Predictions 2012: Debate shifts to creating demand for fibre

Time for retail service providers to make strategic decisions about Ultra Fast Broadband, says Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe

Content is back on the agenda as retail service providers look to provide services on the Ultra Fast Broadband network, writes Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe in the following opinion piece looking at the year ahead.

By the time we get back from the break, the industry will have had a chance to catch its breath and start to adjust to the new landscape brought about by the Chorus demerger and roll out of UFB. In particular, retail service providers will start to make the strategic decisions that will determine how they will operate in the new world.

The debate will shift to how New Zealanders make the most of their new fibre network. What services will be available? How do we stimulate demand? And what content or applications will deliver real productivity gains? I expect retail service providers will put a lot of work into identifying and understanding the target market for fibre based service and this will guide a lot of product development over the next year.

The opening up of Chorus’s existing fibre network in all the major cities in New Zealand together with the deployment of Crown-funded fibre means that for the first time all retail service providers have access to fibre to provide services to the business market. Enterprise and business customers will have the opportunity to be early adopters of fibre from a range of service providers.

2012 will be a year of service trials as companies find the offering that works best for their customers; Chorus will continue to work with customers on fibre deployment – making sure the roll out and the installation to the home makes the choice to migrate to fibre an easy one, and RSPs will try out new IP voice services and service bundles that combine communications and entertainment. I think the industry will also test the boundaries of where telecommunications services stops and IT begins. Content will be firmly back on the agenda. I expect a lot of debate about content rights and the ability to deliver competing on demand services to homes.

But all this activity will be against the backdrop of global economic challenges, declining revenues, shrinking margins and the need for increasing investment. This will mean the industry will focus on cost management and returns and a more cautious approach as each retail service provider watches who might make the first move.

The telecommunications industry has been a fast changing, exciting place over recent years. I do think this coming one is going to blow it all out of the water.

* This fortnight Computerworld is featuring a series of opinion pieces by leading ICT professionals in which they look at what's in store for 2012. Tomorrow: Gen-i CEO Chris Quin and Jade managing director Craig Richardson.

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