Network operators have learned that services targeting plain "Internet access" as their goal have little chance of earning a durable return on infrastructure investment.
Not surprisingly, network operators want to play a role in content delivery that goes beyond simply carrying the bits, which are quickly becoming a commodity in terms of price.
There are several views about the role that operators could play and considerable variation in their approaches to content strategy.
At the high level, network operators can monetize content by offering one or more of the following options along with their existing services portfolio:
1. Retail content portal. Arrange for content through relationships with producers; host and deliver it to consumers subject to some kind of commercial relationship (pay-per-view) or sponsorship (advertising).
2. Content host. Rely on other companies to obtain content for distribution, fulfill retail relationships or both. The notion of the network operator as a provider of a content delivery network (CDN) is an aspect of this monetization strategy.
3. Critical adjunct services for content delivery. These could include, among others, identity management, digital rights management, content transcoding, location-based services, content policy management and parental control.
4. Premium paths for content delivery to consumers. Offering expedited delivery or special Quality of Service (QoS) to content as an extra-cost option, paid either by consumers or content providers.