Trends to Watch on the Broadband Front

The year 2013 was a pivotal year for broadband as the growth of broadband service to the home knew no limits.  With the insatiable adoption of smartphones and tablets, the multi-device household became the norm across the US, Europe and Asia.  Hybrid copper-fiber networks and vectored VDSL led the technology discussion as the business case for FTTH unraveled for some providers. Actual deployment costs and the disruptions caused by installing fiber in the home were found to be unjustifiable, especially when compared to the performance, practicality and low cost of vectored VDSL.

In late 2013, the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) published the results of itsstrategic review. The review’s recommended “Optimized Multi-Technology Mix” scales back plans for FTTH from 100 percent to 26 percent of the fixed-line footprint and adopts a hybrid architecture including vectored VDSL for 44% of the fixed-line footprint.  In Germany, Deutsche Telekom blanketed 10 major metros with hybrid fiber and vectored VDSL networks in the access segment.

The rationale for pushing hybrid networks in all regions of the globe got an even bigger boost with the acceptance and adoption of vectoring by service providers.  The Australian NBN led the charge in Asia, with Deutsche Telekom, SwisscomKPN and Belgacomproceeding with plans to roll out vectoring in Europe.

A Keen Focus on the Customer Experience

As demand for speed grew in 2013, so did the need to reduce churn and improve the customer experience (see Figure below). The “customer experience” became a mantra for many service providers – concerned about improving customer satisfaction, even as they introduced a panoply of new services that could turn even the most demanding customer into a fanatical loyalist.  The problem:  with new services come new costs, and also disruptions, as providers sought to iron out the kinks and ensure smooth operations.

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As a consequence, pressure mounted to improve customer operations and retention, prompting service providers to adopt analytics.  The move was inevitable:  analytics has become a potent tool for analyzing operations across leading market segments – such as retail and banking – and at the same time service providers were beginning to grasp the incalculable value of the “big data” accumulating in their warehouses. Every customer transaction, across operations with millions of customers, introduces a wealth of data – data that can help service providers understand the customer better.

At the same time, big data from network operations, transaction records and internal systems can be put to work to improve call center operations and to mine intelligence deep in the service providers’ networks.  Suddenly analytics has become the great enabler.  The single-minded goal: to make customers happy with better service, more services, and lower costs.

Watch This Space!

These trends on the broadband front promise new gains for service providers and customers in 2014.  During the year, we’ll plan to spotlight these trends as we visit ASSIA’s service provider customers around the world and see the results of their innovation.