Director of Studies, IDATE DigiWorld
The connected object market today shows a real complementarity between the major players in terms of their current positionings, aligned with their core business.
In the longer term, however, IDATE DigiWorld anticipates that competition will grow in ferocity, around the platforms and services which are set to be the next source of revenues.
The automotive market
Around the connected car business, is key for Internet giants and telcos. Competition today is, in the main, on the platform side as both telcos and Internet giants are aiming to position themselves here today. Indeed, it is the platform that is the cornerstone of the next connected car strategy. Looking further ahead, the main competitors will most likely be OTT service providers, as they will offer services by exploiting the data generated by sensors in the vehicle – Uber-like companies are one example. Some industry incumbents are already engaged in the battle: earlier in 2016, GM invested half a billion USD in Lyft, the main competitor to Uber. The major involved players are AT&T and Verizon on the side of the telcos and Google (and Apple to a lesser extent) for Internet players.
The wellness market
This market is very recent. Telcos are absent from its value chain, with the exception of very limited volumes of cellular objects. They only focus on the distribution side, where the reselling business can grab them a sale commission on wearable objects, linked to smartphones. OTT Internet players are eying this promising consumer market for the opportunities it will offer in the near future to manipulate and monetise masses of personal data.
The healthcare market :
A specific market for a long time, its very promising market has been in the growing numbers of potential ‘clients’ as their age increases. The key objectives of healthcare applications are to optimise the treatment of disease and to save costs for national healthcare services. Even though solutions will be provided in partnership with experts, both telcos and Internet players will be push platforms and services.
The smart home market
It will be the arena for immense competition in the next few years. It is considered as a growth area for fixed telcos which are already facing competition from cablecos. On the side of the OTT Internet player, smart home applications are seen as a complementary way to follow their consumers/audience, even though they have different approaches. Competition – again, it will be heavy – will on the platform and services side as all players will be wanting to manage the data.
Today, the industrial Internet market is considered as an extension of the Industrial M2M business for telcos. The Internet giants are notable by their absence, even though some could provide cloud-based tool: Google, and Amazon with its specific IoT AWS offering, are prime examples. Analogous with traditional online services, the main threat for telcos is that they yet again become the pipe, and only the pipe. They have, however, anticipated the connectivity commodity trend by offering data platform solutions and related services. The ARPU from connectivity is very limited and the telcos expect only a small share of connected devices will be equipped with a SIM card. Before services, telcos have backed their core business, by setting their eyes on LPWA technologies (SIGFOX or LoRa) or collaborating on LPWA-like cellular ones such as the NB-IoT ahead. They are also backing the next 5G technologies, which aim to empower various verticals, including healthcare, manufacturing, smart cities and the automotive. It will be a tough battle, given that Internet giants are global by definition. Moreover, compared with traditional Web services, the main difference is that Internet giants manufacture their own objects, providing almost an end-to-end solution of product, platform and services on top. Faced with this kind of solution, traditional players in the industry will also suffer from the invasive nature of the OTT Internet players and their fierce competition.
Find out more information on "Telco's Connected Objects Strategies" in our dedicated market report
Year after year, the economic and financial power of the GAFA quartet of Internet platforms continues to increase. Which brings two questions back to the fore, again and again: what trends might emerge to counter this seemingly inexorable rise? And do we need regulations that apply specifically to platforms?
A quick reminder of what economists mean by platform economics (digital or not): multi-sided markets (i.e. involving interactions between two or more parties) with reciprocal “network effects”. So the more iPhones that Apple sells, for instance, the more attractive its app store becomes to developers (and so to users), and vice-versa. In digital sectors, this characteristic is typically combined with a reduction in fixed costs (software), generating increasing returns as the platform becomes more successful.
Network effects usually go hand in hand with another property: asymmetrical prices. If Apple is starting to earn substantial income from the App Store, its business model and profits are rooted chiefly in the high price of its iPhones. With ad-funded models, one side of the market operates as a free service. As we have seen with Apple, digital platforms are a very efficient means of fostering open innovation, and capitalising on innovations from third parties. All of these aspects, which go some way to explaining why “winner takes all” when it comes to platforms, naturally need to rely on the ability to maintain the role of intermediary, and continue to become more proficient at it. Otherwise, the platform’s customers and suppliers will begin to adopt multiple homes, before eventually moving on to another, better platform. The efficiency of the leading platforms is the very reason for the current ambivalence over how much they are serving the greater good. On the one hand are concerns that a dominant OS will abuse its position while, on the other, this popularity can also mean an opportunity for developers, and can have positive repercussions for consumers.
The dichotomy needs to be resolved by taking account of the Internet’s dynamics as a whole. Windows has been through a number of anti-trust investigations but, today, this is the mobile Internet which has moved down the priority.
