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Quadruple Play Services Likely to be Next Step for Service Providers
[April 12, 2006]

Quadruple Play Services Likely to be Next Step for Service Providers

TMCnet Contributing Editor
Triple play services or offerings of TV, phone and Internet, bundled together to deliver the optimal experience for consumers, has proven to be the effective solution for operators and service providers to maintain customer loyalty and deliver operational economies. ABI Research has completed a new study that has shown that some operators believe adding wireless as a fourth element will improve the equation even more.

In fact,
Sprint Nextel has announced that it intends to partner with several of the larger North American MSOs to offer this “quadruple play.” United Kingdom-based cable operator NTL is buying Virgin Mobile. Verizon is introducing its FIOS (Fiber Optic Services) and anticipates that consolidation of services and networks will be nearly seamless as a wireless division is already part of the company.

According to Michael Arden, Principal Analyst, Broadband and Multimedia at ABI Research, in many cases the marketing of triple or quadruple play services to consumers will precede integration of the networks and their equipment as true network integration takes time. The ABI study examines the networks themselves, not the services. To date, 
British Telecom is the only major operator to commit to complete integration of all its networks into one IP-based system.

While network consolidation to make triple and quadruple play services possible can reduce operational costs, it creates new challenges as well. The three levels of management – traffic control, equipment control and administration/billing – all have to work together and be interoperable. Standards will need to be deployed to make this possible.

Quality of service (QoS) and network “policy control” issues can also result from network consolidation. Certain operators expect to receive compensation for the extra bandwidth that is required to support hosted VoIP services that their partners run. Billing can also be complicated in these multimode arrangements, making effective processes and management an absolute necessity.
There are also questions of privacy and in order to prioritize network traffic, IP packets must be examined in some detail. Such a process identifies what individuals are doing online, creating controversy for the process.
Triple-Play Network Equipment and Systems", by ABI Research, provides and overview of the technologies that enable triple and quadruple play services. The study is divided into equipment and software sections and focuses on such issues as subscriber growth rates, emerging technologies, QoS and the role of mobile services.

The report from ABI highlights a significant trend in the industry – the bundling of services for optimal performance and customer retention. The addition of wireless as the fourth element is really the natural progression to ensure consumer demand is met and that operators and service providers can claim a chunk of that market.
While complete systems integration is expected to take time and challenges will arise, the benefits in potential revenues, market gain and customer retention far outweigh the bumps in the road. It is likely that those operators not following the quadruple play path will soon fall off the radar and will no longer be able to effectively compete for the consumer’s communication dollar.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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