Broadband providers should highlight network reliability for new normal era consumers, says GlobalData

Data speed has always been, and still remains, a key selling point for fixed broadband networks. However, many service providers in Europe have altered their pitches to emphasize service reliability, though there are often few to no guarantees around that metric, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Natasha Rybak, Principal Analyst Global Telecom Consumer Services at GlobalData, comments: “COVID-19 has accelerated the need for reliable residential broadband, but reliability is a broad kind of benchmark, encompassing aspects that are both measurable, such as uptime, latency and failover, and experiential.

“Where carriers do offer hard-and-fast guarantees, they usually default to measurements of basic speed-based parameters, in deference to the primacy of ‘speed’ as the focus of broadband marketing as well as its appeal as a simple and easily communicated performance metric.”

Some of the following examples pre-date widespread COVID-19 lockdowns, but nonetheless provide insights into the types of reliability guarantees that service providers are now offering.

A1 Telekom Austria’s 5Giga Bandbreiten Garantie ensures at least 90% of promised bandwidth performance. A subscriber can receive a €50 credit for lackluster service performance, and if a second case occurs, the customer is given the option of either free subscription downgrade to the next lower bandwidth service tier or outright cancelation.

BT in the UK, which touts ‘reliable broadband speeds all day, every day’, offers the BT Stay Fast Guarantee, which is offered upon activation of a new service. If regular monitoring detects a fault, the BT Hub is remotely reset. If a customer detects a fault, a support call can be initiated followed by an engineer visit if necessary.

A related trend involves the provision of automatic failover to mobile connectivity via a hybrid home hub in cases of fixed broadband interruption. That approach has been undertaken by both BT/EE in the UK and Vodafone UK.

Rybak adds: “In Europe, reliability-focused marketing appears most commonly in association with the promotion of high-speed fixed broadband services, both cable- and fibre-based, alongside the must-have nod to superfast speed. In this context, ‘reliability’ – a term whose meaning is sometimes implicit, but increasingly spelled out with illustrative real-life use cases – addresses the critical need for stable, always-on access in today’s uber-connected home.

“The digitally induced blurring of lines between the personal world of the household and the external world of work, school, and play that was rapidly accelerated by the realities of COVID-19 will continue inflaming the vulnerable pain point of too often un-‘reliable’ whole household internet coverage. Carriers must take into account the new daily realities consumers are facing when it comes to crafting reliability messaging, underscoring the ability of a broadband connection to meet any necessary usage requirements, including a shift to both home-schooling and working.” ­­­

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