Leonard Grace is the Founder of Broadband Convergent, a Broadband-Mobile-Cable-Wireless-Telecom market website focused on highlighting industry news and strategic issues within technology arenas. Highly researched and experienced insights and trends both inform and enlighten readers on current industry convergence of Broadband-Cable-Mobile-Wireless and Telecom Sectors.
As a technology market veteran with 20 years experience at Comcast Corporation, the founder currently serves as a broadband consultant and strategist to technology executives, managers and engineers.
Len’s bio includes contributions on the various technology forums serving the broadband industry:
Light Reading Cable: an internationally syndicated technology news organization
BroadbandBreakfast.com: a daily web site with definitive and independent news on broadband stimulus funding, wireless internet, and the national broadband plan under the banner Expert Opinion
SiliconANGLE: a blog reporting on Social Web and Tech Innovation
Bloomberg’s-Business Exchange: a community business portal for the sharing and collaboration of relevant and pertinent issues of the day
CISCO Community: Service Provider Mobility: Cisco blog highlighting the role of wireless & mobile integration within the broadband sector
SYS-CON Media | Ulitzer: International forum covering related topics of web 2.0, cloud, telecom, mobile, cloud computing, java, virtualization and more
CircleID: Collaborative news and opinion website where professionals come to connect, inform and be informed about the latest developments that are shaping the Internet infrastructure
Expertise in News-Opinion-Research-Insight and Trending in Broadband Markets
Researching convergent technologies and insights into industry trends, strategies, and direction for broadband, cable, mobile, wireless, and telecom sectors
Interpreting, developing, and producing relevant content to decision makers allowing dissemination of key market metrics to influence operating goals
Providing industry analytical support, intelligence, and trending to broadband constituents
Producing business news, opinion, and intelligence for broadband, cable, telecom, wireless, and mobile markets
Establishing industry leadership and
objectives in a challenging and competitive market
Communicating important skills for external audience to navigate and interpret market dynamics
Strategic analysis and recommendations on broadband
Research, insights and ramifications on government regulation
Strategic Business Relationship Metrics
Industry Research and strategic recommendations
New Business Development recommendations
Member: Gerson Lehrman Group- GLG Council
Len holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management from the University of Mississippi.
Leonard Grace is the Founder of Broadband Convergent, a Broadband-Mobile-Cable-Wireless-Telecom market website focused on highlighting industry news and strategic issues within technology arenas. Highly researched and experienced insights and trends both inform and enlighten readers on current industry convergence of Broadband-Cable-Mobile-Wireless and Telecom
The C a ble Indu stry has what could be characterized as a Machiavellian hold on consumers with its massive distribution system using opportunistic methods on outdate d hardware. Yes, the technology being used, the notorious set-top-box (STB) can only be described as throw-back to what cable executives wish were the way things used to be. The STB is rudimentary at best, allowing limited functionality and connectedness with today’s emerging technological innovations. Consumers Want Functionality The underlying reas on for Cable’s hold on a massive portion of consumers is the relatively ease of use, albeit limited functionality of its set-top-box. Consumers can easily channel surf and find their most enduring programs, but that is about it. Not only are consumers paying a premium via monthly fees for limited box functions, extra boxes are fee driven as well. Adding digital and HD access drives up the box price. In summary, the STB continues to be a throw-back to the early days of a now mature Cable Industry. Ease of use in functionality, programming access, IP connectivity, streaming, cloud storage, and social network access are emerging keys to success today’s consumer market and Cable Industry competitors have failed miserably in offering functionality in those consumer demands to date. Just head over to the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and revel over the new Smart TV’s emerging via Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic, with IP based connectivity, App access, OLED technology, and UHD (Ultra High Definition) capabilities. Hardware keeps driving the business, yet functionality remains underperforming. Disruptive Competition Not Meeting the Need Competitors like Google TV, Apple TV, Netflix and others have emerged to challenge the industry which now includes the TV manufacturers as well. These ventures have had little success in dislodging the stranglehold of Cable and Programmer relationships. Since this relationship has been opportunistic in control over mainstream programming access, competitors can’t seem to muster the program rights or consumer functionality required to make market in-roads. Programmers hold cable companies hostage over multiple channel demands in carriage fees, while ignoring upstart competition in the industry. See (Sony May Want to Launch an Internet TV Service) Until IP based competitors of the cable industry realize that functionality is a basic component of consumer needs, market dynamics will not change, at least in the near future. The average viewer needs a simple interface for accessing and controlling their programs. That interface must come with a wide range of programming choices, access to social networks, applications that enhance various connected portals, all on two devices, the TV and remote control. The traditional set-top-box should not be part of that equation. Yet the Cable Industry moves to improve consumer access to multiple connected devices albeit with a hefty cable video package in tow. See (What Do “Cable Nevers” Mean for TV’s Future?) See (Why Intel's New IPTV Service Will Do What Google, Apple and Microsoft Can't) Program Distribution’s Existing Bottleneck Until consumer program distribution metrics are changed a bottleneck will exist for competitiveness in the Cable Industry. If programmers realized their current distribution method is outdated and unrealistic in its fundamental assumptions, that an IP based distribution using cloud technology method holds enormous potential in consumer access and purchasing power, the game would change immediately. Broadband, Mobile and Wireless connections are becoming accessible to most of the masses and that correlates to a US and worldwide distribution method. Yet, programmers hold on to an archaic model of distribution, immersed in collusion with a mature dying market. To break the Machiavellian model of Cable Industry-Programmer as a consumer only alternative, ease of use functionality must be intrinsically tied to any disruptive technology, or it will not survive.
