDN business. However, before selecting the best route to market, operators should first decide what they want to achieve by having a CDN. Some operators are interested in CDNs as a way of delivering managed Internet content to broadband and television subscribers. This retail CDN model differs considerably from a wholesale approach, under which operators sell CDN services directly to content owners. As of early 2012, Informa had identified 42 operators offering wholesale CDN services to content owners (see fig.1). In addition to the general benefits associated with having a CDN, specific market-entry models come with their own benefits and potential disadvantages. The most popular market-entry route for network operators remains building the CDN themselves (see fig. 2). There are now a multitude of vendors offering operators the technology for deploying and managing their own CDN. One advantage of this approach is that operators have full control over their CDN business. However, potential risks include the danger of becoming locked-in to specific technology platforms and the costs associated with upgrading the network. Reselling the technology platform of a traditional CDN such as Akamai or CDNetworks is another popular route to market for telcos. Although this can be a relatively quick way to launch a CDN, operators need to explore the extent to which the resale approach will help them generate wholesale revenue, or support their retail CDN strategies. Recent months have seen the launch of several new options for operators looking to launch a CDN. Although, so far, only a minority of telcos have purchased managed and licensed CDN services from traditional CDNs such as Akamai, EdgeCast and Limelight Networks, this may change. Managed CDNs offer operators reduced time to market with the added benefit of outsourced network management. However, they can be a relatively costly option. By contrast, licensed CDNs allow operators to build and manage CDN capacity within their own network based on ready-made software. The relative downsides of this approach include the need for operators to have the requisite commercial expertise to run a CDN business. Both managed and licensed CDNs offer operators the possibility of federating their networks with the global footprint of the traditional CDN partner. For operators requiring international reach, this may be one of their greatest appeals. Telcos with wholesale CDNs Operators taking multiple routes into CDN market Fig. 2 Operator CDN routes to market Own-build (6.2%) Resale (4.9%) Acquisition (7.4%) Licensed (21.0%) Managed (60.5%) Related Research Case study: Telefonica s content delivery network strategy Case study: The FT-Orange Group s content-delivery-network strategy Case study: Akamai s content delivery network strategy Chris Drake is a Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media covering the convergent operator strategy, content delivery networks, next generation access and rural broadband.
5 How India s 3G operators can get their pricing right GPRS still dominant MBB access technology Fig. 1 India, mobile broadband and GPRS users, 3Q10-3Q11 60 The chronically inadequate state of India s fixed-broadband networks has always made it inevitable that the local broadband market will be dominated by mobile broadband services but the country s current mobile broadband players are failing to exploit this golden opportunity. In the two years since 3G services were launched into the Indian market, subscriber take-up rates have been largely dismal (see fig. 1) despite eight operators offering 3G services, India had about 15.7 million WCDMA subscriptions as of December 2011, or just 1.8% of the country s total mobile users. The slack take-up is principally because current 3G prices are out of the reach of mass-market subscribers with mobile operators positioning 3G services as a premium offering compared with GPRS (see fig. 2); the entry-level postpaid 3G plans of most operators cost INR100 (US$1.90) per month in a market where blended ARPU currently sits at around INR107 per month. The two main reasons for Indian operators setting high 3G prices are clear: firstly they have only been allocated a small amount of 3G spectrum (as low as 5MHz in some circles); secondly, they are using some 3G network capacity to offload capacity from the congested 2G networks. At the same time, operators are also trying to monetize 3G services quickly due to the high price they paid for 3G spectrum. High-value urban users are the primary target segment for most operators, given their higher price elasticity and willingness to try out new services. The high pricing of 3G also highlights the fact that operators are first looking to migrate their existing high-value users to 3G. This can help them streamline the data traffic on their congested networks in major urban areas, while also improving the user experience for their highvalue customers. However, this strategy in isolation cannot justify the purchase of 3G spectrum. Going forward, the Indian operators will have to attract new 3G customers, expand their focus area and look at user segments other than the high-value ones to exploit the full potential of 3G services. Most operators are already trying hybrid approaches that attract new 3G customers without placing major demands on the network, with some operators offering capped data plans to avoid surges in data traffic. Time-based pricing is also available, which is another effort by telcos to streamline data traffic, although the possibility of traffic surges can be high, especially if customers use services such as video streaming. These plans and strategies, while not optimized for mass customer acquisition, will go a long way to encourage 3G adoption, with operators likely to get more aggressive in 3G pricing strategies as the market evolves. Subscriptions (mil.) Q10 4Q10 1Q11 Mobile broadband GPRS NOTE: Note: Figures refer to quarter-end 3G the costliest MBB access technology per MB Fig. 2 India, average postpaid cost per MB Average cost per MB (INR) G EV-DO Entry-level plan High-end plan NOTE: INR1 = US$ GPRS 2Q11 LTE 3Q11 Related Research Telefonica uses application-based pricing to tackle OTT threat Why gold matters when it comes to data pricing and customer experience Self-service price plans pre-empt Free Mobile launch Anubhuti Belgaonkar is a Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, covering the regional trends in South and Southeast Asia; pricing, content and applications, mobile strategies for emerging markets and regulatory scenarios.
