The connected home is a critical source of revenue for operators

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Content Lead for Broadband World Forum reflects on the growing opportunity for operators and service providers in the connected home market.

New research from Ovum* recently indicated that the consumer market will remain by far the largest source of revenue for network operators ($1.14 trillion by 2023) and while Broadband will account for 72% of this revenue at $800 billion, growth will slow as markets mature. But revenue from digital services is expected to see significant growth.

Indeed, new market analysis reveals how how critical the connected home market is becoming – revenue from digital services such as TV, digital media and the smart home is set to reach $735 billion by 2023*

At this critical time, Broadband World Forum provides the connectivity community with a powerful space in which to learn, network and collaborate. Taking place from 15-17 October in Amsterdam, the event is supported by leading figures from the telco industry including BT, KPN, T-Mobile, NBN Australia, VEON, Altice Portugal and Hyperoptic among others. Senior representatives from leading regulatory bodies such as Ofcom, Anacom and BEREC will take to the stage alongside enterprise heavyweights such as BBC, Disney and Uber.

And, this year, this year BBWF will host a dedicated connected home track which will feature discussions with key operators such as BT, Liberty Global and Comcast, as well as innovative vendors and start-ups. Preceded by a Day 1 workshop on the same topic hosted by revered industry group, Broadband Forum and with keynotes from automotive leaders Renault and Uber, the importance of the connected home and connected industries for telco innovation is right at the heart of BBWF this year.

Julie Kunstler, Principal Analyst at Ovum, specialising in wireline/fixed broadband access, said: “While bandwidth demand is not slowing down among consumers, businesses, and cities, operators are adopting innovative strategies to become the winners in end-to-end applications and services. “Beyond the pipe” is permeating smart home, smart business, and smart city strategies. BBWF is the key conference and exhibition for learning about innovative operators and the ecosystem supporting this major transformation.” Julie will be chairing the keynotes at BBWF on 16th October.

Paul Palmer, Director of Business Development at F-Secure said, “Homes are becoming more reliant on their broadband connection every day, as the attacks against IoT devices grow both in number and intensity. Service providers can prepare for the future by securing the devices and appliances people rely upon most—driving increased loyalty from our customers. At BBWF, the industry’s leaders can turn vulnerabilities into opportunities.

In addition to thought leading content the event hosts a large exhibition which includes the Broadband Forum interop pavilion, two free content theatres hosting a start-up showcase and pitch off, as well as the full broadband ecosystem with key players including Nokia, Huawei, ADTRAN, Intel bringing their latest network tech and demos, as well as emerging start-ups looking to establish themselves in the industry.

BBWF attracts 4000+ attendees each year and 2019 is set to be bigger and better than ever, attracting attendees from 95 countries and every point in the broadband value chain.

Sandra Motley, President of Nokia’s Fixed Networks Business Group, said: “The Broadband World Forum is a premier event that gives operators from around the world access to the latest innovations they need for their network evolution journey. We’re excited to once again be a part of this influential event and look forward to sharing how innovations like intent-based automation can revolutionize the future of broadband access.”

*Ovum Smart Home Services Forecast Report 2018-2023

 

Want to be in Amsterdam with us? For free access to the exhibition hall, networking areas and 2 free content theatres, register for your visitor ticket here.  For full access to the 200+ speaker line up, 4 conference tracks and keynotes, you can book a delegate pass here.

Reflecting on 20 Years of Wi-Fi

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Content Lead for Broadband World Forum reflects on the past, present and future of Wi-Fi.

It’s been twenty years since Wireless Fidelity was invented and first released for consumers by the IEEE committee 802.11. In the decades since it is no understatement to say that the WLAN technology has revolutionised how individuals and society connect and operate.

Now, Wi-Fi is considered so essential to our daily life that it is viewed as a utility. It is the first thing that we ask for when visiting a friend’s house, and we even demand access when out in public. It is no question that connectivity will be further boosted by the imminent introduction of Wi-Fi 6, the latest iteration of the international standard which is designed to ease the limitations on the network inherent in IEEE 802.11ac by, among other things, connecting to multiple devices at a time.

But, how did we get to this point? Reflecting on it briefly, the history of Wi-Fi looks something like the below:

BBWF graphic

But what about the future? Where will this transformative technology head next? As we explore in our latest report, 802.11ax is Wi-Fi’s logical evolution. Unlike previous Wi-Fi standards this new version isn’t focused on purely boosting headline speeds but prioritises to manage the connectivity strain caused by the ever-increasing number of connected IoT devices and smart home gadgets.

One example is a computer powering an 8K resolution VR headset in the same room, wirelessly; something that will undoubtedly transform the gaming experience for individuals across the globe.

Then there’s the influence of the likes of 5G and artificial intelligence on Wi-Fi; it is clear that Wi-Fi will be integral to the fixed and mobile broadband experiences going forward. Indeed, Wi-Fi will increasingly be used for off-loading and even for backhaul, in the case of WiGig.