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Broadband; we want it, and we all depend on it; but where you live can impact access and adoption of the best that service providers have to offer. The FCC is looking to change both geographic and demographic limitations now plaguing the U.S. in the global race for broadband economic supremacy. Can combinations of a fixed and wireless-mobile strategy improve broadband economic viability by increasing access, adoption, and affordability across the broadband spectrum? Geographic Limitations The reality is significant, that where you live depends on the access and quality of broadband service available for most U.S consumers. Its impact is felt most positively in highly dense population areas like the Northeast and large urban centers where private companies have concentrated their efforts to capture lucrative and highly upward socio-economic demographics. This gives the most ROI (Return on Investment) for the large companies to provide the (best of the best) in broadband. Demographic Limitations On the other side of this equation are the less dense and less upwardly economic population centers. These are the rural areas where providing the best that broadband has to offer, is and continues to be, economically unviable to service providers. It is a matter of demand and supply, a consequence of our free economic system which relies on private capital to create goods and services which benefit us all. Without the infusion of capital directed to low income and less dense areas there will continue to be a wide gap of access and adoption of broadband in the U.S. Access and Adoption The National Broadband Plan-The FCC has formulated a plan to incorporate an initiative to close the gap of the so called underserved with respect to broadband. It has addressed these issues by targeting areas of needed improvement in the telecommunications arena for the U.S. • Universal Service Fund-A plan to redirect funds to broadband access, originally adopted to subsidize Telco providers to serve under populated areas with telephone service where the economics in providing this service was unfeasible • Spectrum Reallocation-A plan to reallocate spectrum from broadcasters and government entities which were not being utilized to wireless-mobile broadband initiatives • Broadband Stimulus Plan-Provide funding, approximately $7Billion, to encourage service providers to build broadband infrastructure into underserved areas. Funding was allocated through an extensive grant process to prove viability of the applicant • Net Neutrality- A controversial plan to provide equal and unencumbered access to broadband for all involved constituents A Fixed and Wireless-Mobile Solution In reality economic realities of wide-spread adoption of broadband continues to be sporadic due to the large investments service providers must make to realize a reasonable return on investment. Since competition brings prices down for consumers, operators are only willing to compete where the most attractive demographics and dense population centers exist. With the advent of continued proliferation from wireless coverage throughout the U.S., and the projected exponential growth in mobile access, adoption and affordability through LTE to 4G technology; the realities of serving less populated areas becomes increasingly more likely. The strides being made in technology within the mobile arena can significantly impact the broadband community. Cisco White Paper: (See LTE: Simplifying the Migration to 4G Networks) • Mobile is highly competitive and requires less infrastructure thereby reducing capital outlays by service providers. This is the most promising solution along with fixed broadband to penetrate underserved areas in the near future. • Mobile operators will continue upgrading back-haul infrastructure to enhance coverage and reliability within the network • 4G technology will increase network efficiencies, economics, coverage, and enhancements to give users a top quality experience at a reasonable price • A wireless revolution for both consumer and business dynamics with applications to improve energy consumption, travel efficiencies, educational opportunities, health diagnosis and monitoring, environmental solutions, and business processes will be a true reality in the near future. The outlook of a fixed and wireless-mobile strategy to bring about widespread access and adoption of broadband to the masses, while significantly achieving a global and competitive reality for the U.S., cannot be over-stated.
