To compete with heavyweight competitors like Amazon and Google in the battle for homeowners' hearts and wallets, telcos must break free of their traditional business models, focus on smart home platforms and be more creative in how they deliver and charge for services, concludes ABI Research.
CSPs also must leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for their smart home offerings, said Pablo Tomasi, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a release. Without all these steps, telcos will not realize the full smart home value of
$11.2 billion by 2022 -- a huge opportunity, albeit one full of challenges, he said. This is part of what ABI Research calls the "UnTelco" opportunity.
"CSPs are being threatened in a market increasingly driven by the likes of Google and Amazon with a range of products and services from AI-powered smart home voice control smart speakers to security solutions," said Tomasi said, in a statement. "But things are changing and CSPs are accelerating their strategies for the smart home.. Now is the time for CSPs to be more aggressive in tying the usage of their AI assistants to their other connected and smart home offerings."
Consumers are inundated with ads for devices like Alexa and its AI-powered interface. By leveraging a platform and mesh WiFi , service providers can own the home network if they subsequently make the right marketing, product and pricing choices, said Tomasi. Success stories include Telefonica and Aura, Orange's Djingo and SK Telecom's Nugu, along with Deutsch Telekom and Comcast, Tomasi said.
It's challenging for service providers to ditch traditional bundles, an approach that's served them well for many years, he conceded. But households won't pay for connected appliances, security solutions, telehealth offerings and other smart home deployments in the same format as bundled pay-TV, phone and Internet.
Deutsche Telekom and Comcast use the platform tactic, coupled with an ecosystem of many partners -- other service providers, Internet of Things (IoT) vendors and vertical-market application developers, among them -- riding atop their high-speed broadband infrastructures. Interestingly, DT uses a mix of fiber, VDSL and Gfast, while Comcast's network combines DOCSIS 3, D3.1 and fiber.
With the addition of vertical services including security, telehealth, aging in place and insurance, an operator's portal eventually can become the central hub for all (or at least most) of a home. It can control everything from the temperature to the garage door, from ordering groceries to calling the doctor when someone's ill to renewing a prescription and alerting the nearest family member when an elderly relative has not stuck to their regular routine.
But, warned Tomasi, service providers that force their traditional business model into the smart home mold would fail.
"CSPs should not impose their legacy fixed-line business model to the smart home. The smart home is core to the CSP's future and it is a real test to assess how far CSPs have developed their business beyond their telco heritage and how they can adapt their bundling business to market condition, experiment with innovation, and compete head-to-head with webscale players," he said.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
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