Worth reading on this topic is the recent IDATE report on "The future of the Internet: 2025". It takes a detailed look at the key technologies for the coming years, and especially at how development scenarios will be shaped by key variables, such as the openness of the Internet ecosystems, or the impact of restrictive privacy or security-related public policies. Here, we will add two other events that take us beyond a GAFA-centric environment. First, 2014 saw a number of Internet powerhouses emerge from the shadows of the GAFA quartet: in China (Alibaba, Weibo…) and in Asia’s leading markets in general (Rakuten, Line…).
We cannot entirely discount the possibility of these players gradually coming to compete head on with their Western peers. Second, we need to consider the position held by new players moving into vertical markets, many of which have carved out a place of sector-specific intermediary – Uber and Airbnb being two prime examples – and which have no intention of being taken over by Google or Apple or the like.
Nevertheless, faced with the realisation that GAFA continue to become increasingly powerful, the inefficiency of antitrust laws and the regulatory asymmetries compared to those imposed on other players along the chain, the idea of regulation that applies specifically to platforms is gradually coming to the fore. It may not be a good idea. Competition law, even ex post, is not necessarily ineffectual.
Plus it will be no simple matter to define the contours of the platform sector. And extending existing sector-specific laws, such as those that apply to electronic communications, to make OTT companies and telcos subject to the same principles, would take us down a path where, as businesses become more and more digitised, every economic sector would be more or less governed by electronic communications laws. Keeping in mind that the upcoming review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications is expected to focus on network access conditions and interconnection – and probably put more emphasis on symmetrical regulation. Should voice and SMS products not be removed from the scope of the telecom sector’s ex ante regulation, rather than adding in competing OTT products such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.?
It nonetheless remains that in sensitive areas for digital industry players, such as those governing contract law, taxation, public safety and privacy, we can very easily identify laws that should apply across the board, such as what we find in consumer products and the retail industry. Without having to produce laws that are specific to platforms, the current juncture could provide an opportunity to merge national legal provisions with regional (EU) and global ones, and to ensure that they apply equally to all players along the value chain
For the publication of the last study about "the future Internet in 2025" and the 15th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook, IDATE is organizing a conference on the perspectives and key trends that will structure the digital economy for the next decade, DigiWorld Future
More informations about IDATE's expertise and events :
IoT : The Internet of Things
Connected objects were everywhere and IoT is now becoming the Internet of everything.
Connected cars attracted a lot of attention with connected vehicles on most of equipment manufacturers’ and MNOs’ booths.
Renault’s CEO made a keynote where he presented the timetable for assisted driving. According to Mr. Carlos Ghosn, despite their numerous initiatives and some acquisition rumours, Internet giants are not rivals to car manufacturers but allies, as they consider electric cars and they help car makers to promote electric cars.
Ford had even its own booth presenting the electric vehicles (both passenger and entreprise cars) with dedicated solutions. In the meantime, Vodafone presented a Porsche Panamera model equipped with its new Telematics solution since the Cobra acquisition.
Smart is also getting traction in the IoT space. In the “innovation city” hall (space dedicated to the connected objects), through the AT&T offering (Digital life) where the home could control through the smartphone and even through the connected car (equipped with an AT&T SIM card). When approaching the home, the car can trigger the opening of gate by itself for instance (pre-programmed distance).
While 5G is already in the tracks, very low throughput network technologies are also under the spotlights. After the recent release of its 100 MEUR fundraising campaign among telecom operators, Sigfox was also on everyone’s lips at the MWC. Among the main new shareholders, Telefonica confirmed its strategic investment and its willingness to integrate the technology into its portfolio to address additional verticals and applications.
The GMA (Global M2M Association) also announced a strategic collaboration with Gemalto and Ericsson to provide a Multi-Domestic Service based on a single SIM (using the eUICC technology) helping global enterprises (chiefly from the automotive and consumer electronics segments) capitalize on the growth of connected devices.
Growing market but still key challenges though
During his keynote, if AT&T Wireless CEO predicted that the smart phone will be the remote control of everything in the next few years, he also pointed out the key challenges to address in order to make the IoT market grow significantly:
• Privacy concerns
• Effortless (ease of use)
Data about devices and their users is generated in real-time, often by default and without the user being aware or having choice (especially for free apps). There is a need for a different approach to giving users transparency, choice and control over their data and privacy.
Generally user has a single choice : accept or not using the service, there should be gradual approach (like sharing some id attributes but not all of them).
Privacy could be a competitive stick for service providers, as users are becoming more aware of privacy.
Facebook in emerging countries
• Airtel: “Operators and Facebook are like the beauty and the beast, but the beast (facebook) is becoming more human nowadays”. Airtel was reluctant to introduce Facebook because of VoIP threat. Is looking at it like the “boiling milk”.
