August 28, 2018

How Cable Providers Can Combat the Threat of Displacement by 5G Now

With 5G promising faster and more robust service delivery, cable providers need to make some changes now so they can better compete later.

We all know that one of cable’s biggest draws for consumers is the bundle of high-speed data and video. It’s a single source for HD—or now 4K—content that can be delivered to televisions or mobile devices over Wi-Fi. It’s the set-top box that records 250+ hours of content and allows you to skip commercials. But that one big draw is now officially threatened by something other than people simply cutting the cord.

In mature markets, a paradigm shift in service delivery can enable quick and dramatic market changes—and it looks like that may happen soon. Take Verizon in the U.S. for example. With ongoing investments in 5G networks, the company wants its high-bandwidth network to expand services beyond the B2B space and into B2C. It can do that by offering free TV services to its customers.

Recently, Verizon announced that it will start selling 5G services later this year, although the ability to extract the performance of 5G networks won’t be available until the next wave of mobile devices becomes available. It will, however, be able to offer home-based broadband services and, ultimately, video services which put the company on the same footing as cable/satellite providers. Based on early reports, Verizon plans to partner with Apple and Google, offering Apple or YouTube TV services for free as part of a connectivity bundle. While there is no need for expensive fiber, there will be a need to ensure connectivity within the dwelling, as 5G spectrum is in a band that struggles to penetrate walls and ceilings. Thus, the implementation will require a femtocell-type approach to establish consistent service. Those issues aside, it’s time for cable companies to take note of this now.

These large-scale, 5G, double-play voice/video service rollouts are still a few years away, giving cable providers time to react. Cable providers must start thinking about how to deliver innovation today via technologies and services. With retention becoming a critical factor in fending off outside influencers, it’s important to start thinking about solutions that can help strengthen customer loyalty.

Ensure Flexible Pricing Models

Because most customers pay for large-scale packages of channels and on-demand services, being able to react in real time to competitive price offerings is now more important than ever. This requires an integrated product catalog that centralizes all options, enables the ability to offer unique service options, and has the ability to create custom pricing and discounts for loyal customers, particularly when an issue or problem raises the concerns of churn.

Deliver Impactful Customer Journeys

As cable customers go through their individual service alignment processes, the cable provider collects vast amounts of data on the user profiles, spending habits, contact preferences, payment methods, etc. Creating a centralized process to guide customers along the most appropriate path of their individual service lifecycle helps ensure a much more positive user experience.

Invest in Proactive Customer Care and Intelligent Cross-Sell/Upsell Capabilities

There aren’t many things worse than suffering a service outage or receiving a call from a customer service representative (CSR) who offers a service that you already have. At the customer care level, ensuring CSRs have a 360-degree view of customers from their agent desktop will help mitigate misguided customer interactions. Meanwhile, network and data analytics can help identify service delivery anomalies that can then be either addressed in advance or tied to a more proactive notification process with the customer.

As the promise of 5G becomes a reality, time may still be on the side of the cable provider…but not for long. With current residential broadband download speeds topping out at 1-2 gigabits a second, 5G’s promise of speeds faster than that will likely come later in the cycle. And while 5G services overcome the barriers to implementation, delivery and experience, now is the time for the cable providers to innovate. Delivering on the promise of service creativity, customer experience and greater service value will be the greatest contributors to customer inertia.


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