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Hey Mark, Average broadband speeds can be decieving to some degree. Since the US has a widely dispersed geographical population with many rural areas, as well as urban ones; the numbers that Akamai is referencing could be skewed. While metopolitain and urban centers have much faster speeds and availability than rural areas, speeds could be averaged down as a result. With that said, the US may not be in a true sense, as low on the scale as projected with respect to population density. The KPI's that are inherent in providing a snapshot of speeds and reliable connectivity are: Network Availability Speed Link Service Availability (In %) Retainability Bandwidth Download Speed (kbps/Mbps) Upload Speed (kbps/Mbps) Upload/Download Ratio Contention Ratio Round Trip Time (RTT, Milisec) Jitter (Millisec) PacketLoss % Tarriff Comparison Customer Service Unplanned Outage Automation Notice Planned Outage Notice Automated Ticket System for Complaints Response to Assistance Requested Billing Complaints Service Provisioning Complaints Broadband Service Provider (Benchmarking) Time for Repetition of Experiments (Alternate Days) Thanks
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Hey Mark, Thanks for the great comment. It is important for companies view the important aspect of KPI's not only as a short-term solution, but a long-term one as well. To that end I'm attaching a link to; A PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS FOR UMTS PACKET SWITCHED NETWORK BASED ON MULTIVARIATE KPIS from the International Journal of Next Generation Network (IJNGN), Vol.2, No.1, March 2010. Author: Ye Ouyang and M. Hosein Fallah, Ph.D., P.E. Howe School of Technology Management Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, USA 07030 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Hope this is of some help. Thanks!
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Bandwidth is the basic foundation for Internet traffic as a connector to everything important in our lives. Whether it is basic bandwidth for connecting to family and friends, or a super fast highway for global reach and competitiveness in the business world, bandwidth constitutes the speed at which we connect as a global presence within the expanding sphere of Internet communication. Bandwidth: “defined as the speed at which data is transferred over an electronic communication device like a server. The units of measurement are based on the maximum transfer rate and measured in either Kbps or Mbps.” • Kbps: (kilobits per second) – “A measure of 1000 bits of information transferred per second.” • Mbps: (Megabits per second) – “A measure of approximately one million bits of information transferred per second.” To understand why bandwidth is important to all Americans, including personal and business uses, we must understand the different types Internet traffic. We also must understand U.S. bandwidth rankings from a global perspective and how successful infrastructure upgrades can ensure fast, secure and easily accessible information sharing in a globally competitive economy. Types of Bandwidth • Dial-up – the lowest speed of bandwidth providing 56 kbps connection normally used for e-mail only as transferring large files are impossible. • DSL – much faster than dial-up and has plenty of bandwidth to spare. Is good for large file downloads like video, typically provided by a modem and phone line installation. • Cable – provided by Cable TV companies with a Hybrid-Fiber Coax connection. It provides speeds faster than DSL which typically range from 4Mbps to 8Mbps. Increases speeds of large download and uploads. • Fiber – The future of the Internet rests with the fiber connection. Fiber must be run to your home or business and provides speeds of 30Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. US Global Ranking It can be seen in the accompanying graph, (Courtesy Akamai 2010), that global connection speeds are much higher in countries like South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and many other countries. In fact, the US is ranked 11th in the Top 10 Countries – Average Connection Speed –Q4 09. From an economic standpoint, the US must move to change its bandwidth competitiveness on a global scale. Many conclude that a free and competitive business model of the US has kept us behind the curve in Internet speed, access and adoption. Enter the National Broadband Plan, developed by the FCC, to change our status in all aspects of the Internet. A comprehensive road-map that directs the adoption of Internet standards to take us through the next 10 years to improve speeds, accessibility, and universal adoption for both business and personal use. Uses The uses of fast bandwidth can be chronicled in forward thinking experts who realize to inevitable potential to change the business and personal use of bandwidth can change our lives, from energy conservation through monitoring and applications , remote medical monitoring and diagnosis, B2B applications to strengthen collaboration, and remote educational advances through e-learning. These applications all have the potential to advance the U.S. in job creation and a global competitive advantage. Infrastructure Upgrades Unfortunately, due to a lack of wide-spread competition within network provider footprints our Bandwidth does not compare to a more government oversight approach adopted in other developed nations. While the FCC is looking to change the dynamics in competition, while mandating future bandwidth speeds in measureable increments of time; it will be incumbent on Internet Service Providers to upgrade their networks sooner rather than later. • The Cable Industry has approached Internet upgrades with the advent of Docsis3 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification), permitting the addition of high-speed data transfer over a Cable TV system. • Verizon is accomplishing the task by upgrading to FIOS (Fiber-to-the-Home) approach, using the future or (end-game) solution, which most operators will move toward eventually. • AT&T has adopted the U-Verse solution which uses IP (Internet Protocol) to deliver its high-speed Internet service. The bottom line remains that without a comprehensive plan by Internet Service Providers to continue an aggressive infrastructure improvement strategy, the US will continue to lag behind globally in bandwidth speeds without proper upgrade incentives, which could put us at a distinct disadvantage in a fast growing global economy.