• Millicom, Telenor: have seen ARPU rise thanks to facebook launching, very promising for them.
• Wikipedia has the same approach of “Wikipedia zero”, dealing with operator to provide data access for free.
More informations about IDATE's expertise and events :
Nouveau cycle de conférences de prospective numérique sur les enjeux de l’Internet, de la télévision et des télécoms à 2025
A l’occasion de la sortie de la nouvelle édition de son DigiWorld Yearbook, l’IDATE présente son nouveau cycle de conférences de prospective numérique sur les enjeux de l’Internet, de la télévision et des télécoms à 2025 !
A partir des analyses des experts de l’IDATE, les débats seront animés par Marjorie Paillon, Journaliste, Tech 24, Philippe Escande, Rédacteur en Chef, Le Monde et Gilles Babinet, avec les contributions exceptionnelles de :
Telecom: Heavyweight manoeuvring in France and in Europe
So Vivendi chose to enter into exclusive talks with cable company Numericable’s main shareholder for the sale of SFR, France’s second largest mobile operator and number three ISP. The deal which, straight away, would reduce Vivendi’s stake in the new operator to 32% and guarantee its future full withdrawal. This option was chosen over the one offered by Bouygues Telecom, France’s third largest mobile operator and fourth largest ISP, which would have resulted in the creation of the country’s largest mobile operator, with close to 50% of customers. Bouygues Telecom had even anticipated the French competition authority’s qualms about the merger by agreeing to sell off its network of 15,000 towers to France’s fourth MNO, Free, which serves 12% of the country’s mobile users.
It is possible that Vivendi was looking for the quickest exit from SFR. Both SFR and Bouygues Telecom have been members of the IDATE programme for a number of years, and we had no part in the negotiations. So we will keep ourselves from further comment.
But three general remarks are worth making:
• The “telecoms war” that has been going on in France for the past several weeks is not a game of Monopoly, or some form of industrial Meccano. At the very least, it is emblematic of a broader economic crisis in the sector. And, unfortunately, this situation – which includes a massive drop in revenue that is weighing heavily on margins, debt rates (debt to EBITDA ratio) and investing capacity – has hit all of Europe’s main markets.
According to IDATE, telecom services revenue in Europe’s five biggest markets has shrunk by 12% in five years. If France has been the focus of market analysts’ attention over the past few days, we have been waiting on the DG Competition decision over the sale of O2 to Hutchison Whampoa in Ireland, and especially over the deal that would allow Telefónica to take control of a merged O2 and E-Plus (KPN) in Germany, Europe’s largest market.
• Market consolidation, which appears inevitable, could take several forms. Given anti-trust authorities’ reluctance to see fewer players competing in the marketplace, it may take the form of infrastructure sharing schemes. These deals have existed for mobile systems in certain countries for years now, and their numbers could grow considerably. Among other things, they allow telcos to reduce their CapEx and OpEx, but do not eliminate any rivals. So in a price war situation, they make a decrease in ARPU more tolerable, rather than stabilising or helping increase margins.
In Europe, then, consolidation tends to focus on putting an end to market configurations of four network operators (in favour of three MNOs plus MVNOs) that have emerged from public authorities’ award of some 20 additional licences since 3G-UMTS launched in Europe – even if a great many of these operators have since closed up shop. The negotiations between Vivendi/SFR and Numericable nevertheless illustrate a different kind of consolidation: fixed-mobile. The impetus behind this consolidation lies both in the potential of quadruple play bundles and the growing overlap of wireline and wireless systems, with the advent of small cells and ultra high-speed mobile.
Not long ago, we saw Europe’s top mobile operator, Vodafone, acquire Cable & Wireless and spend more than 7 billion EUR for Kabel Deutschland. This deal, along with Liberty’s recent takeover of Virgin Media and Ziggo, helped drive up the price of cable assets, which Altice and Numericable were able to capitalise on – as will no doubt Ono in Spain not far down the road. If there appears to be no lack of support from the banks for these mergers, the money may not be so free flowing for a third type of consolidation, namely cross-border deals inside the European Union. Synergies there are less overt, and national consolidation appears to be a mandatory prelude to financial markets supporting offensive strategies that result in the creation of truly pan-European operators. The danger is that, by delaying national consolidations, European consolidation could fall into the hands of outside players.
• And, finally, do we need to choose between operators’ financial health and consumer interests? It seems a bit of a caricature. There no doubt needs to be some assurance that rebuilding margins does not result in unreasonable price hikes and collusion. But this seems unlikely. First, because regulatory authorities in Europe are both well entrenched and experienced. Second, because technical progress in this industry is such that margins which enable cost-effective investments, and a steady rate of equipment renewal are the basic conditions of lower unit prices and improved quality.
