It’s been a crazy year, with operators vacillating between how to zoom ahead in a competitive environment and how to protect their bottom lines in an economy that is just starting to recover.
As things stand today, there is much to consider. Here are a few things we know for sure:
Programming fees are on the rise, and subscribers don’t want to bear the brunt of paying for content they don’t want and don’t use.
Spectrum capacity will continue to be crunched as new wireless devices and applications make their way into the market.
No consensus exists as to the best way to get content to subscribers in any way and at any time.
It’s going to be hard to put the genie back into the bottle when it comes to transitioning customers from “all you can eat” data plans to tiered pricing based on actual usage.
New federal mandates, including possible changes to Title II and to existing broadband policy, still are up in the air in Washington, making it hard for service providers to make well-informed decisions.
That’s just the short list. I recently visited the headquarters of the National Cable Television Cooperative, and we spent some time talking about next year’s challenges to the cable industry. For example, next year could be the right time for operators to come to terms with a la carte pricing. Customers want it, and they are voting with their keyboards to go elsewhere (free [for now] or low-cost IPTV or VoD programming, Netflix, upcoming offerings from Apple and Google, and I could go on and on). New inroads into the hospitality market also could be on the agenda along with an increased emphasis on such new moneymakers as security services.
Communications Technology will tackle a number of these concerns next year. Here’s just a taste of what we’ve got planned in our focus issues: TV Everywhere (including devices and home networking), New Business & Revenue Streams (MDUs, hospitality, utilities, home security and wireless backhaul), Interactive Video, Pay TV and VoD; Advanced Advertising; IPTV; and more fiber, more rural, more wireless and more CMAP/DOCSIS advances. And we also are planning a new spate of technical updates, special sections, Webcasts and Tech E-Letters.
2011 promises to be a year of industry cha-cha-cha-changes across the board, with some easier to implement than others. I think service providers are ready for the surge, and many are beginning to take the necessary steps to thrive and not just to survive.