For the past several years telecommunications providers have expressed concern about being perceived as "just a pipe" that provides no value beyond being a conduit for internet access. They have considered, created and offered value-added services that would differentiate their services, beyond mere bandwidth, to consumers and enterprise. But the bottom line is that that connectivity is increasing valuable.
Let's look at just a few recent announcements. First and perhaps most public, is the Comcast - Netflix Agreement, whereby Netflix is paying a fee to Comcast to ensure reliable delivery of their content to consumers. Given the apparently impending death of net neutrality, recent streaming quality concerns and the continued success of the Netflix series, House of Cards, Netflix struck a deal focused on last mile delivery of the content to consumers. We, the consumer, demand access and uninterrupted consumption without understanding or thinking about how that content is transmitted across internet backbone and local internet service provider (ISP) networks. Connectivity is taken for granted and we are frustrated when there are issues. Netflix struck a deal with a variety of implications, but one of which was ensuring connectivity for its consumers.
Now, consider the announcement out of Mobile World Congress last week regarding Vodafone's testing, in Germany, of live LTE Broadcast technology from Ericsson, Samsung & Qualcomm. "LTE Broadcast can stream popular content demanded by multiple subscribers to multiple devices at the same time. A more efficient use of network capacity than transferring multiple data streams separately, it puts no additional load on the network, enabling smartphone users in device-dense locations to watch TV channels in high-quality."(WSJ) As we become an increasingly mobile society, we expect connectivity to watch ANY content on our smartphones and/or tablets. Studies from industry watchers such as ComScore, Nielsen, Gartner and others consistently point to the increased consumption of content on our mobile devices. Network providers and content owners are responding to that anticipated demand in pursuing and testing services to provide the necessary connectivity.
And finally, behind the scenes, content producers are evaluating cloud services to capture, manage and distribute content. For example, post-production houses who take raw content and manipulate it into the finished product we see on screen, are using cloud based workflow solutions to ingest, render, edit, review and distribute content. The critical bottleneck is often connectivity. While the post house may contract for substantial bandwidth to ensure its receipt and upload of content. Editors and managers who must review and approve content may be in offsite locations with limited bandwidth availability. This impacts their ability to download, review and send comments or approvals. Again, bandwidth and connectivity are of paramount importance.
Let's not diminish the role of ISPs, rather let's recognize the valuable role they play as we increasingly demand access to video content in home and on our mobile devices.
What's your perspective?