Head of "Video Distribution" Practice
The market report entitled, “Hybrid TV: challenges and opportunities for telcos and cablecos” published as part of IDATE’s video distribution series, explores the biggest changes that wireline operators are facing today, and the options available to them. It details the three main strategic options that operators will need to choose from: strengthen their video service provision business, charge for OTT traffic or focus on internet connectivity.
Project Manager Jacques Bajon says that, “how telcos’ and cablos’ video strategy evolves is becoming an increasingly important issue, as the growth of OTT video and its impact on internet traffic will change the balance of power for video distribution on wired networks”.
Verizon recently announced its upcoming takeover of Intel’s Media Assets, a division devoted to developing cloud OTT video products and services, as part of the carrier’s bid to step up the rollout of new generation video services for all devices.
While the impact of these changes will vary depending on the region, the state of competition, the influence of the market leaders and the strategies adopted by operators, broad policies and choices are nevertheless becoming clear. Operators will be able to choose their positioning from, increasingly hybrid, strategies.
Strengthening the role of video service provider
Many telcos have joined cable operators in a providing 'traditional TV' services. The underlying reasons are varied and often non-exclusive, and include improved ARPU, triple-play subscriptions and reduced churn. This strategy can be extended, allowing operators to:
• provide new OTT services,
• become a publisher of TV services,
• go beyond their technical network coverage by relying on broadcast partner networks or 'public Internet'.
Charging for OTT video traffi
With the net neutrality debate still hanging over this option, where discrimination is being tolerated only for operators’ OTT services targeting their customer base:
• The first grey area agreements have been made between some service providers generating large volumes of traffic and telcos
• Development of operator or telco CDNs can help with internet traffic optimisation and can also become a traffic quality solution for third-party service providers.
Relying on online connectivity
With this option, operators can rely primarily on internet subscription revenues by assuming the role of neutral distributor of IP services, including video. For telcos, this is a case of returning to their incumbent business, but is a change of role for cable operators.
• More information on Hybrid TV market insight : Challenges and opportunities for telcos and cable operators
Published in COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES No. 92, 4th Quarter 2013
Joint Interview between Gilles FONTAINE, IDATE and Eli NOAM, Columbia Business School
Summary of this issue: "Video cord-cutting" refers to the process of switching from traditional cable, IPTV, or a satellite video subscription to video services accessed through a broadband connection, so called over-the-top (OTT) video. The impact of cord cutting will probably differ among countries, depending on the level of roll-out of digital cable, fibre optic networks, and/or IPTV, on the tariffs of legacy video services, on the quality of broadband access and on national players’ strategies.
Regulation will play a key role in this new environment, as a strict enforcement of net neutrality could prevent network operators from leveraging their access to customer base to market their own video services.
Joint interview with
Gilles FONTAINE, IDATE,
Eli NOAM, Columbia Business School
New York, USA
C&S: How would you define cord-cutting, from a US or European perspective?
Gilles FONTAINE: Cord-cutting, in Europe, is seen mainly as a USA phenomenon, where consumers would trade-off their pay-TV subscription for over-the-top Internet services. The last years, in Europe, have rather seen the rise of powerful cable and IMPTV operators competing in the pay-TV market with legacy satellite packager.
Eli NOAM: Cord-cutting is the dropping, by consumers, of expensive cable TV subscriptions in favor of online access to TV programs and on-demand films. Drawbacks for consumers are less certain quality (bandwidth), less availability of live programming such as sports, and absence of some channels. Advantages are cost-saving, no need to pay for undesired channels, better search, less advertising, greater choice, more control. In a broader sense, cord-cutting is a transition of TV from a broadcast/cable push model to an individualized pull model. So this is not just about switching to yet another delivery platform. That's the easy part. It is much more fundamental. Looking ahead, one change will be that by going online, TV will move from a slow-moving, highly standardized technology controlled by broadcasters and consumer electronic firms to a system where multiple technical approaches compete with each other and propel video delivery into an internet-rate of change and innovation. And that's just the technology. Equally important changes will take place on the content level, and in the structure of the media industry, in the advertising and business models, and in the policy.
Do you see any evidence that cord-cutting is really happening?
Gilles FONTAINE: Cord-cutting, in Europe, is not happening, or is not happening yet. Several reasons account for this: on the one hand competition is intense in Europe between networks, and is driving Internet access and television prices down, therefore limiting the incentive to "cut the cord". On the other hand, Internet services are far from having the same level of offer as US ones, even if catch-up television is increasingly available throughout Europe. Also, the video-on-demand market is very fragmented, with still limited catalogues and interfaces that could be improved and subscription video on demand is nascent, and mostly pushed by US-bases players, even if some European players have launched first services. Finally, the penetration of connected TVs and connected set-top-boxes is probably also lower in Europe than in the USA.
