13Feb Rep. Webber attends annual State of the State Address Categories: Webber News,Webber Photos PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Mike Webber welcomed Dr. Jim Lentini, Oakland University Provost, as his guest on the House floor for the annual State of the State address.
Phlipp HummWhile fixed-mobile convergence in the form of bundling is a reality in most European countries, “true convergence” has yet to emerge will only happen if enabled by a favourable regulatory regime, according to Philipp Humm, Vodafone’s CEO for Europe.“So far convergence has been driven by discounts and the herd effect,” said Humm, delivering a keynote at Cable Congress in Brussels this morning. “The higher the discounts the more customers will choose a converged product.”While take-up had accelerated in countries like Spain and Portugal, where incumbents and alternative providers had engaged in intense price competition, in countries where discounts were low only a small proportion of customers were converged, said Humm.Humm said that mobile players like Vodafone had bought fixed assets to avoid being squeezed out by incumbents. However, while convergence had been a defensive move initally, but it was now a strategic priority and “the right choice for our customers”. He said that “convergence is our future and one that we are committed to”.Humm said that consumers will come to understand that they can consume content everywhere as content and software move to the cloud and TVs become computers, while 4G becomes ubiquitous. In the UK, he pointed out that 4G customers currently use 2GB of data but Netflix 4G customers use four to five GB.“Once you are in the cloud you will never return to device storage,” said Humm. Operators will migrate to all-IP networks and Vodafone is already doing this, he said, while virtualisation of mobile networks is already happening.True convergence will happen when content and software is in the cloud, said Humm.“The beauty of true convergence is that it is super-sticky,” said Humm. “Let’s hope that on the way we don’t destroy value as the incumbents in Spain and Portugal have done already.”Humm said that “intelligent regulation” was nevertheless required, enabling in-market consolidation and facilitating cross-market consolidation. There should be non-discriminatory access to NGNA broadband outside existing operators’ footprints, he said.Humm said that the EC seems to be more supportive towards consolidation now, but operators like Vodafone hope to see action to match the talk.He also said that public subsidies had to take into account of the nature of infrastructure investment.“We see ourselves as an infrastructure based player. You need to create a level playing field. The way subsidies work is you are kind of subsidising the incumbent. Operators can upgrade their existing infrastructure to VDSL, which is cheaper than investing in the ground. If we invest we need to invest from scratch,” said Humm.Humm said operators need access to premium content. He said operators had to convince content rights owners to give up monetising every distribution channel individual and “monetise customers instead”. He said they should “never stand in the way of what customers want”. He said he also looked to regulation to prevent exclusive content tie-ups that would not benefit consumers.“We don’t want to buy rights; we want to distribute content. But if others buy exclusive rights, we will need to buy exclusive rights,” he said.Humm said Vodafone had 10 million TV customers currently. Fixed networks account for 15% of revenues. He said Vodafone wanted to “get Europe back to growth” and fixed would be “a major factor in turning our European business around”. Humm said Vodafone could not have “one solution for all markets” but would move in this direction over time. At the same time it is investing in Project Spring for the upgrade of its mobile networks.Taking questions after his presentation, Humm said mobile operators had to learn how to market fixed networks. “We see huge benefits of getting cable know-how to kick-start our DSL business again,” he said. “The biggest synergies in acquisitions are always in-market. The biggest is if you can merge mobile to mobile but mobile to cable enables you to create synergies from the backhaul network and so on.”Addressing future trends, he said that Vodafone is investing in machine-to-machine applications, particularly in automotive, as well as energy monitoring and smart home applications. Humm said as Vodafone penetrates more a more consumer areas, it will see a big uptake of 5G, where low latency enables the distribution of HD video on the move. “That will be the next wave,” he said.
Sascha PruterPay TV operators will be best placed to manage the smart home on behalf of consumers, according to Sascha Pruter, head of Android TV programme management at Google.Speaking at the Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World Forum organised by content security provider Verimatrix at IBC, Pruter said the pay TV operators were best placed to expand their services beyond TV to “taking control of the house” because they have the customer relationship and can provide customers with a single number to call. “I think branding of pay TV operators will go towards a household brand rather than just a video brand,” he said.Addressing Google’s relationship with pay TV operators, Pruter said the first pay operators using Google TV as their platform of choice had launched Google Play stores on their TV services. “If we can come up with the right revenue model, [operators] can give consumers what they want while maintaining [their] own brand. For Google this is a partnership opportunity. Operators approach us and want to talk about these partnership opportunities,” he said.Pruter said that the user expectation had changed and consumers were used to going to app stores and getting things quickly. He said that one of the key requirements for operators is to be able to react quickly to trends. “The industry now seems to realise that reacting to changes has to happen fast to compete with the web and mobile,” he said.However, TV is still distinct from mobile, he added: “I don’t think all the principles from mobile apply to TV. Expectations of quality are very different. I’m much less tolerant of jitter on TV than when watching a YouTube clip while waiting for a bus.”Pruter said content regulations as well as rights issues needed to be challenged in many cases. “On the content side, yes, it take time to get rights but content owners are getting more used to things. They are realising that things in the way of consumers getting the content are harming them,” he said.Also participating in the session, Verimatrix CEO Tom Munro said that “one thing the operators can sell is trust” and that this would give them a role even in an app-centric world.Munro said that “the cord would become more difficult to cut” as operators move beyond video to applications such as home security.Speaking on the same panel, Francisco Saez Arance, service development director, global video unit Telefonica, agreed that OTT technology is enabling operators to innovate faster while maintaining the value of pay TV through legacy technologies. “We have to deal with complexity in the most open way that’s available,” he said. “As a pay TV operator with different operations, we are trying to leverage the existing assets and provide some unified layers that we brought from the OTT arena to provide unified experiences.” Saez said that the operator had “enough magical glue” coming from the OTT world to enable it to deliver consistent experiences.Saez said that Telefonica was leveraging cloud technologies to enable viewers to consume linear content in a non-linear way through features enabled by the cloud such as DVR and pause, leading him to use the phrase “flexilinear” to describe what is happening. He said that commercial agreements and contract rights are more challenging than technology restrictions in enabling all this to take place.Saez said that there is an issue about who controls user data and provides the user experience, including content search and discovery.“Some content providers are only providing access to services in a not very integrated way, but we are always looking to provide more value and looking at how to gather knowledge of their content assets and how to provide better recommendations. We integrate third party portals and their catalogues to provide value to their customers and it’s a question of the willingness of the content owners,” he said.