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Kevin Shatzkamer is the Chief Architect for Cisco Mobility and speaks to the mobile research Cisco has developed in helping Mobile Service Providers reach their ROI goals and objectives in projecting an increasingly demand driven market. World Cup and Mobility Q. How will current World Cup viewership demand impact the mobile community from a network capacity standpoint? VIEWING SOURCE – WORLD CUP GAMES Source Company % Internet ESPN-ESPN3 31% Radio ESPN Radio 8% Mobile ESPN Mobile Sites 6% "Traditional TV remains the dominate source of viewing for the games" A. There has been speculation for years that increased demand for mobile video would tax and possibly crash current networks and infrastructures of mobile operators. A predictor may be The World Cup games being held in South Africa. “We know that AT&T, VERIZON, SPRINT, MobiTV and QUALCOMM FloTV have teamed up to work with ESPN to offer mobile video coverage of the games.” From real-time research conducted by ESPN on current World Cup video demand has produced the following statistics: MOBILE VIDEO TRENDING Event Source Total Views Total Days Vancouver Olympics Mobile 2.0 Million 17 World Cup Mobile 1.8 Million 7 “What is interesting in these statistics is that not only are people watching on mobile video, but they are spending an inordinately long period of time watching video on their mobile device, which is significant. Speaking to network capability in handling this viewership, think of over one-hundred thousand cell towers in the U.S. alone, not to mention globally, to handle this demand and you can see the network is not currently being impacted significantly.” Mobile Traffic in the Future Q. Where does mobile traffic go from here and what are the demands going to be for video in both near and long term? A. Cisco predicts that sixty-six percent of mobile traffic in the future will be video and whether the FCC’s reclamation of needed spectrum is enough is not yet known. Kevin goes on to explain that whenever you have a delivery method that leverages a finite resource, such as spectrum; there will always be increased contention depending on what people are doing over that network at any particular time. It’s important to remember that video over wireless can be taxing on the entire network, not just the radio interface. One example is the backhaul network, which is always provisioned with some level of oversubscription. There are technologies that can be used today like video optimization and multicasting technologies which can help a service provider better distribute and deliver mobile video. Other solutions include moving from streaming video to more adaptive protocols like fragmented MP4. Video and the Network Q. Why should we look at mobile video as just another application within the network and not a bandwidth hog that could potentially crash the network during peak usage? A. As an analogy to building strong video infrastructure, Kevin points out that Cable Operators have invested tremendous amounts of capital in their video delivery platforms. It is important to understand that cable has the revenue models which support this kind of investment. Wireless on the other hand has not developed the kind of revenue streams for video since the demand has not been sufficient to support that investment, albeit on a smaller scale. However, research indicates that as mobile video continues to grow, these kinds of investments will be needed to upgrade current networks to both capitalize on revenue streams and handle the burgeoning demand for video over increasingly diverse devices. Long-term, video might not be looked at strictly as an over-the-top service for mobile, but instead an opportunity for mobile service providers to insert themselves into the value chain; if this successfully occurs, the infrastructure investments which need to take place will happen. Cisco’s experience with operators continues to indicate a focus on optimizing the entire network, including the backhaul, which needs to be a primary consideration in subscription models. Cisco is helping operators control the impact of video by implementing intelligent network capabilities in the core, mobile services and gateways, and backhaul networks. These solutions add immediate value by conserving the RF itself, but also provide the foundation for new monetization capabilities. He adds that adding more spectrum is helpful to the problem, but should not be the only focus of mobile operators. Kevin points to a consistent theme across all models whether it’s Docsis3 or LTE in that the Internet Protocol (IP) is becoming less about a transport mechanism and more about a service delivery platform. He compares Docsis3.0 carrying cable signals to a modem which becomes your access point, where mobile will use the cell tower as the same type user access point. In essence, from the access point back through the network, IP will be the primary technology for service delivery. Net Neutrality and Regulation Q. What is the potential impact of Net Neutrality possible legislation which could affect service provider ability to manage their networks? A. The crux of Cisco’s policy release takes a practical view regarding any initiatives that would control service provider network management strength. In essence, “Cisco supports competition within the marketplace and believes that any regulation based on any perceived or potential future abuses are not in the best interest of logical network management practices.” At best the outlook for where technology will be in the future is uncertain, but as progression in technology evolves as a result of private market forces, any attempt to regulate those forces would dampen private investment as a natural evolution. It is inherent that networks be managed in a way to promote