Every year, I attend a number of conferences all over the world to find out more about technology trends and what’s happening in the industry. There are certain pluses to this: firstly, you gain so many frequent flyer points that people envy you (although I no longer know if this is envy or pity — it depends on who you talk to), and secondly, the airlines like you. They really, really like you. On the flipside, it’s not always so good for your personal life. After racking up 80,000 miles this year already, and attending about six conferences, I can identify three themes that keep popping up.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. User Experience (UX):
This theme is everywhere. It’s no longer enough to just deliver technology — you need to show how it can be deployed and how people can use it. The focus is on making sure that the user gets the most out of your technology and won’t have to keep calling the support center to figure out how to use it. We have seen some incredible projects, such as Horizon from Liberty Global, ZON’s new interface, and several initiatives from Comcast. It’s becoming increasingly clear that customers want more than just features — they want to know what you can do to make their life easier.
Given the proliferation of mobile gadgets available today, cable operators are now facing the inevitable question — how do you address the needs of wireless customers? One answer is to build a comprehensive WiFi network. Operators now are deploying strand-mounted access points and using dual SSIDs in the home to offer private and public WiFi. Another emerging trend is the ability to use small cells to build backhaul services for larger wireless operators. Cable has a history of fast and reliable network deployment and it makes sense to create new revenue by providing these operators with a deep-reaching network.
3. DOCSIS 3.1:
On the technology side, there’s been a strong focus on the next version of DOCSIS. Although the standard has not yet been ratified, vendors, standard bodies, and operators are all on the same side and see DOCSIS 3.1 as the technology necessary to respond to wireline competition and speed promises. Stay tuned to see what happens next with this technology.
While these are the topics that resonate the most in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC, other themes such as OTT, TR-069, licensing, and many others also continue to come up in discussions and panels. I’ll touch on these at a later date, but I’d like to know — what industry topics do you see gathering momentum this year? Email me at email@example.com to share your perspective.