MERGING AND CONVERGING: THE BATTLE FOR QUAD-PLAY

convergence

If you work in this industry, there is no way you will have failed to notice that both fixed and mobile operators are beginning to clamber over network assets to cement their position in the increasingly competitive “quad-play” market.

Ovum predicts that in 2019, the numbers of subscriptions for quad-play services in Europe will more than double.

There are already countries in Europe such as France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal where integrated operators are operating in a successful multi-play market. Up until now the UK market seems to have been lagging behind slightly, with Virgin Media playing alone in the quad-play world, however 2015 seems to be the year for this to change.

With BT set to buy EE, Three rumoured to be buying O2, Sky launching its own mobile network and Vodafone offering fixed line services; it’s all going on this year!

Probably the biggest story of the year for the UK has to be BT and EE. All is looking promising for this massive deal to complete, merging incumbent British Telecom with the largest mobile operator in the UK. This will give BT access to EE’s 4G network which covers over 80% of the UK population and is already being enhanced with EE’s LTE-Advanced rollouts. EE claim that LTE-A will double average speeds to 20Mbps and can reach up to 60Mbps (as well as increasing upload speeds to 11Mbps.)

And on top of this, this year saw Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-based company that owns the Three network, buying O2 from Spain’s Telefonica for £10.25 billion, cutting the number of network owners in the UK from four to three.

Not far behind these is the launch of Vodafone’s fixed line services, The new service, launched earlier this year, called Vodafone Connect, is operating on the nationwide fibre optic network Vodafone acquired from Cable & Wireless, and will provide internet speeds of up to 76mbps. Flying the flag for convergence, Vodafone has been quite vocal in stating that unified communications is the future.

And last but not least is Sky launching its very own mobile network. Given the rest of the activity, it was hardly surprising that the TV giant struck this deal with Telefonica to allow them access to its network in a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) partnership.

From researching with nearly 100 operators for this year’s Broadband World Forum programme, it seems that there is no clear, unified definition of what constitutes fixed-mobile convergence – and how far away we actually are from true convergence.

But what is clear is that with quad-play services at the heart of all this activity, operators will all be working towards their vision for unified communications and it won’t be long before fixed-mobile convergence solutions are the hottest things on the market.

Check out the programme for our newly focused Mobile Broadband & Convergence conference track, where will be exploring what integrated operators are already doing to merge their networks together on the journey to offer consumers unified and seamless services.

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