Invest, Innovate and Compete (and growth will come organically)
Times are challenging in Europe. And for some it is tempting to use a wide brush to paint a dark picture for the whole continent. While there are difficulties for some players in the ICT arena, it is too early to draw comparisons to a Lehman Brothers-style collapse for the sector. It’s no coincidence that companies peddling negative messages are the ones with negative or flat growth. But it’s not just a “can’t do” attitude that is holding some in the sector back. The debate kick started by Vice President Neelie Kroes’ “Connected Continent”, pro- posed EU telecoms legislation, represents an opportunity to get Europe back on track.
28 Elephants, 28 Rooms
Judging from the importance that governments across the globe give broadband policy, Commissioner Kroes is right to be pushing the broadband envelope. She also makes an important link between investment and performance. But to invest, you need a good investment environment where risk levels are not aggravated by significant variations in the market that Europe is still trying to turn into a single one. One cannot ignore the differences in Europe among member states – it remains the
proverbial elephant in the room for both the business and political community. And it’s a big enough elephant that it got a mention in European Commission President Barroso’s State of the Union address. He asked a poignant question, “Isn’t it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital market we have 28 national markets?”
The F Word
The European Parliament who will be combing through Neelie Kroes’ proposals along with the European Council which brings together relevant ministers from Europe’s 28 members (which the Commissioner recently referred to as “28 ring-fenced telco markets”). Breaking up Kroes’ proposed package into pieces – an – other kind of equally unwanted fragmentation – brings with it significant risks in urgent times, as the Commissioner warned the European Parliament (its first reading is expected to take place in March 2014).
Home monitoring and security could represent an important new high-growth revenue stream for European cable operators.
Market studies in Switzerland showed that interactive home monitoring systems would appeal to between 21-28% of homes over the next four to five years, according to Markus Doetsch, executive vice-president and head of smart living, Swisscom, speaking on a panel session at the CTAM Europe EuroSummit in Vienna last Friday.
Doetsch said people were increasingly organising their lives around their smartphones and it was only a small step to extend this to using these devices to monitor and control their homes. He said telcos and cable operators were well positioned to deliver these services. Swisscom’s Smart Living product provides subscribers with three interfaces to interact with the home – via smartphone, the web and a dedicated touchscreen device interface. Swisscom provides a dedicated wireless home device as the key device for interacting with the home.
Home monitoring and security is already big business in the US, where there is a greater emphasis on the home security element. In Europe, home energy monitoring is seen as providing greater potential. In addition to energy monitoring, Swisscom does provide a home security service but not as a default option.
European cable operators expect CAGR of 5% on average this year, with broadband driving most of the growth, according a survey of European cable operators carried out by Solon Management Consulting.
Average margin from cable’s services is expected to grow to 48% by 2014, while operating cash flow margin is expected to rise to 29%, Matthias Hamel, principal, head of technology and innovation, Solon Management Consulting, told CTAM Europe EuroSummit attendees this morning.
Cable operators believe premium pay TV will continue to grow, according to the survey, while broadband penetration is expected to grow to 70% of the cable base by 2014. About 69% of survey respondents selected multiscreen delivery as the innovation that would be their major area of focus, ahead of the launch of next-generation set-top boxes and HD services. Some 45% of cable subscribers took only one service in 2011, but bundling products could reduce churn by a factor of five, according to Solon’s survey.
3D channel High TV has launched in Belgium on Telenet’s cable platform.
The channel, which began airing in the US in 2010, airs entertainment shows, news, travel shows from around the world, exclusive dramas, comedies, fitness programmes and movies in 3D.
“We are delighted that we can now offer our subscribers 24/7 high quality native 3D programming,” said Benny Salaets, vice-president, content at Telenet.