How communications service providers future-proof their digital home business with gateway software
by Conny Franzén
For communications service providers (CSPs), the broadband market landscape for digital homes is changing rapidly in terms of customer demand, expectations and new players providing attractive services. As a result, CSPs are at a crossroad. Can they afford to sit back and sustain their legacy or must they act now and secure their future business? And how does gateway software play a role?
Realizing a “sticky” modern digital home
According to a recent survey by Ernst & Young, “Are consumers comfortable in the digital home?” from February 2022, more than 20,000 households were surveyed from 8 different countries. Attitudes about what consumers allow in their digital homes are changing. For example, 51% of households are looking beyond traditional broadband services and can consider privacy or security features as part of their broadband package. This is a significant opportunity for CSPs.
At the same time, more and more devices are finding their way into the living room, home office, kitchen, bedroom, garage, and backyards. Homes are not only digital, but they are also intelligent. Smart home assistants like Google Home make it easy to automate control of lights, heating, wireless speakers, or home security devices, creating an entire ecosystem for a smart home. As a result, companies such as Google and Amazon capture a considerable amount of consumer wallet spending. With the current state of the global economy, consumers are even more selective about where they spend their money and the value they expect from services and devices. As these companies become more prevalent in homes, they develop “sticky” customer relationships. Not to mention all the data insights captured from devices provide these companies with valuable information. Because these companies capture and process so much data, they are often called hyperscalers. The combination of these different smart home perspectives can threaten CSPs and impact their share of consumer spending.
But how do CSPs tap into households’ willingness to have additional broadband services and keep companies like Google and Amazon at bay?
Why an open-source operating system provides options
For CSPs to capitalize on consumers’ interest in other applications and features for their digital home, they must have a gateway software platform in their residential gateway products that enables them to take this step. An open-source operating system such as IOWRT provides a software platform giving CSPs a tool to meet consumer demand and manage competitors. IOWRT combines technology from the OpenWrt* community with carrier grade requirements for broadband and IoT. The result is a gateway software platform independent from the hardware.
Opens the door for 3rd party applications
An operating system, preferably open-source with support for lifecycle management (LCM) and Linux container implementation, enables CSPs to implement a model where 3rd party applications run on top of the software.
LCM is based on Linux container technology. By using this, CSPs can innovate faster, respond quicker to market changes and scale more easily to meet customer needs. This creates advantages in the implementation process and shorter time-to-market of 3rd applications and advanced functions.
With IOWRT, CSPs can take advantage of a “ready to deploy” LCM (container) platform that includes all the underlying infrastructure. This means that 3rd application providers or the CSPs development teams can build, test, and deploy applications with speed, quality, and control.
Because it is open-source, it makes it easier for 3rd party vendors to integrate. CSPs become a host for these applications enabling add-on applications for households. For example, CSPs can deploy one gateway, add Wi-Fi extenders and IoT devices, sensors for tracking heating and offer consumers the same type of services as hyperscalers.
And CSPs also have a foundation for future applications. With an open-source operating system, they have a springboard to transform from triple play to a multi-play offering. As a result, they can take steps forward offering new services within the home in an open, standardized and scalable way based on protocols with no lock-in.
Can manage legacy devices
Even if CSPs are not ready to take on 3rd party applications, a hardware-independent gateway software platform allows you to source from multiple vendors and run them on the same software. There is no need to maintain several proprietary software platforms. As a result, the cost of operations decreases, and resources can be used to explore new opportunities. This could be the first stepping stone with minimum risk for the next generation of gateways and increase the average revenue per unit.
So whether or not you know which road to take in developing your digital home business, an open-source operating system gives you the tools to get you there.
*OpenWrt is a trademark owned by Software in the Public Interest, Inc.