Eli NOAM: In the short run, there is less cord-cutting than media reports and hype suggest. For a variety of reasons, almost all participants in the media industry have an interest in dramatizing the issue. Broadcasters are making investments in ‘second screen' distribution, partly to be prepared for change, and need to justify them. ISPs are expanding bandwidth to position themselves as providers of mass entertainment options. Telecom companies, similarly, need to upgrade their networks. New providers of bypass service to broadcast and cable, such as Aereo in the US, create buzz to their market-disruptive activities. Media cloud providers such as Amazon or Netflix present new options. And even cable TV operators, who are the ones negatively affected, have an interest in presenting the problem as a crisis, at least to policy makers, in order to gain regulatory relief.
The reality is more modest, at least in the short term, but not insignificant. According to a credible analyst, Craig Moffett, The "pay TV sector" – cable, DBS, and IPTV – lost 316,000 subscribers in a 12 month period mid-2012- mid-2013. Since IPTV has gained subscribers, cable losses must have been larger. That is a loss of about 0.3%. Another estimate for 2012 has the number at 1.08 million. In a 4-year period 2008-2011, anywhere between 3.65 and 4.75 million subscribers were lost. But that was in the midst of the Great Recession, and thus not all can be attributed to cord-cutting.
Do OTT services really challenge telcos and cablecos managed TV and video offers?
Gilles FONTAINE: Many studies seem to show that OTT services propose a better customer experience than the equivalent launched by the telcos or the cablecos. OTT services are Internet natives, customer friendly companies, with a rhythm of innovation that is difficult to compete with. Telcos and cablecos still concentrate on the "linear television model", even if they have developed their own on-demand offers, whereas OTT services specialize in on-demand services. But telcos and cablecos still benefit from a privileged access to the TV set through their TV set-top-box, a competitive advantage which is about to be undermined by low cost solutions to connect the TV set, such as Chromecast from Google.
Eli NOAM: Overall, the extent of video streaming has been quite large. In the evening hours, about two-thirds of internet traffic are video-bits. Netflix alone has added 630,000 streaming subscribers in the US in 3 months in 2013, to a total of 30 million. Thus, while the numbers of cord cutters is not huge yet, as mentioned, a steady loss of subscriptions is to be expected, and it is backed up by surveys in which cable subscribers grumble about staying with expensive subscriptions which they do not fully utilize. This is particularly true for the younger generation. 34% of the Millenials (cohorts born 1980-2000) say that they watch mainly online video and not broadcast TV. For Gen X and for Boomers the numbers drop to 20% and 10%.
With OTT available, the traditional business model of cable companies unravels. In the past, they were able to raise prices and to pass on the raises by channel providers. This becomes more difficult. Similarly, it becomes more difficult to offer only bundled channels ("prix fixe"). Similarly, the ability of channel providers to offer content to viewers directly reduces their bargaining strength considerably. If they want to keep up, they also need to develop expertise in online technology, social networking, and mobile communications.
UK cableco Virgin Media and Sweden cableco recently signed a distribution agreement with Netflix. Do you foresee any revision of the cablecos and telcos triple-play model?
Gilles FONTAINE: Building an IPTV service is not straightforward for a telco: network costs can be high to ensure a homogeneous quality of service. They also face high programming costs and the complexity of negotiating with the media world. On-demand services hardly prove to be profitable, because of the market power of Hollywood studios combined with the strong competition between telcos and cablecos, has for instance led to almost unrecoupable minimal fees to access programs. The situation can be similar for a cableco that would not have the resources to acquire exclusive, attractive content: the recent deal between Virgin Media or Com Hem and Netflix heralds a change of strategy for the smaller telcos and clablecos, which could favor to comfort their Internet access business by offering the best OTT services rather than pushing their own television packages.
Eli NOAM: Overcoming all of these challenges is possible but requires an acceleration of internal processes, major investments, and a willingness to give up some control. There are signs of change in that direction. Comcast, which has just paid $ 39 billion for NBC Universal, thus gaining vertical control from the camera lense to the eyeball, has now announced a trial of a cord-cutting offer to subscribers: if they take a Comcast broadband service (of a quality that is today an upgrade for most customers) they get at basically no additional charge HBO Go (HBO's archive of self-produced shows plus current other shows, available anywhere in the US from most devices), plus the free broadcast channels. The regular monthly price $ 70/ month, compared to a price of $ 135 for a full complement of 200 channels including HBO Go. So the viewer willing to skip regular cable channels saves a lot of money. The data cap for such a service is 300 Gigabytes. This is about 120 hours of HD viewing per month, which is adequate for single viewer but tight for a multi-device, multi-viewer household.
