Most recently, there have been interesting announcements around wireless telecommunication providers and content delivery. Traditional cable service provider Comcast announced that it is jumping into the mix with a wireless service offering. AT&T announced that wireless unlimited data plan subscribers will receive HBO for free given the impending Time Warner acquisition, and T-Mobile has been offering discounts of up to 30% on the Sling TV live streaming service with no data usage penalty through its BingeOn plan. What does all of this mean in light of next generation Gigabit LTE and 5G deployments? Certainly increased video consumption over faster wireless networks has the potential to create headaches for subscribers and service providers alike. More importantly it begs the question, does it make sense to pay for content in the home and on a mobile device?
It’s about the millennials, dummy
It’s no secret that millennials in particular are consuming more video over wireless networks. A Cisco Systemsexecutive at a recent Competitive Carriers Association event spoke to a 2x consumption relative to 25-39 year olds with a 9x overall mobile video consumption expected by 2021. I wholeheartedly agree given carrier push to affordable unlimited data plans as a means of adding net new postpaid subscribers. These promotional programs have been effective in adding subscribers but at the expense of poor customer experiences with video buffering based on “throttling” when reaching peak usage. Live streaming services such as Sling TV, Facebook Live and YouTube Live further exacerbate the issue taxing wireless networks.
NFV and SDN matter because quality video matters
As 5G rolls out and more video is consumed, quality of service will be a paramount focus. Unless video optimization techniques are employed by the service providers, customers will switch services creating carrier “churn” that negatively impacts their profitability. All of this points to the growing importance of NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and SDN (Software-Defined Networking) deployments to enable the wireless carriers to leverage the cloud to more efficiently handle the impact of video and streaming services over their networks. The growing appetite for video consumption will certainly drive a rapid adoption of these architectures. Subsequently, wireless infrastructure providers such as Huawei and Ericsson that are demonstrating leadership positions will reap the rewards on new carrier network build-outs.
Portability and handoff experiences matter
Portability of content is fundamentally changing content consumption habits. If you have the ability to watch Game of Thrones on your smartphone or tablet and stream it to a smart TV with an unlimited data plan, doesn’t that question paying $100+ for traditional cable and WiFi service in your home? All of the recent discussions around Apple wanting to unbundle traditional cable packages much like iTunes did for music is a novel idea, but it still doesn’t address my concern about paying for redundant services. I view more video now on my iPhone 7 Plus than I do on my AT&T Uverse set top box at home with maybe the exception of a The Walking Dead mid season finale.
I just cut the cord and cancelled my home cable service, will you?