Last year's Broadband World Forum conversations included a lot of talk, especially from vendors, about problems with kit inside the home. This year, exchanges between vendors and operators focused on the need for frictionless, seamless and converged networks built with open source and standards-based solutions.
In 2018, many operators and vendors brought with them a shared sense of purpose of their need to end the digital divide and bring ubiquitous high-speed Internet for all to enable some of the promises of a gigabit society.
This year, the value operators can bring by resolving smart-home connectivity issues was seen as a given, with WiFi guys out in force on the show floor demonstrating a range of customer premise equipment (CPE), mesh networks and home gateways capable of delivering reliable high speed broadband around every corner of the home.
"It is not just about bringing fiber to the home, but the connectivity within the home," Nokia President Federico Guillen said at the time.
Old equipment, new harm
Indeed, poor legacy equipment -- or, perhaps, equipment consumers have picked up on the cheap from a big-box retailer, with little guidance other than price tags -- may well have an expensive, negative effect on both the home network and the subscriber's relationship with its service provider. And that is unfair, since the operator's service is damaged by something over which it has little to no control, some operators said.
Often embattled NBN Australia, for example, was quick to lay some of its perceived poor service of its network at the feet of retail service providers and poor in-home legacy equipment.
As NBN Chief Technology Officer Ray Owen told Broadband World News: "We have spent a lot of time over the last year working with our retailers to improve the customer experience from the initial end-user connection to the network. We are doing a lot of work in terms of customer education and making sure end-users check what they are doing online to make sure they choose the right plan, then they need to select the right retail provider for their needs and finally they need to connect to the network as best they can with a good quality modem that is placed in the optimal position."
In other places, using legacy technology in new and innovative way fulfills another trend seen around Broadband World Forum this year: providing broadband for the masses, not the few. Many keynoters echoed this concept.
Among them -- Chorus CEO Kate McKenzie -- who described how steady commitment from successive governments, combined with a highly competitive market helped drive the uptake of high-speed broadband in New Zealand. To keep that service affordable to many of the country's residents, 100 Mbit/s plan is less than 2% of household income, she said. Gagnaveita Reykjavikur (Reykjavik Fiber Network) uses a similar tactic, pricing its gigabit service at the same price point as its 100Mbit/s offering.
Wholesalers in the spotlight
What is interesting is many wholesalers' move to be more visible to end users. Although wholesalers do not sell to end-customers such as residential users or SMBs, these operators use their bull horns for educational purposes, executives agreed, during a panel discussion during BBWF.
Chorus, for example, gives customers a realistic comparison of available services.
Over the last six years, video demand has surged but NBN's investment in fiber, FTTC and DOCSIS 3.1 allowed the national Australian wholesaler to keep up with today's – and future – needs, CTO Ray Owen told a Broadband World Forum audience.
The NBN deployment of wholesale broadband infrastructure throughout most of the nation should propel Australia from the bottom ten to the top ten OECD countries, according to the 2018 'Connecting Australia' report.
Service provider collaboration must go beyond standards bodies, BT CTIO Howard Watson told a packed keynote session on Wednesday morning. CSPs must share results from trials and more to improve customer experience, he said.
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on Thursday, November 1 at 8 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. UK as Ronan Kelly, CTO, EMEA & APAC Regions at ADTRAN, explores the five pillars of network integrity -- a topic he discussed during his recent Broadband World Forum keynote. Register now!
Fast, reliable broadband is essential to how we live, work and play today – and the upcoming arrival of 5G will only further increase demand and reliance on fiber infrastructure. Already viewed by consumers as intolerable, delays, outages or the regular maintenance difficulties associated with operating a network will become further exacerbated when residential subscribers further rely on connected devices for day-to-day life. Just as providers deploy network automation tools to reduce operational issues, they must take similar care to manage consumer expectations when they roll out fiber or new services. This webinar features leaders who will discuss how to manage marketing and consumer expectations at every stage of the network lifecycle. Marketing professionals, c-level executives and policymakers interested in drumming up fiber envy should attend.