So this shows that cable companies are considering to embrace cord-cutting as an inevitablity. Another development in that direction is the US cable industry's considering to integrate Netflix into its operations. They are holding talks with Netflix to make Netflix an option on their set-top boxes. In such a scenario, Netflix would, in effect, become cable companies' major VOD provider and revenues would be shared. This, together with the cable MSO's own cord-cutting option, would in effect accelerate cord-cutting. However, cable companies would not be entirely bypassed. They would mitigate cord-cutting into channel cutting. Ultimately, cable companies' main asset is their transmission network. Its exploitation will undergo transformation.
TV channels also face another form of cord-cutting, as viewers may directly choose their on-demand programs. How do you see their future role, if any?
Gilles FONTAINE: TV channels, as aggregators, may lose their specific role if on-demand consumption develops significantly. However, they will evolve proposing more and more live events to continue gathering strong audiences at the same time. Moreover, there is still a need of arranging the on-demand catalogues, pushing the right content to the right viewer at the right time and on the right device. TV channels should be able to leverage their linear programming to play their aggregator role in an on-demand market. But they will need to heavily invest in IT and review their trade-off between linear and on-demand distribution.
Eli NOAM: TV channels gain and lose. They gain in bargaining power over cable and other distributors. They can deal directly with users, though more likely they will go through new types of intermediaries such as Apple and Amazon.com. In a profusion of content offerings, strong brands are a valuable way for users to search for content. And if they can identify users or user characteristics they can fine-tune and individualize advertising. The danger for channel providers is that the loss of cable MSOs hold over viewers means that they cannot share in the MSOs pricing power. Furthermore, content providers can disintermediate them by going directly to viewers. Sports leagues, for example, could deliver their events directly and cut out the networks. Most of the channels do not have major operational IT expertise, and this provides an opening for an entire industry of new service providers and video clouds.
Gilles FONTAINE's Biography
Gilles FONTAINE is IDATE's Deputy CEO and is also in charge of IDATE Business Unit dedicated to media and digital content. During its 20 years experience in the Media sector, Gilles Fontaine has become an expert of the media economics and of the impact of Internet on content. He directed numerous studies for both public and private clients, including the EC, governments and local authorities, telcos and TV channels. Recent assignments have included a participation in the future MEDIA programme ex-ante assessment, the analysis of new video internet services economics, a long term forecast project on the future of television. He has also monitored the impact of digitization and online distribution on other media, radio, press and music. Mr. Fontaine holds a degree from the highly reputed French business school, HEC (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, 1983) and from the Institut MultiMédias (1984).
Eli NOAM's Biography
Eli NOAM has been Professor of Economics and Finance at the Columbia Business School since 1976. In 1990, after having served for three years as Commissioner with the New York State Public Service Commission, he returned to Columbia. Noam is the Director of CITI. He also served on the White House's President's IT Advisory Council. Besides the over 400 articles in economics, legal, communications, and other journals that Professor Noam has written on subjects such as communications, information, public choice, public finance, and general regulation, he has also authored, edited, and co-edited 28 books. Noam has served on the editorial boards of Columbia University Press as well as of a dozen academic journals, and on corporate and non-profit boards. He was a regular columnist on the new economy for the Financial Times online. He is a member of the Council for Foreign Relations. He received AB, AM, Ph.D. (Economics) and JD degrees, all from Harvard. He was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Munich (2006) and the University of Marseilles (2008).
Published in COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES No. 92, 4th Quarter 2013
- For more information about our activities: www.comstrat.org
COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES
Lead Analyst, IDATE
Opportunities for Telcos around VoD, SVOD and Telco CDN
IDATE delivers its analyses and conclusions on OTT Video in its recently published market report. Our experts spotlighted the different opportunities for telcos and examined the drivers and hurdles for video delivery over-the-top.
Synthesis of selected player strategies
Source: IDATE, market report "OTT Video", December 2013
Consumer OTT video already represented an impressive worldwide market of almost 7.4 billion EUR in 2012, with revenues well-balanced between advertising and paid videos (pay-per-view or subscriptions). Nevertheless, VoD still generates more revenue on managed services, captured mostly by telcos and cablecos, at around 60% of total VoD sales in 2012. On-demand paid services over managed services represents for VoD and SVoD together around 45% of these service sales on both managed and OTT services. Video is therefore also a key market for telcos, and not just a traffic issue with significant impacts on telcos networks.
Video is indeed clearly gaining traction. It now represents a large part of Internet traffic and requires even more investment with no direct revenues, at least for those telcos offering unlimited flat rate plans -- the extra consumption of bandwidth is obviously charged in metered plans. This video traffic is nonetheless indirectly paid by broadband access. With the explosion of traffic, however, it is becoming harder for telcos to cover costs. Thanks to the abundance of free content, online video is indeed a mainstream service on the Web, as is search or social networking. It is typically still focused on short YouTube-like formats but with a growing consumption of free premium programming, specifically TV series from both legal services (catch-up TV), and low-cost paid solutions, as with SVoD from Netflix. The general strategy of content providers for both ad-funded and paid services is to differentiate their offering from others. To achieve this goal, they are adopting both quantitative (larger catalogue) and qualitative approaches by acquiring exclusive content through, for example, sports and partnerships with studios.
