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1-Billion get broadband fix

There are now more than one billion fixed broadband subscribers worldwide, the Broadband Forum revealed at Broadband World Forum 2018.

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The achievement – which has been confirmed by leading market analysis firm Point Topic – follows the release of Point Topic’s World Broadband Statistics Q2 2018 report which saw the number of fixed broadband subscribers grow by 2.5 per cent from Q1 2018, the highest surge in the last six quarters.

“This is a truly outstanding achievement, led by the communications industry, that has resulted in a major leap forward for humankind,” said Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh. “Broadband connectivity is a cornerstone of modern life, and a catalyst for innovation and progress globally – I am proud of the key role that the Broadband Forum has played in facilitating this accomplishment. For broadband service providers, a billion installations represent an enormous opportunity for building new value on top of this foundation with new cloud-based services, enhanced efficiencies driven by virtualization and artificial intelligence, and sensational new experiences.

“That said, passing this milestone also means that the industry is now chipping away at the remaining one billion plus potential subscribers in the world that have a thirst for broadband but have yet to be connected. This represents another area of huge potential opportunity and growth – both for operators seeking new markets, as well as for improvements to the quality of life of these potential subscribers.”

Point Topic’s Q2 2018 report reveals the majority of new subscribers are now coming from less developed regions and countries. However, according to the report, growth in ARPU is being seen in developed markets, driven by improved offerings and services supported by gigabit-capable broadband.

The research also highlights that around 80% of global connections are fiber-based – including Fiber-to-the-Home/Business/Cabinet connections – or cable-based, while ADSL connections are continuing to decline, having dropped eight per cent in the last year.

“There is no doubt that we have now hit one billion broadband subscribers, with the growth over 2018 being quite rapid,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO, Point Topic Ltd. “In more saturated broadband markets, operators are focusing on upgrades to support gigabit broadband as they prepare to meet the requirements of new technologies such as IoT and the needs of more demanding consumers.

“What is also interesting is that the number of broadband subscribers nearly exactly correlates with installations of the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 protocol, which currently sits at nearly one billion deployments. This shows how critical broadband standards are and the important role TR-069 has played in fostering the ecosystem and creating the mass market that stimulated broadband innovation and subscriber adoption.”

The Broadband Forum announced the milestone during its Executive Workshop which is taking place on the opening day of Broadband World Forum 2018. It will also demonstrate its evolution of TR-069 for the IoT world, User Services Platform (USP), and its ‘open source’ initiative, Open Broadband – Broadband Access Abstraction (OB-BAA), at the Broadband World Forum’s Interop Pavilion.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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