Much Ado About Cord Cutting

By    January 7, 2015

It’s impossible to miss the proliferation of screens in our society. Take a look around the next time you’re on public transit, at a café or on a plane: The vast majority of people you’ll see are surfing the web, tapping out an email, playing mobile games or watching Game of Thrones on tablets and smartphones. Content creators are banking on the public’s continued desire to be able to access anything, from books to movies, while mobile.  So much so, that the big trends at CES 2015 this week are 4K televisions, ultra-light notebooks and the smartphone as the centerpiece of our digital life.

As such, it was hardly surprising that Dish Network launched Sling TV, a $20/month service that allows sports fans to watch ESPN (and CNN, the Food Network and the Cartoon Network) without a cable or satellite subscription. Earlier, HBO and CBS announced that beginning this year, they will offer on-demand streaming services. They’re hedging that people who don’t currently subscribe to cable packages will spring for à-la-carte service, and that those who do have cable will want to cheer on the Warriors and catch up on Westeros whenever they are away from their televisions. DirectTV, for one, has already determined to punish HBO if either scenario occurs to the detriment of its market share. So where do either of these realities leave network operators?

Firstly, there’s no need to stress as we’ve already been streaming for ages!  Our network operators tell us the biggest single change to their networks was when Netflix began streaming video services back in 2007.  In the average home, every woman, man and child will stream a variety of services whether it be by the television, computer or tablet. (The latter device being favored by the little people for clandestine television viewing.)

Of all consumers, cord cutters constitute just a low single-digit percentage, according to a study from eMarketer. However, it certainly appears that the “big bang” of à-la-carte streaming, something consumers have been clamoring for, has finally happened. While cord cutting is hype for now, a significant increase over time is inevitable, and this is something network operators need to plan for.

Diversifying access and backhaul technologies is your best bet for future proofing your network. As one of our customers, a premier European network operator, discovered, co-mingling technologies allowed it to provide an array of services at various price points to virtually every residential and enterprise address within its geographic operating area. If consumers want à-la-carte TV then they should also be offered à-la-carte subscription options.  Network operators are familiar with customer complaints about bandwidth bottlenecks – running three live video streams simultaneously in the home might do that.  We all need to get ready for smarter use of bandwidth with allowance for traffic symmetry, and more bandwidth overall.

To find out more about how fixed wireless can complement your network infrastructure, watch this video on our customer, MHO Broadband, who operates an all-wireless network in Denver serving video and VoIP needs of its enterprise customers.