The delivery strategy of the content providers really depends on the video traffic delivered and therefore on the size of their own architecture for the largest content providers (Google/YouTube and Netflix overall) and more and more third-party CDN solutions for intermediate players. Some players, premium and ad-based platforms and especially those trying to better monetise their content, are looking at multi-CDN approaches to increase QoS as well as to benefit from price competition. Others are waiting for the deployment of telco CDN for better QoS.
The major operators are also involved in the TV/video delivery on their own account but, increasingly, also for third parties. Video has been part of triple-play solutions from most telcos for about 10 years, first with linear TV (delivered through multicast) and then video-on-demand solutions. It is even the prime business for cablecos – they have also generally been considered as telcos since their triple-play developments. Non-linear service strategies depend on the ISP, ranging from total control of distribution with rights acquisition, billing, and packaging to pure pipe solution with costs savings and total externalisation. All the major operators, essentially the incumbent operators, have implemented telco CDN solutions.
Telcos still have real opportunities around paid content in leveraging managed services, i.e. a combination including the customer base, the network with QoS, the billing service and set-top boxes, which remains necessary for now for mass market access to the TV set. The retail option (i.e. reseller or packager) has clearly more potential, as the world market for on-demand video will be close to 6.2 billion EUR in 2017 on managed networks (mainly telcos/cablecos) or 44% of the total video market. The big challenge remains the capacity of telcos to develop further the SVoD market (which may grab some market shares from the VoD market) for which they are only capturing 25% of revenues. For telcos not ready to invest into managed services (network and CPE costs), telco CDN still represents an option, especially as it can be developed in combination with transparent caching, allowing a similar efficient result without deals with content providers but also without the revenues. The short-term opportunity is rather small, even though telco CDN can also be used for managed services. In the long-term, i.e. by 2020, with heavy traffic from mobile, the opportunities will be even greater (telco CDN could benefit from mobile to reach about 15% of the market by 2020, at more than
2 billion EUR).
Read more: Discover OTT Video Market insight contents
Consultant at IDATE
How big data can get new revenue
and reduce costs?
and reduce costs?
Telcos are now in a position to use their data assets to generate value. Through big data techniques, ‘data services’ can generate new revenue or can help telcos to enhance their internal processes and core businesses, as stated previously. Not all data services are efficient for telco businesses, each service having varying efficiency.
Potential benefits of big data applications for telcos in terms of new revenues and potential savings, based on telco revenues and costs in 2012
Source: IDATE, market report "Big Data for Telcos", publication date Dec. 2013
N.B.: APIs are not included in this table as they are not a real big data application but an enabler for customers.
Internal purpose services
Internal purpose services aim at improving internal operations as well as enhancing customer relationships and products. Most of them use internal data (customer anonymised data or network data) with processing done internally: personal data protection is therefore as important as it is for external purposes and there are no questions of business model or competition. These services are thus easier to roll out and implement than external purpose services (with operations outside the company).
Optimisation of network and real-time DPI
The main benefit of the optimisation of network platforms and real-time DPI is material and financial. Such a service can lead to rationalisation and optimisation of current network infrastructures in the short term, and a more efficient use of the equipment in the long term.
On the financial side, a small reduction in capex by just a few percentage points can be generated immediately thanks to optimisation. It will especially lead to a shift of capex in the long term as investments will be made later. However, a few percent of capex is actually significant for a telco as it can represent several million euros each year. The ROI for optimisation systems can be, however, be significant.
Improvement of products
Big data techniques to improve products are aimed at increasing customer satisfaction (indirectly reducing churn) and attracting new customers. The main consequence of such benefits can be increased turnover due to new customers or a reduced churn rate.
A small increase of ARPU can also be expected in the short term as new products can attract existing customers and generate additional sales. These new products can also provide a competitive advantage to the telco in the short term.
CRM and Sales
The main goal of data services related to CRM and sales improvement is to generate new sales, and especially up-selling and cross-selling. It can increase revenues moderately, in the long term.
In addition, these services can bring a better knowledge of customers and can therefore increase customer satisfaction to a decent degree, reducing churn indirectly and maintaining revenues in the long term. The subscriber acquisition costs (SAC) can also be reduced in the long term as these techniques improve the customer acquisition process.
In addition to previous data services helping to reduce churn, specific churn prevention techniques using data exist. Churn is, in any case, an important for telcos in a very competitive environment. Churn reduction leads to revenue stability and can avoid massive migration of customers in the case of new attractive plans from competitors.