 

To discover the future of Wi-Fi, download our new report for free by clicking here.

 Want to stay ahead in the broadband industry? Discover the latest technology trends and solutions from leaders in the broadband universe with a free visitor ticket to Broadband World Forum (October 15-17, Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Your ticket gives you access to 25+ hours of content delivered by leading speakers, 150+ technology providers from Tier 1’s to start-ups in our expo hall and endless networking opportunities with the 4,100+ leaders in attendance. Click here to claim your free ticket.

How can operators avoid becoming a dumb pipe?

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Content Lead for Broadband World Forum, explores how increased connectivity is changing the role of operators, and how telcos can stake their claim in order to avoid becoming a mere dumb pipe.

In the era of hyper-connectivity, society stands on the cusp of change. We have evolved from the basic internet connections introduced two decades ago and are now edging towards real-time mobile connectivity with 4G and the convergence of the physical and digital that is being driven by the fifth-generation mobile network and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

However, with increasing complexity comes an increasing demand for bandwidth, speed and efficiency.

Network operators and the ecosystem partners that supply and work with them are the epicentre of these evolutions. They are uniquely placed to serve almost every industry and every vertical as everyone looks to innovate how they connect and how they communicate.

But the telco reality is that they are tasked with simply providing an ever-increasing bandwidth capacity simply to support these advancements – rather than being pivotal in helping to drive them forward. Thus, the question remains, how can operators leverage the emerging opportunities that increased connectivity providers in order to avoid becoming a mere ‘dumb pipe’.

The answer is different in each industry, as we briefly examine below:

Automotive

According to Ericsson’s VP of Global Sales Connected Vehicles, Jueraen Daunis, “Only 5G has the necessary capacity to make truly self-driving cars a reality from a connectivity standpoint.” It’s a pretty bold statement; one that solidifies quite how dependent the automotive industry is on operators and the wider telco ecosystem.

It is the fusion of IoT, 5G and AI that will transform the auto industry into a digital services business and thus, to stake their claim in this space, telcos are advised to partner with established digital players such as Microsoft and Google as they build their operating systems into the 250 million connected cars due on the road by next year (Gartner), as well as start-ups in the automotive space.

Malaysian operator Altel Communications, for example, allied with Chinese firm ECarX to develop car connectivity tech services for Malay car brand Proton. Industry leaders Uber and Renault will be further examining the role of connectivity and telecommunications in the automotive industry at Broadband World Forum 2019.

Cloud Gaming

Intel predicts that AR and VR entertainment will deliver cumulative revenues of $140bn between 2021

and 2028. Immersive applications that don’t even exist today could generate $67bn a year by 2028 –and the key technology underpinning this trajectory is 5G. Synched with this is the need for

edge computing; both of which will provide the speeds necessary for these next-generation gaming experiences.

Matthieu Duperre, Founder of Edgegap, summarised the position of telcos in this industry pretty succinctly when he said: “In the early 2000s, operators lost the battle against the OTT. They kind of stopped bringing value, or lost track of where they were bringing value. So, then they became the dump pipe that we’ve all heard of. What’s happening now is a unique opportunity for them to regain value and that control over the pipe and to move away from the dump pipe mentality; they own the network and the last critical mile. Betting on that last mile, and on creating an infrastructure that can’t be done by the likes of Google or Amazon, is going to be key to their success”

Smart Home

With OTT streamed content eating into their traditional pay TV subscriber revenues, and competition in broadband access intensifying, service providers need to tap new revenue streams. With established and credible consumer relationships on their side and a router into the heart of the home, network operators are well placed to exploit the opportunities related to broader management of home connectivity.

Whilst wary of being the fall guy for everything from streaming video glitches to cybersecurity, operators can leverage their position as the first point of call and take ownership of the whole home network.

“The solution is to have very effective and robust guidelines,” explains Bruno Tomas, Director of Programme Management at the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “These guidelines will effectively ask customers to commit to only using equipment provided by their telco –or their recognised partners”

Telefónica, for instance, has integrated its AI-powered digital assistant Aura with Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana. In Spain, Aura is built into Movistar Home, which Telefónica aims to become home hub for user management of all connected devices.

 

Broadband World Forum’s latest report – Staking Telco’s Place in a Connected World – dives deeper into the role of operators in each of the above industries as well as numerous others. To download this report for free, simply click here. Want to stay ahead in the broadband industry? Discover the latest technology trends and solutions from leaders in the broadband universe with a free visitor ticket to Broadband World Forum (October 15-17, Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Your ticket gives you access to 25+ hours of content delivered by leading speakers, 150+ technology providers from Tier 1’s to startups in our expo hall and endless networking opportunities with the 4,100+ leaders in attendance. Click here to claim your free ticket.

AI plays critical role in network security, according to BT boffin

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to play a critical role in network security in the coming years and is already helping BT defend its infrastructure.

