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Policy: The up and coming marketing enabler in fixed line broadband

By November 18, 2015 No Comments

Thankfully she had her father (the kids’ grandfather) babysitting and the mother wasn’t using the internet and a web camera at home as a pseudo babysitter, while she was in a fancy restaurant enjoying a night out knocking back the wine with her friends.

The advert was for a home broadband service, but the main marketing message wasn’t the usual fast download speed and unlimited data volumes that was being demonstrated by the excellent webcam HD video feed from her home, it was the parental controls that could be configured and controlled via a smartphone.

I then checked out this operator’s web site to see what type of offers they had. So in addition to the parental controls there were another couple of main marketing messages; the use of speed boosts was one, so when you’re in a house with a lot of connected devices competing for a limited amount of bandwidth you can press a button on your app to get a two hour speed boost on the nominated device in order to speed up downloads of large files or improve the bandwidth for the HD (or ultra HD) film you are trying to watch. Given that people are watching TV and movies by downloading and then watching at a time (and on a device) that suits and/or directly watching the video by streaming, this turbo boost button can be an attractive option. The other one was 12 months free Netflix subscription bundled in.

So with speed boosts, access controls (content and time of day) and content partnerships – it all sounds very similar to what we’ve been talking about and implementing in the mobile world for the past few years.

Just like mobile, fixed broadband bandwidth is not unlimited, unlike consumers’ appetite for data. According to UK regulator Ofcom, the average data usage increased by 93% from 30GB to 58GB in 1 year (2013 to 2014) while average download speed increased by 28% from 18 M/bps to 23 M/bps in the same period.

In the US there seems to be a bit of kickback reported in the press to Comcast rolling out data caps for fixed broadband services. I can recall some very similar news stories about 3 to 4 years ago when mobile operators were weaning customers off unlimited data plans to tiered plans. As operators are looking to increase broadband adoption many are looking at low price plans with data caps.  This combined with increases in usage may increase the number of operators providing speed and data volume tiered offers.

With the increased appetite for video and the change in how people view TV, this results in an increase in data usage. At the same time tiered services are coming in, with options for IP video or voice traffic prioritisation, turbo boosts and the old recipe for bill shock still being there.

Fixed line operators can use the policy rules that have been established in the mobile world to make sure that they can promote TV and entertainment offers that customers want with one hand, make sure that their network costs are not going through the roof with the other and complete the real-time juggling act of ensuring that customers don’t get a nasty dose of bill shock.

We’ve seen a successful transition from unlimited to tiered services in the mobile market by using policy as a market enabler and not just a network control tool. Now it’s the turn of the fixed line market. Talking of which, Openet have just released a white paper on policy control in a multi-play world. Click here to download a copy.