6 Transition management, the key for WiMAX to TD-LTE migrating ops WiMAX remains on the margins of APAC MBB market Fig. 1 Asia Pacific WiMAX subscribers, 4Q10-4Q11 Subscriptions (000s) 4Q10 4Q11 Australia Vivid Wireless Bangladesh The last 12 months has seen a number of prominent Asia Pacific WiMAX players announce that they will migrate away from the Intel-backed technology, and instead adopt TD-LTE to bring them back into the wider global mobile technology family. The list of these APAC WiMAX emigrants includes Packet One Networks (P1) in Malaysia and SingTel Optus-backed Vivid Wireless in Australia and there are plenty more that are pondering a switch. Most mobile operators are used to switching technologies, having already gone through the GSM to WCDMA upgrade and then towards LTE via HSPA, but the WiMAX to TD-LTE players are in a different situation. The key difference here of course is that the GSM family of technologies has always been backwards-compatible, meaning that 3G devices worked on 2G networks, but the WiMAX to TD-LTE migration is much more tricky because this technology co-existence in terms of consumer devices will not be there in the migration process. This means that the APAC WiMAX operators (see fig.) which are typically operating in developing markets are going to have to swap out their entire WiMAX modem base and replace it with TD-LTE modems a very expensive exercise fraught with potential PR banana-skins. What s more, companies like P1 and other likely WiMAX deserters in markets like Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, simply don t have the cash to offer significant subsidies to ease the pain for subscribers when they have to purchase new TD-LTE modems. This means that these companies are going to need migration plans that are well thought out. They need to think carefully about how they can assist subscribers with migration costs and will need to make sure subscribers are alerted as far in advance as possible that they will need to buy a new TD-LTE device. Although WiMAX operators may not be able to aggressively discount TD-LTE modems, they need to get smart about how they engage with subscribers over the migration process and offer them as many incentives as they can including discounted access fees and other cheap-but-effective promotional goodies to maintain their loyalty. Some WiMAX operators have lobbied vendors to produce a dualmode WiMAX-TD-LTE modem to make the transition smoother and less expensive but it remains uncertain whether such a product will come to market and whether it could be produced at a price affordable for emerging-market consumers. The APAC WiMAX operators have fought hard to win their market niche they will have to fight even harder to hold onto it as they go through their TD-LTE migrations. Augere Wireless BanglaLion Communications India BSNL Japan UQ Communications ,133.5 South Korea KT Corp SK Telecom Malaysia Asiaspace Dotcom Sbn Bhd P Pakistan MyTel PMCL Wateen Telecom Wi-tribe Philippines Wi Tribe Singapore Qmax Taiwan FarEasTone FITEL Global Mobile Tatung Telecom Vee Telecom VMAX Telecom NOTE: Figures refer to quarter-end Related Research Case study: Sitra WiMAX tries to crack the crowded Indonesian market Banglalion gets moving in the Bangladesh WiMAX market What is RIL plotting for its Indian broadband revolution? Tony Brown is a Senior Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, covering the broadband and Internet markets of the Asia Pacific
7 Telcos must get their share of the advertising pie The changing face of APAC TV advertising market Fig. 1 Asia Pacific, TV expenditure index, 2011 Country Pay TV Free TV Total TV Australia China When Hong Kong telco Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) announced in April that it was selling off its telecoms assets to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for US$644 million to focus solely on its pending launch of digital terrestrial TV services, opinions on the deal were sharply divided. Some thought that HKBN had pulled off a coup by exiting the intensely competitive telecoms market with a tidy profit while others argued it was foolhardy for a low-cost telco to enter a broadcast sector which requires an entirely different set of skills to succeed. Only time will tell if HKBN s telco-to-broadcaster strategy works out, but the company s move is emblematic of an issue that has dogged APAC telcos since the dawn of the IPTV age: How do they get their share of the enormous TV advertising market which remains dominated by TV broadcasters? Informa s research into the APAC TV advertising market clearly shows the opportunities. The region generated US$33.5 billion in TV advertising revenues in 2011, with free-to-air TV advertising still looking very strong in Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand (see fig. 1). Informa forecasts the entire