While the smart home market may not have exploded quite as strongly as some analysts expected, it's fair to say the area is one of the most exciting and dynamic markets across the tech and telco spectrum.
Some analysts still predict the segment will grow to $121.73 billion by 2022 from $46.97 billion in 2015 at a compound annual growth rate of 14.07% between 2016 and 2022.
Not only have we seen thousands of devices and exciting new services come to market for consumers and business alike, but we also have begun to see the direction the market may take over the next few years. This is an exciting time for all smart home players, but for telcos this is particularly worthy of note. Telcos are arguably best positioned to take advantage of this burgeoning market, and most importantly in ways that develop and expand their influence.
But let us step back a little. Traditionally the guardians of fixed-line copper, telcos' ownership of -- or ability to lease -- vast bandwidth of fiber positioned them well for the advent of mobile; now, a decade later, they face a new threat. The commoditization of these products, the growth of MVNOs and fixed-line counterparts mean that simple provision of data services is under increasing pressure, as white-hot competition squeezes margins. However, history has given telcos an almost complete toolkit to provide the very best smart home services.
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Telcos are under increasing pressure in consumer homes, from technology brands as diverse as Google, Amazon and Apple. Telcos must actively exploit the opportunity around controlling the home, otherwise over-the-top (OTT) manufacturers and service providers could potentially disintermediate them, and they will fail to capture a fair share of the value. However, telcos retain a number of valuable advantages.
Telcos own customer relationships and are trusted providers for connectivity in the homes and for services; their billing systems are perfectly capable of extremely granular billing, and across a range of services at that. Moreover, telcos are used to the retail environment, defining a product, refining a unit sales price (USP) and delivering that call to action to diverse groups of consumers, whether via billboards, TV, cable, print or pure digital.
Vitally, telcos are well equipped with engineer networks, corresponding management tools, service call centers, and the staff to run them. In pure logistical terms alone, these assets represent a massive competitive advantage over the Kickstarter-era startups, some that only have exciting ideas and a nice set of renders.
Perhaps most crucially, telcos have considerable experience of data management. Data -- and competent leveraging of it -- will be the mark of the most successful connected home players. You cannot overstate the importance of being able to aggregate third-party data and segment it in new and powerful ways, although there are significant pitfalls along the way. Consumer trust is not so easily earned, and if lost even the best technical implementations and biggest brands can fail -- robust and transparent data policies are essential for the entire industry, both now and in the future, so new models can flourish.
A variety of exciting partnerships are signposting the way to future prosperity. Interesting examples of bundling come from European telecom operators that have introduced services that give users control over security, energy and comfort. These offerings neatly leverage the telcos' consumer position of strength in their country, and the white label platform and ecosystem from Deutsche Telekom. One telco bundled security services from a third-party supplier.
Plugged In to IoT
Deutsche Telekom educates consumers and partners on the many ways in which connected homes enhance security, quality of life, health and more. (Source: Deutsche Telekom Connected Home)
Slovak Telekom , the biggest telco in Slovakia, recently launched a consumer offering with an initial focus on protection and monitoring, energy conservation and home automation. It combines the open standards-based Deutsche Telekom Qivicon platform, the new Qivicon Home Base, the white label app and compatible devices from various manufacturers -- a flexible package that emphasizes that one size does not fit all.
While telcos are well positioned to succeed in the smart home market and moreover, to develop an even more diverse provision of products and services, the time for action is now. Telcos must act soon to avoid becoming commoditized and disintermediated in this new market. Competition is fierce. The prize, however, is considerable.
— Thomas Rockmann is responsible for all aspects of the Connected Home business at Deutsche Telekom and has been instrumental in growing the business and delivering the white label solution with partners across Europe.
Community IoT connects homeowners in building blocks or gated communities with property managers and external services, increasing satisfaction and creating new service opportunities, writes Deutsche Telekom's Thomas Rockmann.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.