June 09, 2020

Open Software Platforms: an Opportunity To Accelerate Your Innovation Cycle

Looking ahead to the future, open software platforms are only expected to grow. Leveraging the power of open source technology allows for faster innovation and higher growth.

Open platforms vs proprietary solutions:  impact on growth for NSPs

Open software platforms allow NSPs to attain higher customer engagement

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the criticality of connectivity and the need for powerful broadband connections and high-quality Wi-Fi services at home, changing the relationship between NSPs and their customers. As a consequence, NSPs need to re-think how they engage with consumers and how to adapt to new behaviors very quickly.

This requires a shift away from proprietary CPE technology with limited functionality, toward the adoption of open platforms that support a growing array of home applications that extend way beyond traditional service offerings and that are key for sustainable customer engagement.

Open software platforms deliver new and more relevant services faster

With proprietary solutions, there is high risk when spending time and money to do the same thing over and over again, working on the same core software components, developing the same missing components, integrating them together, testing  and then debugging. This does not greatly contribute to rolling out the latest innovations more rapidly.

In contrast, the main purpose of an open software strategy is to capitalize on what has already been developed, proven efficacious and continuously maintained by the community. This means saving time by reusing a software component or solution with the goal of spending this time saved in designing superior services to differentiate from competition.

With the right open software strategy, set-top-boxes, gateways or Wi-Fi extenders can quickly become the new home neurologic system. Adopting an open source approach puts NSPs in a unique position to facilitate the installation, usage and interoperability of different offerings, ensuring a better and managed quality of service while optimizing personalization as the increase in data is more easily aggregated.

This is what delivers value to consumers, attracts new ones, and retains existing ones while generating higher ARPU.

Technicolor has been working with NSPs to abstract the hardware and software layers by deploying open customer premises equipment (CPE) platforms that can deliver a greater variety of new and more relevant video and broadband services to consumers.

Open software platforms are now widely adopted across CPE devices

By adopting this strategy, we allow NSPs to leverage the latest technology innovations more rapidly, at a much lower cost, and adapt to ever changing consumer needs in a swift manner. Here are examples of technological advancements in the open source environment that brought major improvements to consumers:

RDK-B and OpenWRT

On the access front, the high bandwidth capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1, Fiber and 5G access technologies have been further enhanced by standards such as RDK-B and OpenWRT, which are swiftly becoming requirements for creating a viable and universal platform to host the new wave of revenue generating home applications, like those Technicolor pre-integrates from our HERO ecosystem of partners. The rapid acceptance of RDK-B and OpenWRT has been based on the fact they are open standards that ensure interoperability.

Android TV and RDK-V

On the video services front, Android TV and RDK-V are now key open platforms to managing aggregation of content from multiple sources -- including streaming apps and gaming. As an example, Technicolor CPEs come with pre-certified Netflix and Amazon Prime video apps on Android TV. The certification process from these two leading OTT players is made of several complex iterations and interactions with the respective teams on the streaming provider’s, manufacturer’s and NSP’s side. The time saved by adopting open platforms that pre-integrate these very popular services must be compared to the heavy and time-consuming work that would need to be done from scratch on each and every proprietary platform. Many NSPs cannot afford losing this time and must adopt an agile strategy.

EasyMesh open standard managing the Wi-Fi home network

The latest Wi-Fi 6 standard enriched with EasyMesh is another example of how open software can offer a world of possibilities, not only ensuring high performance quality but also enabling interoperability between Wi-Fi extenders, along with standardized remote diagnostic and remediation capabilities. This enables NSPs to futureproof connected devices and take the burden of resolving several issues off the shoulders of subscribers.

Open software platforms are a catalyst for innovation

In the last few years, we have seen accelerated changes in consumers’ behaviors: consumption of premium content everywhere in the home and at any time, more frequent multi-user scenarios, the requirement for uninterrupted service throughout the home and an increased sensitivity to privacy and security topics. These changes have triggered new pain points that require the most attention and the allocation of dedicated resources to solve them while ensuring scalability across standardized platforms in order to answer consumers’ demand quickly. These pain points are also opening up new revenue opportunities for NSPs.

Innovation to manage the complexity of video applications

Open platforms support a growing array of home applications that extend way beyond traditional service offerings. As we discussed earlier, video services such as Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video have been massively adopted by consumers who are adding these new OTT players to their existing TV services. In so doing, consumers are not only adding cost back into their connected home entertainment experience, they are also introducing a significant amount of complexity as each offering presents its own navigation, subscription, and content model. For many users, this can be difficult to manage, especially for content search, discovery, and recommendations. As a result, priority must be given to innovations revolving around vastly improved -- and integrated --user interfaces that intuitively enhance the customer experience by proposing a more personalized content consumption.  Interaction design such as far field voice, for example, has become a critical new battle to differentiate.

Innovation to manage IoT with minimal user interventions

Similarly, a growing array of Wi-Fi and IoT offerings are now on the market from many different vendors. Consequently, we are seeing a heterogeneous mix of extenders, smart locks, health monitoring systems, intelligent appliances -- and much more -- that involve different in-home network and infrastructure resources. Bringing all of these moving parts together is challenging, but the latest technological developments are enabling their convergence. This is unachievable working across proprietary technologies that cannot communicate or interact with each other. Open platforms allow NSPs to produce offerings that help consumers manage multiple IoT services easily with a minimal need for user intervention.

Innovation to reinforce privacy within the connected home

Another set of important issues revolve around cybersecurity. As new internet-enabled devices proliferate, it will be important to secure each of the growing number of endpoints as well as the data that is flowing through the network. Unlike computers and most mobile phones, IoT devices do not tend to have security measures like antivirus and privacy protection. This is an issue that NSPs can address if they choose a home gateway based on open standards, pre-integrating security applications like the ones proposed by Technicolor and its HERO partner CUJO AI.

Conclusion

In short, the experiences and services that are increasingly being demanded by consumers will only be met by deploying in-home CPE infrastructures that can interoperate across the technology stack and among different technology providers at any given layer. NSPs that implement an agile system of services based on open source architectures will find that they have created an infrastructure that will future-proof their role as indispensable partners in managing choice and complexity for their customers.