WARSAW â€” The breakthrough of the multiscreen households is the key to making people adopt very very high-speed broadband, according to researchers of iMinds â€” Ghent University, a digital research center in Flanders, Belgium that consists of 850+ researchers at five Flemish universities conducting strategic and applied research in areas such as ICT, Media and Health. â€œSince we conducted our first FTTH Domestication Insights Study in 2012, new services have emerged that require very high-speed broadband connectivity, including cloud storage services, (video) streaming applications such as Netflix, and smart living apps that are triggered by the emergence of the Internet of Things,â€ says Karel Vandenbroucke from iMinds – MICT – Ghent University. â€œBut will any of these services become the single killer-app the industry is looking for? Probably not.â€
Multiscreen Households Adopting Very High-speed Broadband
Yet, according to the researchers, the potential for residential high-speed broadband has never been more promising as its benefits (such as high upload and download speeds and low latency) are no longer reaped just by a limited number of Internet junkies, but also by millions of multiscreen households that want to simultaneously run multiple apps on a variety of devices.
â€œAccording to the latest release of the iMinds digiMeter, a yearly survey that monitors media usage and trends in the Belgian region of Flanders, 77 percent of the households in Flanders have access to at least three screens; 21 percent even have access to the five screens â€” TV, laptop, desktop, tablet and smartphone â€” that are included in the digiMeter survey. And these figures pretty much reflect what is going on in the whole of Europe,â€ Karel Vandenbroucke continues.
People Who Have not Experienced FTTH Do Not See a Need for It
Combining the digiMeter findings with the insights from a number of literature studies and the results from a FTTH living lab project in the Belgian city of Kortrijk (whereby FTTH users were studied in a real-life environment), this yearâ€™s iMinds study confirms that people who have not yet experienced FTTH do not see a need for it. Yet, once people are provided with FTTHâ€™s higher bandwidths, they are going to experiment with those, be less concerned that they might exceed their subscriptionâ€™s data limits, and interact with Internet applications in novel ways. Multiscreen households are the exponent of that trend.
â€œWe think the industry should focus less on searching the killer-app â€“ but rather exploit the opportunity of the multiscreen user, whereby services such as video streaming and time-shifted TV on a variety of devices will naturally drive bandwidth demand,â€ concludes Karel Vandenbroucke.
Demand Aggregation Maximizes RoI for Greenfield FTTH Deployments
Researchers from iMinds – IBCN – Ghent University also found that a successful fiber deployment must be preceded by aggregating user demand. Dr. ir. Marlies Van der Wee from the techno-economic broadband network research unit within iMinds explains, â€œWe investigated the various business models that are being implemented by new operators around the world. Some of them focus on deploying FTTH to all households in a specific area, without knowing in advance how this will translate in actual subscribers and revenues. Others, such as Reggefiber in the Netherlands, aggregate user demand before kicking off their deployment; they only start to deploy FTTH when they know a certain percentage of households in a given area will take up the service. Reggefiber, for instance, currently uses a 30 to 40 percent uptake number as an upfront threshold, depending on the region (as deployment cost per household depends on population density). Stimulating that uptake, however, is left to the various neighborhoods.â€
Combining a Demand Aggregation Strategy with Local Involvement
By combining a demand aggregation strategy with local involvement, Google Fiber in the US provides an excellent example of a very successful strategy to maximize RoI of a greenfield FTTH deployment.
â€œAs part of their Kansas City deployment, Google Fiber has contacted local schools, hospitals and administrations â€” providing them with a free fiber connection if they manage to bring on a sufficient amount of residential customers. This local commitment furthermore provides easy access to rights-of-way and existing infrastructure, thereby reducing deployment costs significantly (up to 30 percent). This type of demand aggregation has proven to provide them with a much better, healthier business case, as they have reached an uptake of 50 to 60 percent of households within two years of deployment,â€ concludes Marlies Van der Wee.