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New broadband entrants challenge established players to rethink their strategy

New broadband players are making an entry with innovative business models that challenge established providers to start rethinking their strategies, according to Arthur D. Little's report - 'Next Generation Networks in Europe - Broadband in 2011 and beyond'.

Arthur D. Little's proprietary broadband market model estimates that the global broadband market will be worth USD 75 bn in total revenues in 2006.

Total Broadband revenues are expected to exceed USD 145 bn by 2010, attracting a deluge of new players from different industries, vying for a piece of the pie.

Currently, broadband providers compete on speed and price. But as bandwidth becomes a commodity, the rules of the game change and service bundling will become the main driver of revenue growth.

Operators will fight to provide customer flexibility, to let them create their own bundle, anytime and anywhere. This requires fixed and mobile broadband access and seamlessly integrated services.

Incumbent telcos are likely to face intense competition from alternative players such as Yahoo, MSN, Google and Apple who would act as content aggregators and service providers.

This competition will lead to further infrastructure investments into Next Generation Networks (NGN) such as BT's 21CN and it will also increase pressure on prices and margins.

Incumbent telcos such as France Telecom, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica will be forced to create new partnerships. These operators must focus on providing seamless integrated access, while being alert to the strategies and tactics of innovative entrants outside the industry.

The report highlights that growth is expected in innovative broadband services, high-end video content services (HD, DVR and VOD) and fixed-to-mobile convergence.

Apart from traditional infrastructure and service providers, new, over-the-top market entrants such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, Apple/iPod and Microsoft are expected to benefit from this growth.

They will not only pressurise DSL incumbents to accelerate the development of broadband services but will also become relevant partners in shaping the future of the broadband landscape.

Arthur D. Little has developed three basic industry scenarios, namely operator dominance, shift of value towards internet companies, or sponsored environments.

In the first scenario, large converged operators would take the lion's share of consumer spend by providing fully integrated quadruple play services.

In a second scenario, the possibility of value shift towards cash-rich alternative companies (such as Yahoo, MSN, Google, Apple/iPod), which would act as content aggregators and service providers, was evaluated.

Finally, a critical look at the Fibre-to-the-Home developments as sponsored network initiatives.

It is not certain which scenario will prevail but the fight for the consumer "share of wallet" will be intense between operators and new service providers.

This study is therefore of interest to all key market players, as they struggle to make sense of broadband developments in the short and mid-term, anticipate the role of regulatory authorities, and decide on their next moves.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.