The end of 2014 always brings on new planning cycles for technology companies, and you try to align your plans with where you think the market will be next year. Some might think that this is gazing into your crystal ball, but this is tech, so of course it had to be a silicon ball and not a crystal ball that reveals the tech future ;-) So what do we think will drive 2015 for broadband networks around the world? I can’t reveal all of our plans, but some of the investments that Procera made a year or so ago after gazing into our ball have already started to come to fruition, and fit exactly with where we think a lot of attention will be focused in 2015.
Location, Location, Location: Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages about who has the best mobile network – The “Can you hear me now” ad campaign sticks in my mind as the most memorable. Every mobile operator insists that they have the best network – some claim coverage, some claim speed, some claim reliability. At the end of the day, an operator has to deliver a good service to their subscribers wherever they are. The solutions that help them understand where their subscribers are, how their device is experiencing their mobile network, and how the applications and content that the subscriber is consuming are performing will determine the overall subscriber experience. And the companies that deliver the best end-to-end experience (including billing!) will win the consumer war. And nothing impacts that experience more than where you are, and this will be the centerpiece for operators that win the war – understanding how to deliver the best experience wherever their subscribers go.
Virtualize Me in Real-Time: Operators want to reduce costs and increase flexibility. Part of meeting the location challenge is being able to re-allocate resources efficiently to handle spikes in network activity, manage whatever bandwidth is available, or even recognize new trends and offer bundles that meet subscribers pricing demands. If it takes months (or even years!) to recognize these trends and deploy solutions, the operator is sunk. NFV can allow an operator to react in minutes or hours, and keep your subscribers happy. It also revolutionizes the business model for CAPEX and OPEX, as proprietary hardware purchases can be reduced (not eliminated) in favor of NFV reference platforms. It also means that incumbent vendors do not have hardware lock-in, which encourages innovation and makes it easier for an operator to change solution providers. NFV is a technology that will have a huge impact on operators of all types in 2015. Some operators will go all in and deploy NFV extensively; some will use it to solve specific problems in small corners of their networks. Those that do harness NFV will gain a significant advantage over non-NFV operators, and we fully expect to have several operators announce major NFV deployments in 2015.
IOT Me: The Internet of Things has a lot of definitions, but to us it means that a user will have many devices or applications that are connected to the Internet. In practical terms, it means that operators will see more devices on their network, and the “background noise” that exists on their networks will continue to grow. Background noise is the constant checking and updating of a subscribers status to some type of cloud service – whether that is Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, fitness tracker uploads, Apple Pay or Google Wallet transactions. It is clear that the number of active sessions on all networks in increasing, and this is causing many operators to plan their growth around user sessions, and not always just raw traffic volumes. As more devices become directly and indirectly connected to the Internet (in LTE equipped cars, Wi-Fi hotspots that auto-connect, or through Bluetooth to a mobile device, the load on these networks will increase. Operators must ensure that they can offer attractive plans to power users that are always connected, and evolve pricing to acknowledge that the average user’s bandwidth consumption will continue to grow in 2015 due to the explosion of smart watches, fitness trackers, and mobile pay offerings.
Video Killed the Broadcast Star: Much like the first video on MTV (for those that are not up on music video trivia, that is “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles), Streaming Video is slowly killing the broadcast TV star. Netflix and Hulu have proven to be a viable alternative and encouraged users to cut the cord. Even HBO is now planning to offer streaming-only services. Amazon(Fire Stick and Fire TV), Apple TV, the Roku stick and Google Chromecast offer solutions that start at ~$39USD, and can receive many different streaming feeds from the Internet or your computer. Broadband operators are fearful of streaming video because of the load generated (and we are not even talking 4K video yet), but at the same time want users to buy higher bandwidth packages that they only need IF they want to stream video. Video will continue to grow as a percentage of overall bandwidth, and an operator that can’t deliver a good experience for streaming video will quickly be minimized in the market.
There are a lot of other interesting trends we see developing in 2015 (Stay tuned for future announcements and blogs!), but these are some of the biggest ones we see. Do you have any you want to share?
Topics: Expert Insights