The centralization of network technology has been the foundation of communications and connectivity since the invention of the telephone. Endpoints are interconnected through large established nodes which hold the intelligence needed for interconnection and routing. However, some pain points for consumers and industry have emerged as usage volume and profiles have changed – particularly with the rapid adoption of wireless. For businesses or consumers, networks are a means to an end: solve problems and make or save money. Users want convenience, simplicity, and connectivity at a price they can afford. The video streaming and content delivery marketplace is one that can shake off the limitations of centralized networks and rapidly expand to meet market needs. Here’s a look at some of the problems they need to solve to move forward:
- High cost of connectivity, subscriptions, OTT services
- Poor service from a network designed to carry non-time-sensitive or bandwidth-hungry data
- Multiple bills sow confusion, often leaving consumers paying for overlapping applications or services
- Limited content access means you have to accept what your provider offers, not necessarily what you want
- Limited access to new services cedes control to large monolithic network providers that control what is available and when
- High cost of last-mile delivery. Two slim copper wires can no longer provide needed bandwidth. Coaxial cable may soon be outstripped, and fiber to the endpoint is a capital-intensive proposition
- Large common carriers have no fiscal incentive to improve the situation
- Consumers paint with a broad brush, dislike all providers
What consumers really want is an inexpensive and reliable method for connectivity and access to the services they want at a fair cost. While we have access to content, social networking, and communications services today, we have unfortunately become accustomed to a set of delivery mechanisms that are not in consumers’ best interests:
- Consumers are forced to purchase connectivity from multiple providers who each want to provide a proprietary delivery channel into the home and maximize their individual revenue streams.
- Consumers pay a high total cost for the combination of internet, phone, cellular, cable/satellite, and content streaming services.
- Data usage is throttled back via cellular data usage charges and artificially imposed limits on internet bandwidth.
- Poor customer service has become accepted as the norm.
- Internet and Cellular services providers do not ensure privacy of sensitive consumer information.
Today, consumers accept the current delivery model with all its inherent flaws, but this will only last until they become familiar with better alternatives.
Just like consumers, the telecom and content industries want a better reality than what they have now. Telecom companies have a great opportunity to open new business channels with mesh. While they have the customer base and market reach to achieve success, they also face consumer apathy and the high cost of maintaining legacy infrastructure to expand last-mile capacities that enable new uses and applications.
And, as demonstrated by the actions of major content owners that utilize OTT streaming, there is a rising demand for an adaptable last-mile technology that facilitates content delivery directly to consumers, minimizing the role of these telecom carriers.
The telecom players are exploring options to transition away from the traditional infrastructure model and embrace a more future-looking approach. The next incremental step along the old path appears to be the highly-touted 5G technology – that is yet to be fully defined. Early estimates for 5G deployment exceed $500 billion to build the delivery infrastructure—an investment so large it will make their business even more unprofitable and noncompetitive compared to new wireless mesh alternatives.
To bring the wants and needs of industry and consumers together, there is a need for a low-cost, universal solution. Connectivity must be in every neighborhood, at a price that makes sense for both consumers and the industries that serve them.
To date, centralized networks have been failing to deliver this kind of connectivity. 5G promises more of the same: centralized infrastructure, but at an even higher price. Wireless mesh provides a capital-efficient path forward that employs a decentralized approach to address the demands and needs of providers and consumers.