Up, Close and Digital

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Up, Close and Digital

Sanjay Rohatgi, Senior Vice President, Service Provider, Cisco India & SAARC

Technology is evolving at a fast pace and consumers worldwide are embracing a 'digital culture' thanks to a host of new age devices that are dramatically changing the way we interact with each other as well as how we entertain ourselves whether at home, at work or on the move. Empowered consumers of today demand rich, "connected" experiences that they can control and share.

An increased ability to access many types of multimedia content on their PCs, phones, televisions, and a host of other "smart" mobile devices, reflects the growing consumer desire to have "many services on many screens" - integrated voice, video, and data services that are available anytime, anywhere, on any device. This means consumers' preferences are shifting from a discrete service model to one of a consistent, personalized "experience" that accommodates their content preferences, access types, and chosen devices.

From an Indian Market perspective, these trends are only beginning to take shape with the recent impetus given by the Government for digitization of cable networks and introduction of new technologies like 3G. The Indian government has mandated complete digitization of the cable networks in the country by 2014 post which consumers can enjoy a host of new improved services such residential TV, HDTV, gaming, digital video recording and video on demand services. Digitization of cable networks can infact serve as the first step towards achieving the 'Connected Life' vision.

The Connected everyday
Connected at Home

The 'home' serves as a communication and entertainment 'hub' for most of us and therefore for our connected life. Digitization of cable networks will bring about the convergence of formerly disparate home services - voice, video, and data to provide a rich, viewing experience to the consumers. Integration of broadcast TV, video on demand (VoD), and telephony services will become possibleand consumers will be empowered to choose from a plethora of services but also convert these offerings into personalized experiences. For example consumers have for long been using the internet to create blogs and personal webpages with text, pictures and video. Digitized cable networks will allow them to share this content with friends, family not only through television but also through other devices such as Tablets and mobile phones. Consumers can also define video quality (standard definition or high definition), network bandwidth (turbo buttons) and much more for sharing content.

…on the Move

The mobile, nature of rich media experiences is perhaps the most interesting aspect of living a connected Life. By adding mobility to home-and-office-based services, consumers will be able to view and listen to their preferred entertainment whenever, wherever and however they wish to do so. Global consumer adoption of mobile devices and applications indicates that consumers increasingly demand the freedom of 'un-tethered' access to content while on the move. This consumer fascination for connectivity 'on the move' has spawned streaming video offerings of varied kinds besides a host of websites optimized for mobile browsing, along with online/downloadable games designed for mobile devises. This trend of migrating wired content and applications to the wireless world is expected to continue and in the near future, mobile subscribers will enjoy even greater functionality and versatility thanks to their next-generation wireless devices.

For example, consumers will be able to use their mobile phones to buy movie tickets or commuter train tickets, use vending machines and shop on the web. Location-aware and presence-based services will allow parents to find childrens' GPS location and empower businesses to send offers to interested consumers that come within close proximity to their establishment. Mobile search capabilities will enable subscribers to get directions to, concerts, theater schedules, and store locations. Like everything else, these mobile experiences will be personalized. Importantly consumers will be able to choose and define the information they want to receive and block unwanted advertisements and messages from and to their device.

…And at Work

The 'Connected Life' allows workers to be productive, responsive, and creative within or outside their traditional 'office' space. In fact, business can be conducted from any physical location by accessing mission critical applications and connecting with colleagues and partners' worldwideto share/discuss any type of information in real time using a host of collaboration tools and services.

Just like resident experiences, video is transforming the way business is done today. Applications such as Telepresence enable participants to make eye contact and speak comfortably with each other at normal voice levels without voice or video latency. All of the technology required to enable this incredible means of business communication is invisible to users and easy to initiate just like placing a phone call.

Challenges to delivering the 'Connected Life'

Digitization of cable networks is critical for delivering the 'Connected life' experience to the consumer and comes with a fair share of challenges. Huge investments in technology are required for upgrading to digital transmission and last mile cable operators across the country need to tie up with triple play service providers or Multi-Service Operators (MSOs) to enable digital two-way interactivity. Capital will be required to create better infrastructure to enable digitization although consolidation in the sector can provide scale required for attractive investments. In addition there is a need for a favorable regulatory environment - factors like having a more liberal FDI policy for cable operators, a focused plan for digitization, and a licensing framework for last mile cable operators to help the industry to grow.

Service Providers (wireline, wireless or cable) today clearly understand that a business strategy based on the delivery of only basic voice services, broadcast television or web services to consumers for a flat monthly fee is no longer compelling or competitive. To achieve sustainable growth and profitability, they need to innovate and develop new or enhanced services that generate incremental average revenue per user (ARPU) or create revenue streams by serving new customer segments. It is important for all service providers to integrate different services for delivering a connected experience to consumers. It goes without saying that each new service introduction typically includes unique regulatory and technical challenges that service providers must successfully address.

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