bandwidth optimization which fills the needs of both casual and heavy users. Fair usage will be critical to enabling any network of the future and requires an intelligent IP infrastructure. This also sets the stage to use tiered pricing to offer expanded services critical to a B2B and B2C economical model. Tiered Pricing Models Q. Why is tiered pricing important for Service Providers in the Future? A. Quoting Bernstein Research to predict the evolution of mobile data and how fast it is growing in a shift from a voice dominated model to a data dominate model, Kevin conveys that 50% -70% of future revenue will begin to come from a data model with a de-coupling of mobile revenue and traffic with revenues now accounting for $.43 per Megabyte. Bernstein predicts that by 2014 those current revenues will drop to $.02 per Megabyte and points to current revenue models as becoming deflationary. While networks are moving from circuit to packet models as they continue to upgrade their infrastructure, the amount of capital invested as compared to resulting ROI is expected to decrease 30% by 2014. Increasingly mobile service providers will be looking for ways to monetize their networks. While the tiering trend has been with the cable industry for quite some time, it has not yet evolved within mobile markets. Kevin predicts this will change as the industry evolves to the tiered approach beginning with flat-rate for basic users and progressing to higher level packages as individual demand increases. Using the 80-20 rule, Kevin compares how only 20% of all users can demand an exorbitant amount of bandwidth and tiering is an inevitable market force in the future. In reality, this will not affect the majority of users where pricing will be very competitive, but will take the heavy users to an appropriate bundling strategy that can handle specific demands at a relative price model. Creating New Revenue Models becomes Critical It can be surmised that current pricing models within the mobile industry is driving traffic to higher levels especially with the amount of rich applications being afforded customers due to the iPhone and Android appearance on the scene with open source development driving those applications. However, mobile operators are only covering their costs with current revenue models and will need the new service offerings and pricing models to create additional revenues and ROI in the near future. Kevin, shares that tiered pricing is only one model of the total business spectrum service providers should be looking at to grow ROI. Cisco is committed to helping providers find other businesses and models to extrapolate the potential of future networks. That being from a standpoint of B2B services in environmental, energy savings and monitoring services with which both businesses and consumers could reap much higher benefits from these kinds of services. Mobile data penetrations are nearing 50% and voice penetrations are already at 95% which brings further credence to understanding the need for service providers to differentiate mobile service offerings, including mobile data, to retain existing customers, grow their subscriber base, and increase their revenues.
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Cisco’s mantra continues to be about networking and collaboration, and that is what it continues to offer consumers and busy executives with an array of products. Cisco Cius Starting with the newly introduced Cisco Cius at the Cisco live conference in Las Vegas, it promises to take business collaboration to the next level with its HD quality video and wireless desk-top integration. From collaborating at the office or from a remote location the Cius makes it possible to keep you in touch with what is important in your business. Features include Cisco network centric: • Unified Communications • Quad Collaboration Platform Tools include: • Webex Collaboration Cloud • Cisco Telepresence o Real-time collaboration • Cisco Quad Collaboration o integrating business apps with social networking tools, with VoIP, instant messaging, video, and calendars Forward and Rear facing cameras o Forward for HD Video 720p o Rear for 640x480 video and still image captures • Cloud Apps • Docking It does not matter where you are when collaboration takes place because the Cius brings you front and center with real time business integration. Cisco Valet With consumers in mind, the Cisco Valet is a simple but yet ingenious wireless router for the home priced at $99.00, and makes connecting the whole home Wi-Fi experience a fast and easy task, which historically could be somewhat of nightmare. The Valet soothes consumers into “easily connecting your family’s computer, games and devices to the Internet”. Features: • Get Connected o Create a wireless hotspot in your home and quickly connect your laptops, desktops, game consoles, and mobile devices to the Internet. Treat your family to an Internet experience that simplifies your life. • Set Up in Minutes o Simply insert Valet's included Easy Setup Key to launch Cisco Connect software, breeze through the simple screens, and you're wireless. • You’re the Boss o Parental controls allow you to limit your kids' time online, block specific sites and/or certain times of the day. Customize the settings on each computer for a safer Internet experience. • Instant Guess Access o Give friends and visitors password access to the Internet but not your private information. Cisco Flip With its announcement on March 19, 2009, Cisco purchases Pure Digital Technologies, Inc, maker of the Flip, while increasing its brand in consumer technologies. Ned Hooper, senior vice president of Cisco's Corporate Development and Consumer Groups communicated that, "The acquisition of Pure Digital is key to Cisco's strategy to expand our momentum in the media-enabled home and to