APAC regional TV-advertising market to expand strongly to hit revenues of US$42.9 million in 2017 (see fig. 2) up 27.8% from 2011 clearly outlining why players like HKBN are putting their bets on the broadcast sector. Few APAC telcos have the option of copying HKBN and jumping ship into the free-to-air broadcast market. However, with most telcos in the region now having launched some form of IPTV services telcos do have the chance to grab a much larger slice of the advertising pie. The key for telcos attacking the advertising market will be to become much more effective at targeting subscribers on an individual or micro niche basis than most free-to-air broadcasters can ever hope to achieve with their own current advertising model. The telcos video content will never have the mass audience that freeto-air broadcasters can still attract, so they need to exploit their principal advantage which is their more detailed knowledge of who and where their audience are (and what they like to do with their discretionary dollars). Telcos need to take advantage of their established connections with subscriber households to form commercial relationships with individuals inside the home so that they can offer their advertiser clients direct access to individuals within the home via their multiscreen services to tablets and other devices. By doing this, telcos can differentiate themselves from their broadcast rivals by offering the kind of targeted advertising that has long been discussed by those in the industry but has never yet been successfully executed. Hong Kong India Indonesia Japan Malaysia New Zealand Philippines Singapore South Korea Taiwan Thailand Vietnam Fig. 2 Asia Pacific, regional revenue progress, Revenues (US$ bil.) High expenditure rate Medium expenditure rate Low expenditure rate NOTE: Based on percentage of pay-tv revenue and TV advertising revenue compared with GDP APAC pay TV revenues set to overtake TV ad revenues Pay TV TV advertising Related Research Next-generation TV advertising: Change is certain but not imminent, as traditional TV advertising beds in Asia Pacific, TV Factsheets to end-4q11 Global TV advertising forecasts, Tony Brown is a Senior Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, covering the broadband and Internet markets of the Asia Pacific
8 Look beyond killer content StarHub s subscription rates survived the loss of EPL content Fig. 7 StarHub, pay-tv subscriptions, 2Q10-4Q11 One recent theme from the Asia Pacific pay-tv market is how much pay-tv operators are willing or, for that matter, able to bid for high-quality sports content, especially the much sought after English Premier League (EPL) football rights. The high price of top sports rights such as EPL is a key concern for Asia Pacific cable operators with the high price of content threatening to seriously damage their profitability not least by the possibility of being dragged into a damaging price war with rival pay-tv firms, including start-up IPTV rivals. Singaporean cable operator and long-time pay-tv market leader StarHub had been the only ever holder of the EPL rights in the Singaporean pay-tv market until IPTV player SingTel snatched the rights away in October 2009, reportedly paying over US$300 million for a threeyear exclusive deal. StarHub deployed a three-stage strategy following the loss of the EPL rights. First, freed from having to pay the EPL, it slashed the price of its Sports Package by around 50% in a successful bid to maintain subscriber loyalty. Second, the operator decided to revamp its sports content lineup with less expensive content, including live coverage of other major European leagues such as Spain s La Liga, Germany s Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A. Third, StarHub also looked to address the niche sports market by bringing on board three specialist cricket channels aimed at the local Indian community for a sizeable S$32.10 per month. StarHub s more flexible approach to sports programming and its move away from an EPL- centric approach has been a clear success with its subscriber numbers still growing after the firm lost EPL rights in August 2010 (see fig. 1) and ARPU remaining relatively stable (see fig. 2). The example of StarHub in Singapore (as well as PCCW in Hong Kong) thriving following the loss of EPL content shows the opportunity for cable operators to prosper without being forced to pay exorbitant content rights fees as long as they have a smart content strategy in place and a flexible pricing strategy. Subscriptions 546, , , , , , , , Q10 3Q10 4Q10 1Q11 2Q11 3Q11 SOURCE: StarHub StarHub has increased ARPU through a bold premium content strategy Fig. 8 StarHub pay TV ARPU, 2Q10-2Q11 (S$) Monthly ARPU (S$) 4Q Q10 3Q10 4Q10 1Q11 2Q11 3Q11 4Q11 NOTE: S$1=US$0.78 SOURCE: StarHub Related research StarHub searches for answers in Singaporean NGNBN puzzle TV-content update, Feb-12: BSkyB prepares new Internet TV service Global, multiscreen content rights tracker Tony Brown is a Senior Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, covering the broadband and Internet markets of the Asia Pacific
