In a quad play world, wireless nets hold the key

Mike Jude/Frost & Sullivan
22 Oct 2009
00:00

Almost everyone is familiar with the term "triple play," that is, voice, video and data services offered by a single service provider. The notion originated with cable operators that found they had the capability to deliver multiple discrete services over the same cable network. This capability was quickly matched by telephone carriers that were able to provide voice and data over the same copper plant and video through partnerships with satellite service providers. Recently, some telecom carriers also started offering IPTV over the same DSL-based connections.

Now the stakes have been raised. The new bar is defined by the "quadruple play," or voice, video, data and wireless services. Adding wireless to the service bundle increases the value of the total bundled offering and provides the consumer with a single bill for all of their communications services. What many operators have forgotten, however, is that the point of service bundling is not the convenience of getting a single bill. If that were the case, consumers would be willing to pay more for bundled services. The fact that they aren't, and that service bundles are following the same price-to-cost curve as discrete services, is an indication that simple bundling is not really a high-value pursuit.

Perceived value is based on the perceived utility of the service being offered. Simple bundling and single billing do not necessarily add to utility; they simply make consumption more convenient. High-value service bundling is what's needed, and this is where service integration comes in.

Service integration, or services that are independent of the delivery network, is becoming the high-value offering for network operators. This trend is described in the new Stratecast report, Triple Play or Triple Loss: Service Packaging Forecast and Strategic Analysis. Where simple bundling provides discrete services, most of which are confined to individual networks, integrated services live across the delivery networks.

One example serves to illustrate: Mediafriends, a network service software provider, has technology that allows text messaging to appear on a wireless device, a PC and a video display. In this environment, text messaging is a highly integrated service accessible to consumers regardless of which device they may be using or which network is actually delivering the service.

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