These new tools can thus lead to a reduction of subscriber retention costs (SRC) in the long term, but with an increase in the short term to implement the churn prevention platform.
Fraud detection is an important stake for telcos as fraud represents an important cost. Systems to detect fraud are therefore crucial for telcos and are a profitable investment in the long term. Fraud detection can thus lead to sensible reduction of fraud cost and losses.
External purpose services
Services provided by telcos to third parties can generate new revenue from data sold to these parties, or through services based on internal data analysis.
Contrary to internal purpose services, external services have to be analysed in their competitive environment and in their specific market. Each service has multiple ‘external’ constraints, more or less important, depending on the market and the environment.
The market for ‘insight’ services is relatively new, having started at the end of 2012. It is thus small and telcos can have a strong position as they own geolocation data from their mobile subscribers. If only a few telcos currently provide such services, others could join the market in the years ahead. Large OTT players would also be able to provide insights with their own data, but their data seems to be less accurate.
Improvements from new techniques such as real-time analysis (currently available) can bring value to insights but a lot of technical and privacy issues remain. Partnerships with other telcos seem to be not essential as a telco can, for instance, define the number of individuals on an area extrapolating the number of subscribers in this area. However, a partnership with other such players as pure players from the survey market could bring value to such services.
However, the growth potential of this market remains limited as potential customers seem to be limited as well. Such services are not well known at this time, and telcos should communicate more about their benefits, to attract more customers.
The audience measurement market is not a new one, as some players have been active in the TV audience measurement segment for a long time, followed by Internet website audiences and, to a lesser extent, in mobile application audiences. Telcos have introduced this market to measure mobile audience (for both applications and Websites), as they have a closer presence of mobile devices.
On the mobile segment, OTT players cannot really compete with telcos. The major OTT players on this market are Nielsen and comScore. Thus, to invest in other market segments, and especially those related to the Web, telcos should make partnerships with such players as they both have value to add in a common service.
In the end, the potential growth of this market is significant as the mobile measurement market segment should grow over time, with growing mobile uses.
Raw data sales
This market is still small as few initiatives exist at present. It is mainly composed of partnerships between telcos and other players interested in telco data and especially on very location-specific data.
Such a service is therefore based a discussion between the customer and the telco to define the kind of raw data to provide, and how to exchange it. The process is not automated. An automated system would consist in providing APIs sending the same data for all customers, or insight services with the same result of analysis for all customers.
In terms of competition, telcos are not the only players to provide such data as OTTs can provide it too. However, both face privacy issues as consumers are increasingly afraid of sharing their personal data with third parties.
The advertising market is very large and generates important revenue. Its growth is also very important as advertising is the core of many business models. Competition is very high.
In this environment, telcos can push specific strengths allowing them to get a competitive advantage, namely the data they can use to provide efficient targeted advertising.
However, the share of telcos on the mobile advertising market remains low – IDATE estimates this share at about 8% of the mobile ad market. Partnerships with other telcos or other players would be interesting in order to obtain a larger share of the cake and to reach another target.
The recommendations market is still small and mainly held by such OTT players as Facebook and Google. Their advantage is in providing service through their environment: a social network or even an operating system gathering data on customer habits.
Telcos also have strengths in providing recommendations: location data as well as other declarative data can be used here. This may, though, not be enough to compete with OTT players with their multiple diffusion channels for their recommendations. Recommendations would be thus of limited value for telcos.
The API market is quite specific as it does not generate substantial revenue and is heavily segmented. In addition, APIs cannot be really considered as big data applications. They are mentioned here as an important tool for telcos to share internal data.
The only API currently generating revenue is carrier billing as telcos get a share of the transaction amount. This market is thus very small in value, yet significant in the volume of data exchanged.
In terms of competition, APIs provide specific data that depend on each provider. Carrier-billing APIs are proper to telcos. User profiles are usually provided by social networks, but can be also be provided by telcos, as with Orange. In this specific market segment, telcos compete directly with some large OTT players, but only in terms of the kind of data and not in terms of potential revenue.
Alliances of telcos can bring practical benefits in order to reach a larger share of population worldwide, and in order for developers to develop API connections with only a few players (and not with each telco).
Conclusions on big data services for telcos
Of these big data services, some help to reduce costs whereas others can generate new revenues directly or indirectly. They do not, though, provide the same ‘potential’ benefits in that the final benefits may differ between implementations. The figure below provides an overview of the potential benefits of each service or application in terms of new revenues and savings. These figures are estimations of the potential impact for the global retail telecom market, for a full year. It gives an overview of the benefits of each kind of application.
More information on Big data for Telcos
IDATE delivers its analyses and conclusions on Big Data in its recently published market report "Big Data for Telcos". Our experts spotlighted the different opportunities for telcos and examined the drivers and hurdles of a massive use of Big Data.