9 Bundle connected TVs with triple-play packages There will be 242 million connected TVs in Europe by 2016 Fig. 1 Connected TV devices Western Europe, The rise of the connected TV (see fig. 1) is often portrayed as an inevitable clear threat to pay TV. But this is not necessarily the case. There are a number of ways that pay-tv operators can partner with TV manufacturers to the mutual benefit of both. One path often ignored is that pay-tv players could adopt the model of mobile operators and begin to bundle connected TVs with their pay-tv or triple-play packages. Informa has identified several advantages for the pay-tv operator taking this approach. One of the most obvious would be in raising ARPU. Where a connected TV is part of a triple- play bundle, the cost of the device could be built into the price of the package. But bundling a device not only increases ARPU, it allows the pay-tv operator to tie the subscriber into a long fixed-term contract. Bundling a smart TV as part of a triple-play package could also increase the number of subscribers taking premium services: The latest TVs make the additional benefits of HD more apparent and may even encourage users to try out 3DTV as well as ondemand content. Bundling connected devices with triple-play packages could also distinguish those premium products. The most obvious option would be to bundle connected TVs only with high-end packages. When operators wish to push multiroom packages, they could bundle cheaper devices such as games consoles or even a tablet to extend the TV proposition beyond the living room. In all these scenarios, pay-tv operators can generate goodwill through their association with the provision of the latest must-have consumer hardware. Not all gains are financial, though. Informa s research has found that, in general, pay-tv providers are better at communicating the benefits and availability of on-demand services than traditional consumer electronics retailers (see fig. 2). By becoming a distributor of connected- TV devices, there is a strong chance that pay-tv players would be able to educate users to choose their services rather than look towards OTT rivals. Devices (million) Virgin John Lewis The Sony Centre Sky Apple BT Richer Sounds Currys / PC World House of Fraser Independent store Overall score (/5) Connected TV Connected Blu-ray players Games consoles Hybrid set-top box Media streaming devices Most UK retailers are poor at selling connected TVs Fig. 2 Connected TV retail experience by provider scorecard (UK only) 2016 Related research Connected devices in 2016: Evolution, not revolution Rebate trumps direct retail for triple-play operators MoCA: The (North American) multiscreen QoS silver bullet Andrew Ladbrook is a Senior Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, looking at the impact of the latest developments in home network technology and smart connected
10 Concentrate on kind-of-fast broadband Telco interest in DSL acceleration is on the rise Fig. 1 DSL acceleration technologies Type Claimed speed improvements Operator interest Likely initial deployments Proponents of fiber-to-the-home/building (FTTH/B) claim that the telcos that invest in FTTH now will beat cable s inferior DOCSIS 3.0-based services in the long run. But the real question is how long telcos will use clearly inferior VDSL to undermine cable. Most telcos know they can t beat cable on speed. FTTH/B takes too long and is too expensive to roll out, especially as evidence suggests that few consumers are willing to pay a premium for 100Mbps-plus connections: Most will be happy with low- and mid-tier speeds, provided the price is right. It is this 90%-plus slice of the broadband market that the telcos will attack by using relatively low-cost VDSL technology to market kindof-fast 40Mbps+ services at prices that compete with cable s low- and mid-tier services. European telcos commitment to this strategy can also be seen in their growing interest not in FTTH/B, but in the so-called DSL acceleration technologies, such as vectoring, line-bonding, phantommode and G.fast (see fig. 1). The good news for cable is that few customers will churn to get kindof-faster speeds alone; price is much more likely to be the determining factor. In the advanced markets of Asia Pacific and Northern Europe, for example, Informa has only seen significant movement of customers to FTTH/B where services have been priced near or below currentgeneration broadband ones. But customers will stay if you give them a speed boost. More important, they won t mind when their operator increases their subscription fee a few months later, giving the operator