Earlier this week, former Wall Street analyst turned venture capital tech guru Mary Meeker presented KPCB’s annual (and highly influential) Internet Trends Report. It was 197 slides that could be best described as the unofficial temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate of the Internet economy.
The scope of the deck was wide, covering everything from advertising trends to emerging economies. From our perspective, six slides stood out, highlighting the growth, evolution and future of broadband, video entertainment, and the changing Internet marketplace.
The fact that user-controlled content has increased exponentially in the last ten years not only proves the rapid evolution of the Internet’s ability to manage multimedia content, it shows that competition for eyeballs (not to mention consumer media budgets) is fierce and growing fiercer.
Public Internet companies, once a niche industry, now have a market cap in the trillions. 11 of the top 15 are US-based companies, showing how well the American private industry broadband model is working.
The pace of Internet traffic is swift and steady. Not only does this slide reveal how intense the increased pressure video traffic is placing on our networks, it proves mobile is a viable wireline broadband alternative.
It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s still compelling to look at just how much more time we spend consuming content on mobile devices. As TV Everywhere technology and services expand and improve, we’ll see even more consumption on “vertical screens.”
The significant increase in Internet connectivity is in huge part because of the rapid expansion of nationwide broadband networks. Cable broadband, for example, is available to 93 percent of American homes.
An increasing trend in Internet access equals an increasing trend in e-commerce. More people have more opportunities to do more business in more places with fewer barriers. This is perhaps the most important promise of the Internet.
Earlier this month, NCTA and CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, hosted a discussion with Mark Greatrex, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at Cox Communications and Chairman of the Board at CTAM. He shared with us new research on how their customers engage with cable and broadband and how Cox is building stronger customer service relationships. He also discussed how Cox’s gigabit broadband service, G1gablast, is changing how customers are using the Internet.
Are you noticing that millennials and older customers need different things from the customer relationship?
Yes. When we market services to our customers, and discuss with them our products, we do actually have a segmentation framework. So we think about “single start-outs” differently than “trendy techies,” families and traditional seniors. They all like to learn about our products and services in different ways, buy them in different ways, and they value different things. So for instance, the concept of a video playlist – which, much like a music playlist, would be an electronic listing of programs that could be grouped by category, genre, network, or other attributes – does incredibly well among millennials. But the rest of our segments have less interest in that approach. So we see a lot of spikes when we’re working through innovation. We have to watch out that the averages do not obscure some real gems. TV Everywhere (TVE) is a great example of where millennials who are using a lot of “over the top” video particularly value TVE, because it gives them the kind of freedom, ready access and interface that they really value.
Can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on a nationwide approach to cable WiFi?
In a very similar way that we’ve successfully created an industry-wide approach to streaming video with TV Everywhere, it would be really powerful for our industry to come together and have unified support of cable Wi-Fi, with a consistent Wi-Fi experience no matter what market you’re in. And with the amount of household moves among the service “footprints” of various cable ISPs and Wi-Fi providers, it’s tremendously important to have a concerted industry-wide effort. I think you can look for us to work on this going forward, particularly through the auspices of CTAM.
What can you tell us about Cox’s personalized customer service experience?
We’re trying to personalize and customize the customer service experience. So when you log into your account, for instance, we should have the ability to bring up to the top what is of interest to you now. As an example, depending perhaps on a call you may have just made to us, we’ll move relevant data up – or, after we’ve fulfilled a specific request from you, we’ll drop that module down. We’re trying to get more interactive, dynamic, and customer-centric in the way that we deliver customer service.
You’ve said you believe customers prefer the option of having four or five television packages over pure “a la carte.” Why is that?
We do a lot of quantitative research and put a whole lot of options out in front of consumers, including full a la carte. And consumers still tend to migrate to bundles. They want a level of convenience. There’s value in convenience. And that value and affordability can be addressed in packages of content, often in ways that are superior to just putting out there a simple list of channels that could be chosen one by one. Through our on-demand service, the increasing ubiquity of the DVR, and of course TV Everywhere, we’re bringing our customers better and friendlier choices in content, than they’ve ever had before.
Your company recently began building and rolling out one-gigabit broadband service that you’re calling “G1gablast,” and you’re touting this new hyper-fast broadband experience as “the Gig Life.” Do you think most G1gablast customers are seeing the benefits of gigabit broadband?
We see that demand for speed at a certain price is a bell curve. And there are consumers who want to be way on the leading edge, with G1gablast. But there are others that understand their own needs, and a 20 Mbps or a 50 Mbps connection may be right for them. What we emphasize at Cox is value-based selling – meeting the customer where they are, helping them understand what their needs are.
And on the topic of gigabit broadband, Cox is unveiling new spots promoting G1gablast and the idea that with 100 times the speed of some broadband services, anything you can imagine is possible, asking the viewers the question, how will you live the “Gig Life?”
It seems like everyone, from the President, the Secretary of Education and the Chairman of the FCC to local newspapers, is saying schools need more broadband. And prestigious panels like the Aspen Institute and LEAD Commission are calling for a different kind of learning environment in schools to foster new 21st century skills.
As the nation’s largest broadband provider, the cable industry certainly appreciates the value of a robust broadband network and quality digital content for education, but we also realize that simply pumping up capacity, or dropping a bunch of laptops into students’ hands isn’t going to fundamentally change what happens in the classroom or create that new learning environment.
That’s why Cable Impacts, the industry’s foundation dedicated to corporate social responsibility, teamed with two leading education organizations, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, to create an new resource for schools and educators, Building Your Roadmap to 21st Century Learning Environments, www.roadmap21.org.
The Roadmap is a free planning tool designed specifically for education leaders to help schools get the most value out of their investments in high-speed broadband and digital content by crafting a comprehensive strategy to create 21st century learning environments. It was created with input from forty experts and is offered, free of charge and copyright cleared to educators.
The 21st century learning environments that schools are being asked to create are classrooms and buildings where, in addition to traditional subjects, like math, English and science, skills like critical thinking and collaboration are also learned and where that learning is personalized, adaptive and even self-directed.
Creating these environments requires a comprehensive plan that goes well beyond the technology and infrastructure and looks at all factors of the education system, such as leadership and school culture, teacher professional development, assessment and accountability systems. Yet schools often don’t have the planning experience or tools to manage this kind of transformation.
The Roadmap was created to help education leaders make their own comprehensive plans, customized for their unique circumstances. And it comes at an important juncture, when the FCC’s enhancements to the e-Rate are directing significantly more money for broadband to schools and libraries and when states and localities are ramping up their broadband plans to incorporate digital curriculum and computer-based, online testing.
In a few years we will all want to look back and see that our investments in broadband and digital content, in new standards and assessments were successful and that students are graduating better prepared for college and careers. To get there, however, we need a clear path. And mapping that path is what the Roadmap is all about.
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A typical subscriber in North America downloads over 57GB of data each month, but what does that much information look like? Network usage is proliferating exponentially, driven in large part by video streaming, according to the latest Sandvine Global Internet Phenomena Report. The typical subscriber in North America consumes an average of around 57GB of data…
As anyone who was there knows, the inaugural INTX: The Internet & Television Expo was an amazing experience. It was a coming together of industry leaders and emerging technologies to work through the future of entertainment and the Internet. It was by any measure a complete success. With the show now behind us, we wanted…