capture the consumer market transition to visual networking." The Flip allowed consumers to instantly capture, edit and share video with family, friends and colleagues then organize, edit and immediately share with YouTube, MySpace and other networking sites. Fast forward to April 13, 2010, Cisco announces the launch of the All-New Flip SlideHD which can capture events and replay them immediately to friends or family. Consumers will be allowed to shoot four hours of HD video while storing twelve hours on the SlideHD, and it travels with you when needed sharing video with anyone, anywhere. Specifications: Color: White/Silver and Personalized Recording Time: Up to four hours Storage Time: Up to 12 Hours Memory: 16GB Screen: 3-inch wide transflective touch screen Video Resolution: High Definition; 1280x720 (30fps) Video Format: H.264, MP4 Battery: Internal Li-ion rechargeable Battery Life: Up to two hours TV Output: HDMI Widescreen Zoom: 2x digital Audio: Stereo speakers, headset jack The Flip SlideHD is priced at $279.99 at major retailers, online retailers and at the Flip Store. Cisco Flip MinoPRO camcorder First in a series of the enterprise-class Cisco Prosumer Video solution camcorder products, The Flip MinoPRO enhances business process and improves collaboration by allowing the capture of video content for secure editing and sharing. Benefits: • Added dynamic component to messages: o Record earnings calls, company announcements, and product demos to improve delivery of communications within and outside of organizations. • Improved information delivery and retention: o Use video capture to share best practices, sales techniques, and complex processes and designs to increase collaboration. • Reduced global barriers and travel costs: o Provide video training instead of spending the time and money to travel. • Ease of use: o Spend more time producing relevant content with the easy-to-use Cisco Flip MinoPRO camcorder. Cisco continues to raise the bar in both consumer and business collaboration with its video integration and communications processes through the web, making and it both easy and affordable for next generation technology to serve customer needs.
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Good article, Brian! Operators will continue evolving their networks to take advantage of additional monetization models and Cisco will help them do just that! It is a great article to share with both internal and external constituents. Thanks!
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If you believe Cable Operators are not thinking about Mobile Networks and what kind of synergies could bring them increased cash-flow in the future, then you’ve probably missed the obvious signs laid out since 2008. Strategic Partnerships Starting with their investment in Clearwire in 2008, companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House have upped their anti in wireless and mobile strategies. Other companies with investments in Clearwire include Sprint, Intel and Google. This is not an idle investment by the cable community; it is a strategy to combat the increasing co mpetition in Northeast markets by telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T with Quad-Play capabilities. This competition will eventually spread to other regions as increased investment opportunities present themselves. With the Quad-Play on the table as an option for customer superiority within the most profitable and populated markets as the Northeast, not having a 4-play strategy just doesn’t make good business sense. Fast forward to today and one can see these scenarios’ playing out as Verizon’s FIOS and Verizon Wireless bundle along with AT&T’s U-Verse and AT&T Wireless services are nipping at cable’s heels for supremacy. Mobile Strategy The mobile strategy for cable operators may simply involve current economics. It is quite obvious that creating strategic partnerships with companies like Clearwire and Sprint is a quick and easy way to deliver the mobile market on a selective basis while not having to invest needed capital in a start-up entry. In point, if a partnership gets the job done and allows you to stave off your competitors, and only where there is Quad-Play competition; it relates to both cheaper and faster to market economics. See (Reality Check: Now is the Time for Cable Quad Play) Mobile Back-Haul Revenue An additional revenue generator for cable operators is the mobile back-haul market. As mobile operators continue to upgrade their networks to 4G, the need to replace existing infrastructure in middle mile and the edge to the cell tower becomes critical, especially with video, apps and increased voice minutes becoming a major players on mobile networks. It is e stimated that by 2015 this could become a $3billion per year revenue windfall. “Cable operators like Microwave, fiber and copper vendors will benefit from this concern”. See (Cable Operators will find Success in Mobile Wireless Backhaul a New Visant Strategies Study Finds) The advent of these partnerships between cable operators, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House with Clearwire and Sprint involves the limited, deliberate, and measured investment into the mobile community while only launchin g where they need to compete. They are enjoying great cash-flow from video operations, including Digital Cable, VOD, HDTV and DVR’s while bundling Internet and IP Telephone for the Triple-Play, in markets with limited competition. Currently it seems partnerships are the best way to enter the mobile market in a limited way, and at least in the short-term. However, cable should consider expanding those markets for a Quad-Play, or it could lose being first to market and face a catch-up game with potential competitors and find that winning back customers is much harder than being the incumbent.