that vital overall ARPU boost that top-tier superfast services just won t deliver. Some telcos are already making gains with their kind-of-fast broadband strategies. In the UK, for example, Informa estimates that in 4Q11, some 40,000-50,000 customers churned to BT s 40Mbps VDSLbased Infinity product, which is deliberately aimed at squeezing Virgin Media s mid-tier offers. The cable operator added just 19,100 new subscribers overall. But Virgin also proved that kind-of-fast broadband can enable cable to reduce churn and increase ARPU. It added some 133,000 subscribers to its 30Mbps mid-tier service, with the bulk upgrading from lower tiers. Future cable technologies promise to push speeds even higher (see fig. 2), but the best strategy for cable in the short-to-medium term is to periodically push up low- and mid-tier speeds and later prices to protect that vital mass-market base and boost ARPU overall. Vectoring 100Mbps over 500m AT&T (US), Belgacom (Belgium), BT (UK), KPN (Netherlands), P&T Luxembourg, Swisscom (Switzerland), Telecom Italia (Italy), A1 (Austria), Turk Telecom (Turkey) Line-bonding 95% increase in bandwidth over any distance AT&T (US), KPN (Netherlands), PCTL (Pakistan), Telus (Canada) Phantom mode 300Mbps over 400m KPN (Netherlands), Turk Telecom (Turkey), A1 (Austria), P&T (Luxembourg) G.fast 1Gbps over 200m Nascent interest from major operator R&D divisions Cable is more than ready for ultrafast broadband Fig. 2 Selected recent trials of ultrafast broadband over cable infrastructure Company Type Location Broadband speed trialed Technologies employed Arris Vendor US 4.5Gbps; Jun-11 Bonding of 128 downstream channels Get Operator Norway 1.4Mbps; operator did not disclose when trials took place Kabel Deutschland Operator Germany 1Gbps; trials reported in Sep-10 and Nov-10 SK Broadband Operator South Korea 800Mbps, in partnership with Arris; announced Jan-11 UPC Cablecom Operator Switzerland 1.37Gbps; reported in Feb-11 Virgin Media Operator UK 1.5Gbps; Apr-11 and Jul-11 Bonding of 32 downstream channels DVB-C2 (version 2 of the Digital Video Broadcasting Cable broadcasting standard) Bonding of 16 downstream channels Bonding of 32 downstream channels Bonding of 32 downstream channels Related research Superfast-broadband strategies: How to avoid turning fast food into a junk meal Case study: Belgacom makes the best of a bad hand with copper-centric NGA strategy First look: Telenet s Digital Wave 2015 project the cable network of the future Rob Gallagher heads Informa s global research into broadband, TV, digital media and connected-home
11 Use Wi-Fi to create new opportunities beyond offloading Wi-Fi has evolved not only as a technology but also as a business model. The technology is not just a tool to improve in-home connectivity, it has become a key part of operators strategy. Some are even calling it the new 4G. The offloading benefit for mobile operators dealing with increasing data demand is clear, but what is the business model for fixed-line operators? Together with DSL providers, cable operators were the first to invest in public Wi-Fi creating the demand for most of the vendors in this space (such as Ruckus or Ubiquisys). Now that Wi-Fi has improved its mobile capabilities by providing access to an increasing number of tablets and smartphones, fixed-line operators need to re-think their business to take full advantage of this technology (see fig. 1). Wi-Fi allows fixed-line operators to improve consumer reach into new mobile devices that emphasize video experience. Offering content for tablets and smartphones via Wi-Fi can reduce the dependency on mobile network operators and guarantee a better customer experience. There is still a potential opportunity for fixed-line operators to optimize their Wi-Fi implementation by offering wholesale capacity to mobile operators. Wi-Fi will be the key technology in allowing operators to offer mobile video content while LTE starts to scale. Wi-Fi is already capable of providing a good user experience for video and is already widely available, while LTE is a few years from mass market adoption in terms of either devices or connectivity. Convergent players are already adopting a very aggressive Wi-Fi strategy: AT&T and Verizon in the US are focusing on data off-loading; PCCW in Hong Kong is building a reliable mobile video platform; China Mobile is increasing data network reach and coverage; while, in the UK, BT is offering a wholesale model and Sky is using the technology as its mobile initiative. As a result, Informa forecasts that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspot locations will increase fourfold over the next four years to surpass 6.2 million (see fig. 2). Fixed-line operators already have a significant deployment and experience of Wi-Fi as a home connectivity tool. They should not underestimate the potential of the technology