Evolving consumer behaviors in the context of the pandemic and economic crisis
2023 brings the connected home industry to a critical juncture as network service providers (NSPs) navigate the long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis and face an uncertain economy and concerns about inflation.
While the shifting business landscape has not dampened consumer demand for new content and services, heightened price sensitivity is driving a high level of churn across over-the-top (OTT) service offerings. The picture is also increasingly challenging in broadband. Though broadband access providers have experienced less churn than OTT providers, new competitive broadband offerings — especially from 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) — has prompted subscribers to explore options for connecting to the internet.
For the entire community, however, engagement and retention are emerging as critical success factors. Those that can capture consumers’ attention with compelling services while maintaining high-quality broadband connectivity appear best positioned to thrive as we move deeper into the decade.
We discussed with Leopold Diouf, Senior Vice President of the Product Division of VANTIVA, about how the industry is responding to the market dynamics set to unfold over 2023.
While the shifting business landscape in 2023 is unlikely to dampen consumer demand for new content and services, heightened price sensitivity will drive higher churn levels across broadband network operators and over-the-top (OTT) service providers.
Players that embrace open, robust and intelligent customer premises equipment (CPE) while partnering with best-in-class product and service innovators stand the best chance of weathering an economically uncertain 2023, says Leopold Diouf, Senior Vice President of the Product Division, VANTIVA in a podcast interview for journalists ahead of CES 2023.
“Engagement and retention are emerging as critical success factors this year. Those that can capture consumers’ attention with compelling services while maintaining high-quality broadband connectivity appear best positioned to thrive as we move deeper into the decade,” says Diouf.
As high churn levels change the fundamental economics of the market, network service providers (NSPs) must ensure that average revenue per user (ARPU) is maintained while supporting strategic investments in network infrastructure, next-generation CPE, as well as strategic partnerships and emerging services.
“Managing these variables in 2023 will be incredibly challenging, given the nomadic ways of customers today. That said, service providers can glean important insights into what it takes to maintain or enhance competitiveness by focusing on ARPU,” explains Diouf.
Open, Robust and Intelligent Connected Home Platforms
From a CPE perspective, NSPs will be well advised to deploy in-home flexible platforms to offer enhanced functionality over time. It is a strategy, suggests Diouf, that will allow NSPs to optimize engagement with subscribers. Meanwhile, investing in open standards — such as OpenWRT, prplWRT, RDK-V, RDK-B, and other industry initiatives — contributes to a future-proof foundation for introducing new products, upgrading existing offerings and rolling out innovative services.
“CPE strategies throughout 2023 will also have to deliver robust and intelligent capabilities because it is no longer enough to connect to ultra-wide broadband GPON, DOCSIS — or even 5G fixed wireless access — networks,” notes Diouf. “Successful connected-home strategies will hinge on the ability to manage the rising digital complexity that is unfolding throughout homes worldwide,” he says.
Nowhere is this more true than managing Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the home. The steady rise of personal devices and smart appliances that require internet access has created a complexity that is extremely difficult for the typical connected-home subscriber to manage.
Trusted Stewards of the Complex Connected Home
NSPs that establish themselves as the trusted providers — and managers — of consumers’ complex digital lives will gain a strategic advantage, creating new opportunities to drive greater consumer satisfaction and engagement.
“Enhanced video, Internet-of-things, remote health and security services are all additional services that can be integrated and dynamically updated when intelligent, open CPE platforms are present in the connected home.” says Diouf.
This is all much easier said than done.
“But if effective integration is accomplished, it allows more subscribers to understand the services offered and increases the willingness of subscribers to sign up — and stay — with their ‘enhanced’ network service providers,” he says.
The Rising Impact of Strategic Ecosystems
Competition in the connected home market will be increasingly driven by how well players across the innovation value chain work together. It is, Diouf says, a team sport that requires specialists to map their innovations to a common repository of value.
For the connected home market, that repository is the CPE.
“That is why VANTIVA has spent years refining and perfecting relationships with its HERO Partner Program participants. It is how we can offer an integrated set of peerless security, gaming and health applications — to name just a few services — that are seamlessly integrated into open, robust and intelligent CPE offerings,” he says.
Open platforms allow the development and deployment costs to be shared across the entire community, which — over time — enables VANTIVA to support NSPs in deploying tailored services at a rapid pace.