Table of Contents
The speed race has not yet reached the finish line
Over the past few months, many operators have announced the launch of new offerings with even higher speeds, thanks to their FTTH/B networks. In the space of six months, no fewer than five operators in Europe have launched 1 Gbps offerings! Up until then, 100 Mbps was considered the norm for ultra-fast broadband (UFB), but now there are many offerings with 300, 400 or 500 Mbps speeds. These are not always very visible and are sometimes not even available as part of a bundle (this is the case with Verizon's 500 Mbps offering, which is only available as a stand-alone service). However, this strategy allows telecom operators using FTTH to differentiate themselves better from cable operators whose peak speeds are normally around 150 to 200 Mbps.
Segmentation of services: speeds and TV/video services prioritised
UFB players do not always go for strong segmentation based on available speeds. As a general rule, plans are built around 3 to 4 speeds, but for some, the offering is limited to 1 or 2 speeds, continuing on from the positioning they adopted in the traditional broadband market. As for TV and video services, segmentation is sometimes stronger due to providing customers with themed packages (sports, movies, kids), especially for players from English-speaking countries. Generally speaking, telecom and cable operators from English-speaking countries have a very specific approach because they mainly promote video services and TV channels. Speed is only a secondary selling point. Their offerings are characterised by an increasing number of plans available with the ability to customise bundles (or, for more pragmatic players, to help select a pre-configured bundle). In other regions, the approach seems more pragmatic, with fewer bundles and a more limited choice for end users.
With a lack of innovative services, prices are remaining stable
None of the players studied here offers a particularly innovative service. Most bundle add-ons, such as new set-top box features, cloud-based storage, antivirus, etc., are systematically added to the basic offering. Therefore, operators are unable to differentiate themselves from each other. A very small number of players, such as Altibox in Norway and HKBN in Hong Kong, are exploiting the technical characteristics of FTTH networks to offer genuinely differentiated services with symmetric upload/download speeds. In the short term, it seems very likely that speed (including symmetry, guarantees, faster speeds) will remain the main area to exploit for UFB operators. This should impact prices offered, which have remained relatively stable in each of the major regions over the past year.
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