The Sophisticated Broadband Consumer

By    April 4, 2014

Consumer Broadband Bill of Rights – The Home has become an Enterprise

With recent reports and discussions around “net neutrality”, I thought it would be good to insert the customer into this conversation, as they pay and receive broadband services.  We are in this industry to deliver services, and we also consume them.  So what about us?

Late last year we were checking in with some of our key WISP customers in the US, and learned of an interesting trend that personally resonated with me – they are seeing their residential customers ask for a second broadband connection to support their home offices.  These home workers didn’t want to compete with the other broadband services coming into the home that their families were using while trying to work.

There has been a growing trend towards a remote workforce working out of their homes.  Many people are trading in lengthy commutes for being more productive working remotely from home. For others, they use their home office at night and on week-ends. And in general, we’ve also become heavy consumers of data at home.

Where permissible, we are all running some type of over-the-top (OTT) service to watch television (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon on Demand, Apple TV, etc.) at home.  We are also very heavy consumers of mobile data running off our smartphones connected to home Wi-Fi.  Mobile offload to relieve cellular towers has been a major goal of operators to preserve scarce spectrum. Cisco stated in their Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013–2018, that as a percentage of total mobile data traffic from all mobile-connected devices, mobile offload increases from 45 percent (1.2 exabytes/month) to 52 percent (17.3 exabytes/month) by 2018 (Figure 14).

Lastly, the growing trend of smart devices in the home or as it’s commonly referred to now as the Internet of Things or M2M, will only further exacerbate our home bandwidth needs.

With these trends in mind, we need home broadband services that give consumers an option to purchase services that have QoS, and symmetrical traffic to allow for more upstream capacity.

The home office can be very demanding on home broadband delivery.  We need to do the following things to replicate a normal work environment:

–  VPN Services

–  Symmetrical traffic for cloud based services like Salesforce, ERP, BOX for storage, etc.

–  VoIP

–  Collaboration tools like go-to-meeting

Basic DSL and cable services got the job done a few years ago, but they are straining our productivity at home.  Consumers want a dedicated and consistent broadband connection into our home that delivers the following qualities:

–  QoS to support VoIP, video streaming and cloud based services

–  Symmetrical traffic as we are now content producers

–  Much more bandwidth period

As a broadband consumer living in one of those NFL cities, in a large tech corridor (surrounded by a Bay….maybe that’s enough of a hint), with fiber to the curb, I’m straining the available bandwidth my local service provider can deliver with their top-tier service.  I would like the upgrade option to a new class of services that gives me the quality of service for latency sensitive applications, and upstream capacity to reliably access the cloud.

For service providers having wireless broadband equipment that provides the flexibility to begin offering tiered services based on defined SLA’s for consumers is the wave of the future.

The best effort data delivery of DSL and cable services are a thing of the past.  Start giving consumers options to move up the value chain, and you might just be surprised at your adoption rate because our homes are becoming just like an enterprise.