It’s the time of year when we’re all making some sort of list and checking it twice. December seems to be the month we all move into panic mode, and only a little of that can be contributed to the holidays. Operators and vendors of all kinds are thinking about the coming year, and just how they will deal with network and customer demands.
It’s an exciting time to be in the broadband industry, but excitement comes in different flavors, ranging from total world domination to “how do I add new stuff without breaking my system (or the budget)?” There is no one magic elixir for success or to help sideline disaster.
Luckily, there are a few forward-thinkers out there who have come forward with their predictions for 2013; maybe there are some guidelines to follow. What is interesting is that, no matter what kind of operator you are, you are going to embrace wireless in some way, shape or form. In addition, if you aren’t thinking IP/IT transition, you need to start. Let me share a few prognostications in some key areas of interest:
>> Multiscreen Content
We all multitask, and the majority of video and TV consumption on mobile devices takes place in the home. According to Juniper Research, the “seamless user experience” has been talked about for many years but, during 2013, this will become a reality for many users. Content and applications increasingly will become common and synchronized across both fixed and mobile devices with personal data, preferences and behavioral data held in private and shared clouds. With 83 percent of video operators planning to offer TV Everywhere by 2013 (according to Infonetics Research), another group, MobiTV, envisions the following trends taking center stage next year: increased second-screen engagement that targets consumers with a personalized, social experience, and shifting policy right to streamline strategies to adjust to what and how content is viewed (more on this later).
But where is the money? Openwave Mobility points to what it calls “no frills” app-based data plans with time-limited video-streaming allowances. Such plans allow operators to upsell video passes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, resulting in extra revenue from users who want to upgrade while reducing network traffic from those who are not interested in video enough to pay for it.
>> Evolving Form Factors
Because operators will continue to target business services as a lucrative new revenue stream, they need to address how all data services can be accessed away from the traditional desk and hardwired phones. According to Ericsson ConsumerLab, a total of 57 percent of smartphone users use their personal smartphone subscriptions at work. Personal smartphones are increasingly being used for work, to send emails, to plan business trips, to find locations and more. As such, purchase intent is higher for tablets compared to desktop PCs, and for smartphones compared to laptops.
In 2013, 33 percent of all new applications will target a mobile form factor. "IT organizations will need to decide which mobile platforms they will develop their applications for, as almost half of the mobile application budget goes toward maintaining apps," notes David McNally, IDC’s IT Executive advisor. IDC also predicts that the increased number of mobile applications, the need to integrate them with enterprise systems, and the requirement for multiplatform development will drive the creation of many new mobile apps by IT services providers in 2013.
>> Policy Issues
“In 2013, as ‘policy management’ edges closer to becoming ubiquitous in developed markets, ‘policy engagement’ will come to the forefront. Up until now, operators have been focused on simple policy enforcement of such data traffic as blocking, throttling etc.,” posits Indranil Chatterjee, vice president/Product Management & Marketing at Openwave Mobility. “Policy engagement, on the other hand, focuses on richer and more meaningful interactions with users that are consuming data. Users will receive price-plan offers and promotions based on how and when they interact with content and network services. The network will start to act more like a guide, delivering a ‘curated’ experience to users, via real time, multimodal interactions that lend to easy adoption of new and contextually relevant services. In summary, the goal of policy engagement is to make these offers easy to understand, easy to adopt and easy to manage for users leading to greater monetization of data services for operators.”
>> The OSS Sandbox
There will be a continued focus on deploying advanced Operations Support Systems (OSS) next year, and operators will have to learn how to play nicely together. “It is not enough to lay fiber alone or upgrade to vectoring – an environment is also required in which multiple service providers can thrive and reach the customers simply and easily,” says Torbjorn Sandberg, CEO at Netadmin Systems. “Advanced OSS are needed to provide support for automated service fulfillment and service assurance, not only within an operator but, more importantly, between operators.”
>> Renewed Executive Involvement
IDC Senior Vice President Meredith Whalen thinks 58 percent of new IT investments in 2013 will involve direct participation by line-of-business executives. This participation is expected to grow to 80 percent in three years’ time, so the silos are coming down. The expanded role of line of business executives in technology decisions is a result of the advent of cloud, social and mobile technologies. "They are the great equalizers, the balance wheel of the corporate machinery," explains Whalen. "This shift in decisionmaking will have vast implications on how the CIO works with the line of business."
What does all this mean? As the broadband industry as a whole continues its global evolution, the networks built and run by operators and service providers face the challenge of keeping up with technological innovation, and the ever-growing business and consumer demand for bandwidth and new applications. Those whose jobs revolve around network hardware and software will be tasked with keeping up with myriad releases from vendors, while manufacturers and their representatives search for ways to match the right product with the right buyer.
In light of this, we at Communications Technology have taken a hard look at the kinds of information readers now require to make the business decisions that will keep them on the cutting edge of service provision in a competitive environment. As a result, early in January 2013, expect to see a new daily focus on helping operators and vendors work together to make the right product-and-services decisions. Whether you are in a top decisionmaking position at a service provider or if you are offering a best-of-breed broadband enhancement, there will be something for you!
Until then, the CT staff wishes all of you a safe and happy holiday season, and we look forward to continuing to provide you with the best broadband business intelligence in the coming year. As always, I want to hear from you. Please call me directly at 301/354-1795 or email me at email@example.com.