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Since the dust has settled from a stinging defeat in federal court, the FCC has decided to move on its own to settle the broadband regulation dispute. With a 3-2 vote the commission issued a Notice of Inquiry that would set the stage for more regulatory authority of broadband. It seems ironic that the motivating factor was the court case brought by Comcast in Federal District Court to immobilize the FCC’s efforts to sanction the service provider from throttling Bit Torrent, file sharing customers. Evidently commissioners felt not only embarrassed that it did not have authority over broadband, but that any move to interfere in future disputes in net neutrality questions would be tied up in the courts for years. Not only were those issues, but parts of the National Broadband Plan was predicated on the FCC having authority to move its agenda forward, bringing this into question. Clearly this is a commission determined, with the necessary votes, to stem the tide of court challenges of its authority in the broadband arena. Congress has been absent in formulating any new rules to effectively address the tremendous up-surge in Internet traffic resulting in these issues being brought to the forefront. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did nothing to address the Internet since, at that particular time; most of us were barely getting our feet wet on this new and exciting realm. Now, the landscape has changed to remind everyone involved of the potential expand or retract the Internets growth and accessibility. With constituents on opposite sides of the regulatory debate hitting Capitol Hill with power lobbyists, congress is now weighing in on the issue with rumblings of new bills to clarify the FCC’s responsibilities. A democratic congress could assure that laws are enacted to give the FCC its due course in reining in a perceived Wild-Wild West Show the Internet has provided by solidifying an upfront regulatory environment. Whether this will dampen investment in the very technology that could create and sustain new jobs should weigh in on every lawmaker in Washington, D.C. It could also run counterproductive to the President’s already lagging approval ratings if new jobs are not both a clear and near term focus. What does the economy need: a determined focus on job creation and job sustainability? Let us not forget that market investment, not regulation, creates and sustains new jobs.
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Hey Kevin, What is unique about your comments is that not only are you viewing the landscape from a technology standpoint, but your insights also address the business model. This is important in recognizing the role both play in helping Service Providers reach a level of monetization which will support the technology innovations. With that said, it would be great to talk with your further about mobility and the role Cisco can play in helping SP's reach their goals.
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Kevin, very interesting statistics! Until the final statistics are known the full impact of mobile video demand at WorldCup 2010 is yet to be seen, but it seems evident the numbers are going up quickly. As you probably know the FCC is proactively seeking to reclaim spectrum for the anticipated demand in mobile services. What role do you see Cisco playing in helping service providers be more proactive in anticipation of that demand?
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Sophie, very interesting post! It would be great to know how this scenerio turns out. The World Cup should truly be the first test of how operator networks are able to handle the increased video and applications associated with such an event. Thanks!
