Scan the latest marketing efforts of the top Communication Service Providers, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the only thing that businesses are competing on is speed. Theoretical bandwidth numbers are a race to the highest number, with companies like Comcast planning 10GB rollouts to attract new subscribers and beat out the competition.
How important is high bandwidth, and what should CSPs be competing on instead?
Does Service Improve Alongside Bandwidth?
To a certain extent, service reliability improves with bandwidth, but this only goes so far. When internet activities across different applications are put to the test, in a perfect world where there are no other aspects of the home service to consider, 1GB has been shown to support:
# 600 web conferences
# 3,300 audio streams
# 200 HD video streams
… all happening at the same time!
In reality, although these are situations where higher speed does matter, even a fraction of 1GB bandwidth will be enough for any home. In this reality, why would anyone choose a CSP based on their promise of 10GB bandwidth? It’s like choosing a restaurant because they offer each diner 30 burgers for the price of 10. 10 was already more than you could ever eat in one sitting.
If it Isn’t Bandwidth… What’s Really Impacting Service Reliability?
There’s hardly a connected home under the sun that you could call simple. Today’s networks cover a wide topology, and any number of things could cause service degradation, from latency and latency variation, to packet loss and issues with the WiFi or the last-mile network.
This complexity means that CSPs need to go a whole lot further than simply offering a faster connection than the neighboring vendor. They need to be able to offer reliability. The data backs this up, with 60 percent of subscribers saying they want reliability rather than speed.
Quality of Experience is Your New Competitive Edge
Reliability across the connected home is a much harder task than offering higher bandwidth. 80 percent of Americans say that a poor internet connection has stopped them from getting their work done at home, so despite the speed of home internet rising 20 percent over the past 12 months, these speeds aren’t translating to a good quality of experience (QoE). And ultimately, that’s the only thing that matters for subscribers.
Improving QoE starts with having visibility over the whole home broadband service, from server and Wide Area Network (WAN) to the last mile and the home network and WiFi itself. With this visibility to identify bottlenecks wherever they occur, CSPs can start to build an accurate picture of what is impacting QoE – which could be latency issues, resource availability, packet loss, or any number of other factors.
Alongside this network visibility, CSPs also need subscriber visibility. This is the context of how subscribers are using the web, such as if they are heavy gamers, if they work from home, if they enjoy regular movie nights, and if they use mobile phones, smart devices, connected TVs, and more.
With both of these datasets, CSPs can understand what the ideal connectivity requirements are for each home, and take personalized measures to improve QoE.
Here’s How it Works in Practice
Struggling to picture how it works? Try these three use cases to get your imagination flowing.
Alerts in Context
The WiFi channel in one of your subscriber’s homes is choked, but how do you know if it’s really a problem? Use AI to alert when WiFi link saturation is being felt by users within the home, which can then trigger band steering to move one or more devices, when necessary. This powerful root cause analysis finds the issue, solves it, and only uses technical resources when they will have an impact.
Talking about reducing the reliance on technical resources… What if you could eliminate the need for human intervention altogether, and let TSRs focus on other high-priority tasks? With the right technology and visibility, you can autonomously restart a device at the right time to force an update, or send an automated email suggesting a WiFi extender for Jim, who has given up trying to take video calls in the basement.
Customers want to feel heard, and targeted internet experience on their own terms is a powerful value-add. Think about a home where kids are often returning from school and gaming with friends before the adults’ working day is done. Allow users to prioritize the applications that will help them meet their deadlines and rock it at the office, so that service quality is channeled where it’s needed most.
Speed is Great, but it Needs to Go Hand in Hand with Reliable QoE
A bandwidth stamp is just a theoretical number that is unlikely to track against improved quality of experience. To really improve customer experience and be the go-to CSP for great internet, service providers need to be able to augment speed with reliability. This starts with visibility into the whole network, as well as a contextual understanding of subscriber behavior.
Bandwidth is just step one. When you’re ready for steps 2,3 and 4, we’re ready to talk.