Singapore's StarHub in April launched Hub Troopers, which it defines as an "elite team of highly trained digital experts." Hub Troopers, Singapore's version of the Geek Squad in the US, offers premium technology services that allow the operator to become closer to its customers, sell addition services, drive revenue and ensure that their customers' digital homes are optimized for consumption of its communications services.
More broadly, this premium suite of services covers technology consulting and education, installation and configuration, integration, protection and maintenance, troubleshooting and triage in the digital home.
Over the last two years, we have seen increased interest from operators around the world, particularly in the US, in launching premium technology services as a direct response to the difficulty they face in differentiating themselves in the marketplace.
The trend is now hitting APAC. Homes are increasingly digital and connected. Singapore has recently seen 10% year-on-year growth in home networks, 26% growth in broadband subscriptions and over the past five years has had a 39% jump in triple-service (cable/broadband/phone) customers. With the upcoming next-generation broadband networks in the region (e.g. Singapore, Australia, Malaysia) the complexity of the digital home will increase, further creating inter-operability and connectivity issues for the consumers. The need for premium technology services will grow.
Why are operators interested in these premium services, which are not their core business and competency? Communications providers are in a unique situation. With new players such as Apple and Google fast entering their markets, competition has become more complex. Going forward, providers must change the game by differentiating themselves in new ways. Premium services change the customer experience by meeting customers in their digital homes and differentiating the provider based on service rather than price. They also ensure content readiness and on-selling of additional services - two strategic objectives that will drive revenue and margins as the provider begins to own the digital home.