August 18, 2016

Can Virtualization Help Improve the Cable User Experience?

Simplified on-premises devices, greater fault management and correction automation and "hands-free" technology upgrades enable MSOs to reduce truck rolls, simplify customer interactions and improve loyalty.

Cable operators that want to deliver the best possible customer experience need to be efficient and keep costs low. Unfortunately, most cable companies still have to send representatives into the field to install or repair equipment. This process can be costly and impair customer experience. Appointment delays are a common source of frustration for customers and even simple equipment corrections can end up costing customers a lot of money. Technical support services should be limited to initial installations and equipment failures, leaving other customer interactions more simple and efficient.

The benefits of virtualization for cable MSOs are vast. Virtualized customer premise equipment (vCPE), for example, shifts functionality from the set-top box itself to the cloud. By converting the set-top box from an intelligent device to an access point, MSOs can reduce home equipment costs—by as much as a 70 percent in some cases. Virtualization also shifts device management to the cloud, allowing MSOs to troubleshoot, test and otherwise regulate devices remotely, eliminating the need to for costly truck rolls.

Virtualized CPE can greatly improve the way cable companies manage new technologies and customers. By simplifying customer interactions and reducing the time it takes to deploy new features and applications, virtualization almost guarantees the opportunity to improve customer experience.

Virtualized CPE will also impact a cable operator's presence in the growing business services market. Services for small and medium-sized businesses make up a growing opportunity for most cable companies looking to expand their customer bases beyond the consumer market. Comcast recently commented that its business services unit was a significant growth driver in 2015, with revenues increasing by 20 percent compared to the previous year. Comcast has also created a new enterprise unit to focus on Fortune 1000 companies and drive growth in the small business segment by using targeted programs and focused offerings.

Netcracker believes that virtualization represents a significant technology shift that can help cable operators capitalize on business service growth. By embracing virtualization, cable companies have more opportunities to deliver a variety of enterprise-specific offerings, including cloud-based app stores, security and data center services.

During the evolutionary shift to virtualization, cable operators need to build a business case that highlights the technology's operational and performance benefits to understand the costs of shifting from the physical to virtual infrastructure. In most cases, cable companies will see a rapid return on investment through the reduction of truck rolls and longer usage cycles of upgradable on-premises hardware. These changes to the operating model for residential service delivery are the first step in laying the foundation for a new kind of business.


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