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The mobile phone market is growing exponentially and will continue to evolve for years to come. Why has the Cable Industry not moved into the lucrative mobile phone market? It could definitely be a revenue bonanza, as it currently is for telecom companies. See (The cable company will likely use WiMax to bring television shows to cell phones and smart phones.) Verizon and AT&T’s revenues, as a percentage of stock price by division, attributes mobile phone service up to 40-42% of total revenues. This being a logical assumption as landline phone demand has forced incumbent Telco’s to rethink their business models to include cable, broadband, and cell phone. The mobile market has exploded with smart phone technology and related applications for consumers continually on the go while wanting the latest gadgets to keep up with friends, business, and news. Why has this not attracted at least, some interest from the major cable players like a Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and others? See (TREFIS-Division as a % of Stock Price) If you look at trending where the future of a Triple Play seems to be relegated to a future 2nd grade status behind the Quad Play, while seemingly logical that to compete in the telecommunications market for consumer dollars, a one-stop shopping model needs to be in place; one would think some indication of cable companies launching or acquiring mobile service would be on the immediate horizon. Let’s think this through. The Telecom Industry saw the “writing on the wall” when landline phone service began to decline, and hence forth began to diversify into other markets such as mobile phones, broadband, and cable TV service. It is logical that their upside in both the mobile phone, broadband, and cable TV markets is solid. With cable operators now looking at a possible paradigm shift from traditional cable to other venues, would it not make good economics to put your business on the same playing field with competitors? It would seem logical to me. There is a definite upside in getting into the mobile market for incumbent MSO’s; as in “keeping up with the Joneses’”, or if you prefer, your close competitors. See (From Triple Play to Home Run: Why Your Cable Company Should Offer Cell phone Service) The Cable Industry has positioned itself to offer a myriad of services within the cell-phone market to other providers, but unfortunately it does not include its own. However having a competitive cell-phone service is more true to a solid success. If businesses fail to see trends that will impact their bottom line, they are doomed to failure. That is why companies must always be looking for a competitive advantage or keep up with existing competitor offerings, while making the best decisions to affect stockholder equity in a positive manner. Yes, revenues and profits may be good in the short term, but a long term strategy is what really matters, and it seems this is too good of an opportunity not to indulge.
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Have you ever incurred an incident where your child has become lost and needed help? How many times has this issue cro ssed every parents mind as they wait for sons or daughters to come home or receive a phone call to hear; I’m okay? Amdocs has just this scenario in mind when creating CRM solutions which marry broadband, mobile, GPS, and IPTV technologies which interface in giving real time convergence for service providers in solving real life problems. Scenario 1. Dad is watching TV and sets caller display to (Do Not Disturb) unless a family member calls. 2. Megan his 16 year old daughter calls from her mobile phone, the TV shows she is calling and gives a prompt to pause live TV 3. Dad uses TV remote to answer call and speaks to Megan via the TV conference service 4. Megan says she is lost and can Dad pick her up 5. Dad uses the TV remote to select the “Find Me” application which use the GPS capability of Megan’s mobile phone to show her location of a Google map Amdocs has successfully integrated B2B solutions for service providers to offer customers what they want, when they want it. And this is just the “tip of the iceberg” with the kind of solutions Amdocs has in store for companies wanting to capture the (Quad-Play), keeping customers from migrating elsewhere to get that encompassing all-in-one service. This is the challenge going forward and Amdocs offers the solution. Subscriber Data Management Marrying CM-RM-OSS solutions in a virtual directory employing synchronized and up to date configuration data serving the jNETX, (Communications and Commerce) system Amdocs provides Tru-2Way, EBIF, and Yahoo Widgets with Voice CMS-Calling name server- Set-Top-Box to offer a true in-ho me communications experience that is TV enabled. It combines third party configurations through Voice Switch-Presence Server-HLM to complete the external communications. Use of Multi-Platform Recommendation Engine • Interconnected TV o Yahoo Widgets • STB based DTV o Tru2Way EPG o EBIIF EPG • Smart Phone • PC Web Browser Value Proposition By combining subscriber data management and cross-platform personalization, Amdocs establishes the critical infrastructure to build integrated customer experiences while leverage existing investments, and provide consistent recommendations across multiple platforms. To realize a better recommendation hit ratio, multi-platform usage improves the accuracy of subscriber preferences resulting in a greater number of impulse purchases while improving the accuracy of addressable advertising subscriber data. Success in the Connected World It cannot be denied, there is a march to a connected world where both business and consumers will be interacting together with superior technologies and applications that were little more than a dream ten years ago. Amdocs wants to increase the speed at which these services reach the market by helping service providers to: • Expand Faster by connecting emerging devices while penetrating new industry verticals • Drive Experience so customers will live a truly connected life across devices, networks, screens and services • Run Leaner by building cost-efficient business and technical environments that can bring change quickly to on-board new partners while remaining manageable and controlled Message Amdocs is an Open Systems company which is investing the future of the Pay TV industry while innovating to increase the speed of convergence The point to be made is that service providers will need to upgrade their legacy systems to compete in the (war of the brands) for the total customer experience. Brand names will outstrip incumbents in the race for an increasingly hungry one-stop shop consumer. A continuing consolidation of markets will result in fewer but larger players who are well funded while an increasingly regulatory environment will begin appear.
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