Ben Azvine, the Global Head of Security Research & Innovation at BT, has been at the heart of cutting-edge network security developments at BT for several years and has helped develop a cybersecurity strategy that combines AI-enabled visualization of cybersecurity threats with highly-trained network security personnel. He shared some of his thoughts on the matter with attendees at this week’s Broadband World Forum event.

“We are taking AI and making it help humans to be better… We are more about the Iron Man version of AI than the Terminator version,” he said, sparking ludicrous cinematic pitch ideas in the minds of some of his audience (I mean, Alien vs Predator sort of worked, right?).

Azvine pointed out that with the number of connected devices growing rapidly, old ways of securing assets were no longer relevant: Now, companies (including network operators) need to think about having a cybersecurity strategy comprising three steps – prevention, detection/prediction and response. The response needs to be much quicker than in the past (hours, not days) while the detection/prediction is tough to do without sophisticated analytics and AI algorithms.

What BT is doing is a great example of analytics and AI in action in the communications networking sector, rather than AI as a marketing hype machine — see ‘Why BT’s Security Chief Is Attacking His Own Network’ for more details.

But security is just one of seven key telecom AI use cases, as identified in a recent report, Artificial Intelligence for Telecommunications Applications, from research house Tractica (a sister company to Telecoms.com).

That report identified the seven main use cases as:

1) Network operations monitoring and management

2) Predictive maintenance

3) Fraud mitigation

4) Cybersecurity

5) Customer service and marketing virtual digital assistants (or ‘bots’)

6) Intelligent CRM systems

7) Customer Experience Management.

“The low hanging fruit seems to be chat bots to augment call center workers,” said Heavy Reading Senior Analyst James Crawshaw, who will be one of the expert moderators digging deeper into the use of AI tools by telcos during Light Reading’s upcoming ‘Software-Defined Operations & the Autonomous Network’ event.

“The more challenging stuff is making use of machine learning in network management. That’s still a science project for most operators — Verizon’s Matt Tegerdine was pretty frank about that in his recent interview with Light Reading. (See Verizon: Vendor AI Not Ready for Prime Time).

That analysis from the Verizon executive shows it’s still early days for the application of machine learning in production communications networks. And, as Crawshaw noted, AI is not a magic wand and can’t be applied to anything and everything. “It can be applied to the same things you would apply other branches of mathematics to, such as statistics. But it’s only worth using if it brings some advantage over simpler techniques. You need to have clean data and a clear question you are seeking to answer — you can’t just invoke machine learning to magically making everything good,” adds the analyst, bringing a Harry Potter element to the proceedings.

So what should network operators be ding to take advantage of AI capabilities? BT appears to have set a good example by hiring experts, investing in R&D, applying AI tools in a very focused way (on its cybersecurity processes) and combining the resulting processes with human intelligence and know-how.   “You don’t need to recruit an army of data scientists to take advantage of machine learning,” said Crawshaw. “Nor should you remain totally reliant on third parties. Develop a core team of experts and then get business analysts to leverage their expertise into the wider organisation.”

BBWF 2018: Open data is the key to nailing smart cities

In an entertaining session at Broadband World Forum, a common theme emerged; open data, which is a key component of any successful smart city programme.

The format was an interesting one. Four smart cities were given seven minutes to explain their proposition, and then three minutes to answer questions. Featured were Milan, Athens, Helsinki and Amsterdam, though thanks to your correspondent getting lost on the show floor, the Amsterdam pitch was missed and will not get the attention it deserves. That said, the common theme throughout was open data.

Starting in Milan, data is being used to create a hub of intrigue for start-ups. There isn’t necessarily a focus on segment or vertical, more a top-line ambition to create jobs and value for the economy. As part of the initiative, more than 300 data sets have been made available for citizens and businesses to create new applications and services. Looking at the numbers, the scheme should be deemed a success.

There are currently 1600 start-ups based in the city, out of the total of roughly 8000 across the whole of Italy. 10,000 people are directly employed (or own) start-ups, 80% of which survive the first two years of operation, the most dangerous time for any business. These are certainly promising numbers.

In Helsinki the message is the same. The Mayor has an ambition to create the world’s ‘most functional city’ through digital, with tourism a key factor. Part of this story is opening data up to the community and local businesses to create value.

Finally, over in Athens, open data has been used in a different way. Thanks to financial difficulties in Greece, governments are not trusted. This makes it incredibly difficult to launch new schemes, though by opening up data to the general public and businesses, Konstantinos Champidis, the Chief Digital Officer for Athens, said the team are regaining credibility. The aim here is not only to try and help those citizens create something new, but develop a culture of transparency to regain the trust.

Trust is a key element in these smart cities strategies, as while open data does fuel innovation, the data has to be sourced in the first place. Should citizens not be open to having information about them or their activities collecting and analysed, the whole concept of the data economy runs dry.

We’re sure the presentation from the city of Amsterdam was equally as interesting as the three we saw, but the theme was plainly clear here; open data is a critical component of the smart cities mix.