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Straight Talk Telecoms

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Communications service providers (CSPs) are transforming their networks to support digital service offerings. This transformation affects multiple network layers and components. Last week’s Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in London highlighted the extent of the transformation along with the challenges CSPs face in becoming digital media providers.

The shift from pipe provider to entertainment provider requires an agile broadband network. Currently, more than 55% of the world’s households lack broadband connections – whether wireline or wireless. Even among the 45% of households that do have broadband, millions of connections are still PSTN-based instead of IP-based, severely limiting how innovative service providers can be in their entertainment offerings. The cost of maintaining PSTN lines is continuing to increase, and several vendors are assisting operators with the physical transformation from PSTN to all-IP networking. This was evident in a number of presentations and exhibits at BBWF 2016.

Service providers have cited quality of experience (QoE) as a key competitive differentiator and a significant reason for customer churn, regardless of whether digital media is part of their service offering or OTT-based. However, they lack the tools to assess QoE and pinpoint the factors affecting QoE in real time. Becoming a digital media provider requires a focus on QoE, investment in the right network components, and ensuring, where possible, high-quality content. BBWF 2016 highlighted the importance of QoE along with measurement and network improvement solutions.

Fixing connectivity and bandwidth while improving QoE is not the only part of successfully becoming a digital media provider. Legacy software systems for billing, customer care, and network operations will not support the customer care and analytics needed for digital media offerings. Although numerous service providers already offer quad-play services, few have software applications to fully cater for the digital media customer's needs across mobile and fixed networks. VimpelCom’s $1bn investment to transform its IT infrastructure was cited at BBWF 2016 as an important step in the CSP's transition to digital media provider.

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