The writing is on the wall, right? Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon, cord cutters are the new hip kids on the block. Traditional power house cable channels like ESPN in the US are laying off people by the boat load. By all accounts the traditional US Networks CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and here north of the border CBC, CTV, Global, TSN and Sportsnet are dinosaurs. Time to fold up the tent, pick up your toys and go home, right? By default, the Cable Companies, Communication Service Providers (CSP), that deliver all the services are kaput…stick a fork in ‘em.
In our digital 24 hrs news cycle the all-important click bait headlines declare the sky is falling and not only for our industry. I’m guilty of just now using a wild headline to hopefully get your attention. Everyone take a deep breath.
Is the industry going through dramatic shifts? Undeniable. During periods of disruption of long held business structures, any experienced executive and manager realizes that bubbling to the surface will be incredible opportunities as the tectonic plates of the global industry and technology shift. Traditional CSPs are network based operators, maintaining large physical HFC plants and wireless networks. That alone should get CSPs a seat at the table of the ever growing digital economy. Leveraging these network capabilities and building new internal processes and digital platforms is where true growth lies.
CSPs need to actively seek “non-traditional” skills, people, and resources to acquire and create new service capabilities all the while creating synergy with their existing business.
Leading network-operating CSPs only grew their legacy voice and data access services 2.9%, on average, in 2016, even with horizontal acquisitions. Adjacent revenue streams and new capabilities, though comprising only 20% of total revenue, were responsible for more than half of the total contribution to growth (52.7%) ~ CSPs Will Chart a New Course for Digital Transformation – Gartner
Of course there are exciting new technologies, such as 5G, Wireless Edge Computing, IoT, WTTx, DOCSIS 3.1, and more which will help transform CSPs business. Already reported is a partnership with Bell and Huawei Wireless-to-the-Home (WTTH) trials in Ontario. On the West coast Huawei and Telus have launched trials for WTTH. On the East coast Eastlink has selected Ericsson as a core network supplier for VoLTE services. Integrating new technologies has, is, and always been a constant for CSPs. The term Cable conjures the traditional TV services of the last 50 years. Most CSPs have incorporated Broadband, Voice, and Wireless into their services along the way. So, the ‘cord’ isn’t exactly cut.
The true visionary CSPs are beginning the transition from a Communication Service Provider to a Digital Service Provider (DSP). Just stop and think about that one word….Digital. From “Communication” to “Digital” Service Provider. Well, now….that’s a whole new ‘perception’ of what your business can be.
Digital Services open up a new world of possibilities. We’re not talking about your Dad’s old Cable Company anymore. Digital services can be anything from IoT platforms, media, entertainment, transactions, blockchain, digital security, cloud computing, or Big Data and everything in between. Why not?
Forward thinking DSPs will study their markets. They’ll look at compatibility with their core business and opportunities to cross-sell to existing customers. DSPs will develop partnerships with fellow ecosystem organizations to create a dynamic network of new services and customer experiences. It will be critical for DSPs to develop skill sets such as analytics and business intelligence (BI) specific to their industry.
To consolidate, DSPs will leverage their existing Networks, acquire new skill resources, and not only be the “highway” on which the global digital economy runs. DSPs can and should sit side by side with the Silicon Valley types and compete. Proactive DSPs will engage in research and innovation to truly integrate and succeed. Obviously there are many challenges ahead, but for CSPs who are willing to forge ahead into the new territory and become Digital Service Providers the landscape is wide open. So when this old “Cable” guy hears that Cable is Dead….Yup, sure. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not ready to pick up my toys and run home. There are shiny new toys on the way, don’t stick a fork in me yet.
By Doug McCluskey, PTech, Network & Broadband Specialist Missing Link Technologies Ltd.