The technology and services of the network communications industry are converging – especially when it comes to the products and services provided by fixed broadband and mobile network companies.
As customers use their devices continuously at home and on-the-go, operators are looking to deepen customer relationships by offering a more holistic network approach. So as a crowded marketplace evolves to serve customers’ changing needs, a new opportunity is emerging for fixed and mobile operators to play an important role.
Through increased merger and acquisition activity and regulatory changes in various markets, more communication companies are able to offer both fixed broadband and mobile network services. A notable example is Vodafone’s $21 billion acquisition of 5 Liberty Global properties, growing their footprint to 116M mobile customers, 24M broadband customers, and 22M TV customers across Europe. Vodafone said the deal made it “Europe's leading converged operator” and said almost half its consumer European service revenues “now come from growing fixed and converged services.” This shift should continue as consumer behavior and connectivity norms shift.
Operators are shifting to a software and automation approach to their network management, enabling high scalability and deep network optimization all the way from the network core, edge network, and the services and devices that rely on them. By hosting both mobile and broadband services on the same infrastructure and creating a native interface between them allows operators to further unlock network optimization through softwarization.
These changes coincide with changes in the way consumers interact with the world. They want to connect fluidly at home and on their mobile devices. There is no longer any delineation between those two realms. Customers care about connectivity, not where it comes from. They expect their devices to shift seamlessly between home Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks. This standard will only increase as we see a proliferation of IoT devices — and 5G networks will be the Utopia of convergence.
Mobile operators are challenged with declining revenues from traditional streams such as voice, text, and data services. Over-the-top media companies now provide audio, video, and other media content, further encroaching on operators’ revenue streams while using their networks for free. As a result, operators are turning toward value-added services (VAS) to bolster revenue, build differentiation, and drive customer engagement. Operators have an opportunity to redefine and simplify how value-added services are delivered to customers in this new, converged environment. How do they bridge services and extend them to work across both fixed broadband and mobile networks, where services are not dictated by the reaches of a home Wi-Fi network?
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