Why football is kicking off demand for broadband

bt-sport-460-2013-outdoor-campaig_460In the week that a lot of attention was focused on a Scottish man leaving his job of 27 years to spend more time with the wife, UK incumbent BT announced a major coup – it would be offering access to 38 live Premier League football games free via its new BT Sport channel – and this would bundled free to anyone signing up to its BT Broadband subscriptions. The deal consists of two channels BT Sport 1 and BT Sport 2 in both SD and HD variants.

This piqued my interest as BT’s TV package is more interesting that most in that it’s based on its BT Vision platform – which delivers a video-on-demand service over IP. However, it turns out to be less interesting than I had hoped as it’s not available exclusively on that platform. It does not require access to BT’s FTTC BT Infinity package – standard ADSL customers can get it too as it’s available as standard linear broadcast DTV channels via the BT Vision box. Sky customers will also be able to get it too.

So while it’s less interesting from a technical perspective from a marketing slant it’s still significant that football is being used as a carrot to lure people to get one broadband package over another.  After all competition in the UK is fierce with rivals such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky, the other major ISPs, all vying for market share.

With BT’s fibre network open to its rivals on a wholesale basis, BT can’t really compete in terms of technical specifications or performance. And after all, the average punter doesn’t really care about such things – but said punter does care about football.

In 2014, the eyes of the football world will be moving to Brazil for the World Cup, and in my recent interview with the CEO of TIM Fiber, the fibre focused arm of TIM Brasil, the second largest mobile operator in the country with more than 35 per cent market share.

Holding major events will naturally put a huge strain on the telecommunications networks of a country – and Brazil has up to now been far from leading the back in this regard. The World Cup, and the Olympics, which will follow in 2016 in Rio, are a massive incentive to boost the standards for telecoms in the region.

You’d expect therefore for massive investments to be put in place and Rogerio Takayanagi, CEO of TIM Fiber, Brazil, has confirmed that this is the case with an investment of BRL10bn (US$4.93bn).

He believes that the country will be ready for the data flux, stating that: “I believe that despite the data peak, TIM customer’s and our visitors will have a great experience during the events.”

It’s not just about fibre. 4G LTE will start to hit Brazil in a big way and once again it’s football that’s a catalyst – with Takayanagi stating that it will launch in the six cities that are set to host the continent’s Confederation cup, the same cities that will then host the World Cup a year later – along with another six additional cities.

Proof then that when it comes to getting a nation’s telecoms up to speed it’s football that’s really kicking things off.

The Broadband LATAM conference is taking place on 2 – 3 July 2013 at the Grand Hyatt, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Click here to download a brochure.


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