As the UK workforce continues to recover from the pandemic, many businesses have called employees back into the office. However, that doesn’t mean their home offices are disappearing. On the contrary – home offices are popping up at a frenetic pace. The rise of hybrid and remote work has created a strong demand for better internet at home. All of the signs for faster internet options like fibre are there, but as an internet service provider (ISP), the competition to capitalize is fierce. Each provider that delivers service is dropping its prices. However, it’s reached a point where it’s a race to the bottom. But what does this all mean?
Research from Point Topic has found that the quarterly rate of complete fibre networks in the UK remained strong, with growth at 12.5 per cent in Q4 of 2021. However, these figures are down 14.8 per cent from Q2. Between Q4 in 2021 and Q4 in 2020, the number of copper lines fell by 10.9 per cent. However, fibre connections increased by 13.6 per cent. Currently, the highest broadband growth rates continue to be found in the UK and throughout Europe.
The acceptance of hybrid and remote work has led homes to become offices and caused this historic shift. With more than eight million homes in the UK with access to the FTTH network in 2022, the market is booming and will continue well into the future. However, by only offering high speed and low prices, ISPs are guaranteeing a race to the bottom. Below, we’ll explain which services will elevate the future of ISPs.
ISPs Must Offer These Services to Add Value to Their Network
FTTH is the most favourable solution for meeting the unprecedented demand of the future. No one could have predicted the shift to remote and hybrid work would have happened this rapidly, but now that we’re here, it’s critical to understand the importance of what ISPs must offer to keep their clients intact.
As was mentioned above, high speed and the lowest prices are a race to the bottom. Laying pipe is a significant first step to expanding your network, but you won’t exist if that’s all your business does. It must add something of value. Customers don’t want fragmented supply relationships where they go to various places for their services, so as an ISP, you must offer additional and relevant services to have an edge.
Similar to what the industry saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s, ISPs must renew their focus on adding services like voice, messaging, and other communication offerings to add value and deliver triple-play and quad-play offerings. Although it’s often overlooked, voice is a highly valued service. One such company, Netgem, said “the move into voice was a natural extension of the usual bundles developed for ISPs, working alongside its partner Netsapiens, a Crexendo company.” It demonstrated the value of voice services.
Fixed line calling has risen in the last two years, while calls to and from mobile devices have fallen. Despite our workforce becoming more mobile, the meagre quality of mobile networks has caused home workers to revert to landlines to improve call quality and overall experience. Many people have ditched city life and moved to rural areas with the rise of remote work. Unfortunately, mobile devices cannot deliver what’s expected from them, meaning alternative options like fibre are necessary.
Fibre ISPs that offer voice services also deliver the recurring revenue and stickiness FTTH needs, providing them with a significant opportunity to re-imagine voice for the consumers by layering unified communications in addition to other fibre assets. It gives them an opportunity to curate a suite of services that drive margin and revenue growth, differentiates service offerings, and put a cap on customer churn.
Why do FTTH providers overlook voice services? The primary reason has been a singular focus on deploying a network with funding linked to the number of homes passed by the fibre provider or the number of homes sold to. In that same breath, Voice has been viewed as complicated to deploy. It’s something that takes too long for services to be up and running.
With unified communications platforms, a suite of voice services can be rolled out rapidly with expert support that assists FTTH providers with capturing new revenue and implementing it as a growth driver. Unified communications can help ISPs re-imagine voice services and help residential customers with the ability to take their home line on their mobile phone with visual voicemail. Call screening can help FTTH customers screen the calls of vulnerable family members.
ISPs Must Adopt Unified Communications
With unified communications, phone systems, instant messaging, SMS, screen sharing, and more can be controlled through a single user interface that’s accessible across all devices. It enables individuals to reach the most suitable device at a given time. Interest in Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) was growing prior to the pandemic. However, it spiked 86 per cent at the height of the crisis, according to a 2020 report from Avant. The market continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
The global UC market will hit $365.2 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of 21.25 per cent. Governments globally are working hard to develop unified communications platforms throughout various industries. For ISPs, adopting unified communications is a significant opportunity in addition to their high speed and low costs. Remote and hybrid work is here to stay, and FTTH is a vital component in supporting these home offices, which will continue to increase into the future.
Before the pandemic, remote work in the UK was rare; in 1981, only 1.5 per cent worked from home. By 2019, that figure tripled to 4.7 per cent and continues growing today. As we move forward, remote work is rapidly transitioning from a luxury to the norm, and 84 per cent of those who worked remotely during the pandemic expect to continue doing so. The writing is on the wall. If ISPs want to remain relevant, adopting unified communications in addition to their high-speed services and low prices should be at the forefront of their endeavours.
VoIP Is Growing Dramatically
Double-play and triple-play services offer a simplified billing plan for subscribers. As remote work grows, many people are willing to invest in services that successfully enable them to work from home. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of landline services delivered over broadband nearly doubled. Consumers are seeking unique ways to reduce the number of bills they have by receiving broadband and phone services from the same provider. High-performance broadband at home, in addition to reliable landline services, leaves a wide-open opportunity for ISPs to offer voice services.
With VoIP, ISPs can “land and expand” their services, starting with voice. Still, additional UC services like mobile forwarding, visual voicemail, call screening, or voice-to-text enable the office experience from home. The global VoIP services market is expected to surpass $278.53 billion, with a CAGR of 11.9 per cent by the end of 2031. For perspective, the market was valued at $82.71 billion in 2020. The rise in the adoption of residential and business lines across a broad range of end-users has translated into exceptional revenue-generating opportunities for ISPs moving forward.
The rising expansion of the telecommunications sector globally has led to a significant demand for voice services across both developed and developing nations. Many major small-to-medium-sized businesses from various industries are adopting VoIP services in an attempt to decrease communication-related costs. With VoIP, you can bypass expensive international roaming charges. As work becomes more global, that’s a significant savings in and of itself.
The Future of Fiber
The door between the office and home office has been kicked wide open, and the statistics don’t lie when they say unified communications are the future. ISPs can capitalize on the modern global business sphere by offering more services that support communication systems to operate networks. Fibre technology will play a significant role in this growth moving forward. As more and more businesses adopt unified communications and offer remote positions and more people need internet from home, FTTH will continue its growth to support this new era of workers.
However, competition will swallow up ISPs reluctant to offer voice services that support home offices with critical voice services. Margins will always depreciate with competition, but as long as you remain innovative by offering new services, you have the opportunity to grab the home office and make your way into tens of millions of homes. If you’d like to learn more and how FTTH can add value to unified communications, download our white paper, Adding Value in FTTH with Unified Communications, here.