and not purely position it as an off-loading alternative to mobile operators. As consumer demand for video content continues to grow, Wi-Fi can represent a quick and effective way to add mobility to a video content service. Wi-Fi: Much more than a home network Fig. 1 Wi-Fi business evolution Evolution of carrier Wi-Fi strategy In home connectivity (Fixed operators) Outdoor access for nomadic users (Aggregators) Off-loading and coverage alternative (Mobile operators) Growth of mobile data traffic Public Wi-Fi hotspots will top 6 million globally by 2015 Fig. 2 Global, public Wi-Fi hotspots Hotspot locations (millions) Business innovation (Convergent players) 2015 Related research The current and future status of the operator Wi-Fi business model Learning from the Femtocell and Wi-Fi Pioneers Broadband/Wi-Fi bundling strategies: the latest battleground between fixed and mobile Júlio Püschel is a Principal Analyst and Head of Network Operator Strategy at Informa Telecoms &
12 Extend the operator s role Billing is a great opportunity for operators Fig. 1 Relative importance of assets for service providers building a content ecosystem For all the much-discussed disruptive threats from over-thetop services and connected TVs, the market for them in most territories is nascent at best and it is likely to remain so until three key areas are addressed. Fortunately for network operators, these are three areas in which they (unlike device manufacturers or OTT content aggregators) have expertise and experience. Thus to maximize their role within the emerging value chain, network operators should extend their remit and provide leadership in the following areas: Customer support: The key hindrance holding back the connected- TV market is the small number of those connected TVs that are actually being connected and used within the home. Manufacturers have no direct relationship with end users and many retailers are poor at helping consumers connect their devices. Informa s recent mystery shopper exercise revealed widespread ignorance among UK high street retailers about what connected TVs can provide. Tellingly, the best score came from the retail arm of UK s cable operator Virgin Media. Network operators are well-placed to help connect the home, and should actively promote their capabilities. Billing: Network operators should enable consumers to pay for content and apps on connected devices via an operator s monthly bill (see fig. 1). Paying for content on connected devices is often not straightforward and working with network operators will enable both manufacturers and content aggregators to offer a relatively frictionless billing experience. Content distribution: Network operators should look to partner with connected-device manufacturers (as Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the US have done with Samsung) or even OTT content providers to help them deliver high-quality video to the end user across a range of screens. If you have the content and the subscribers, you can strengthen audience loyalty by offering an enhanced service. Even if the content comes from another provider, there may still be a business opportunity for network operators. Ownership of the consumer data (24.1%) A billing relationship with the consumer (39.9%) A proprietary platform optimized for specific devices (11.0%) The latest premium content (11.0%) A deep catalog of content (14.0%) NOTE: Chart shows responses to the question: Which is the single most important asset for a service provider building a content ecosystem? n=573 Industry Survey, 2011 Working with Informa Related research Informa s Connected TV Survey 2011: Opportunity, change and uncertainty Connected-device bundling strategies: OTT players up the competitive ante for operators Anti-cord-cutting strategies: Pay-TV operators look to bundling to counter the risk Nick Thomas is a Principal Analyst for TV and Digital Media at Informa Telecoms & Informa Telecoms & Media s strategic insights, key market data and forecasts have led the market for more than 25 years. We have 65 analysts in nine research offices offering pragmatic and actionable advice to the leading global players in the telecoms and media sector. Our clients represent all parts of the value chain, from telecoms operators to pay-tv providers, from content providers to device manufacturers. Our syndicated research and comprehensive databases provide vital data and analysis focusing on the global telecoms and media markets, and are widely used and valued by industry professionals and thought leaders. We also provide a range of consultancy and bespoke research services, including white papers, webinars, strategy sessions and executive presentations. For more details on Informa Telecoms & Media and how we can help your company identify future trends and opportunities, please contact: Dominic Offord +44 (0)