January 18, 2021

Technicolor’s Mercedes Pastor Outlines Key Strategies and Solutions for Network Service Providers in Eurasia Through 2021

By Mercedes Pastor, SVP, Eurasia Business Unit, Connected Home at Technicolor

2020 was a year of disruptions for industries across every business sector around the world. For global network service providers (NSPs) and technology companies, a huge shift in consumer habits and expectations drastically affected the emerging trends within the global customer premises equipment (CPE) marketplace.

2020 was a year of disruptions for industries across every business sector around the world. For global network service providers (NSPs) and technology companies, a huge shift in consumer habits and expectations drastically affected the emerging trends within the global customer premises equipment (CPE) marketplace.

To learn more about the current state of CPE and get an update on technologies and features that are emerging as critical to the success of NSPs in Europe and Asia moving into 2021, we connected with Mercedes Pastor, the Vice President Eurasia of Technicolor Connected Home.

Here is what she had to say:

Q: Mercedes, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Can you tell us a bit about what happened in 2020 and what we can expect moving into 2021 in the customer premises equipment and connected home environments in Europe and Asia?

Mercedes Pastor: Absolutely. 2020 and COVID-19 represent a turning point that has drastically accelerated the adoption of new technologies by operators across all regions, including Europe and Asia.

COVID lockdowns changed the digital lives of people all over the world. The move to study, work and shelter in place has put immense pressure on technology companies, including NSPs. The industry was challenged to meet new user needs and expectations.

Prior to COVID, there was already a lot of talk about bandwidth and the enabling technologies -- based on cable and fiber -- that would deliver the broadband needed to meet the needs of connected homes. However, the new requirements for working and studying from home revealed an immediate and urgent need for an improved user experience that included reliable and fast connectivity, seamless video streaming and increased security. As a result, we have seen rapid adoption of solutions that address markets not served by traditional terrestrial infrastructures. We have therefore seen significant interest rise in the deployment of fixed wireless access (FWA) technologies, mainly based on the new 5G spectrum that is being rolled out around the world at different rates.

In addition to larger efforts to deliver as much bandwidth as possible to connected homes in Europe and Asia, we also saw a growing requirement to better manage the rising number of devices within residences that need access to internet and cloud resources. Wireless networks inside the homes of NSP customers needed to be upgraded.

That is why, at Technicolor Connected Home, we accelerated our plans to introduce Wi-Fi 6 to the market and integrate them into our gateways. We have seen an evolution in demand for managed -- or smart -- Wi-Fi technologies to improve the user experience.

One of the big impacts from the pandemic was the sudden shift of traffic from mobile networks to home Wi-Fi networks. It’s an unprecedented event resulting from a huge shift in consumer behavior and it’s a big challenge for NSPs.

Wi-Fi 6 technology improves the residential user experience in terms of latency and better supports the growing number of connections in the home.  Wi-Fi 6 -- and the upcoming Wi-Fi 6E technologies -- are very exciting. We should see these technologies widely deployed within the next few months. This will be a core part of the strategy for NSPs in 2021.

Related to these trends, we saw another key area of change and adaptation. NSPs have focused on the role of analytics and data-driven applications to drive greater operational efficiencies as well as to get better and faster insights into the performance of devices and applications in the home. This was extremely important in 2020 and will continue to play a major role in the success of NSPs throughout 2021.

And finally, there is the role of video streaming. Video streaming growth is no longer just a trend in the U.S. market. It has spread to Europe and Asia forcing NSPs to review their video strategies to ensure safe, fast and secure aggregation and streaming of content.

Q: So, Mercedes, you seem to be stressing the importance of the user experience. Tell me what changes -- or specific operational imperatives -- NSPs might have to embrace to enhance subscriber experiences.

Mercedes Pastor: The new work from home norm has changed user experience expectations. Reliability of services and connectivity, as well as appropriate bandwidth, have been elevated and will continue to remain a key requirement. As a result, additional investments may be required to adapt the network architecture and increase infrastructure capacity.

These improvements will have to be matched by better capacity -- and performance -- of gateways and set-top boxes in the home. A more sophisticated environment is needed that is both faster and smarter than the previous generation of technologies. NSPs will need to offer a combination of technology- and application-driven solutions that offer new enhanced value-added services.

Consequently, we can expect NSPs to adopt more agile and open architectures so that they can provide solutions that meet the demand and evolving requirements.

Security is another important factor. With consumers throughout Europe and Asia more engaged in online activities for their personal and professional lives, more attention will have to be paid to digital risk. It is no longer an option, it’s now a requirement. NSPs are in a very good position to be a trusted partner in providing services that protect the rapidly rising number of people, devices and applications that are linked to connected home networks.

It will also be important, however, to ensure the delivery of high-quality broadband access services. Increased consumption of streaming media, online gaming, and video conferencing requires higher bandwidth than ever before. That is why solutions such as DOCSIS 3.1 and GPON fiber -- to take just a couple of examples -- will be so important in order to offer the capacity to reach speeds above one gigabit-per-second (Gbps). I fully expect 2.5 Gbps access to become a standard requirement in the market as we move deeper into the decade.

For the video side of the equation, the biggest challenge facing NSPs will be retaining their existing customers while optimizing strategies for new content, premium content, aggregation of applications, and pricing structures that are attractive for users.

Q: Very interesting. Customer premises equipment looks very different in 2020 than it did in 2018 and even 2019. How does a company like Technicolor Connected Home support this shift?

Mercedes Pastor: Well, at Technicolor Connected Home, our business has transformed at the same pace as the conditions in the market. We have accelerated the development of our key platforms to deliver new technologies on Wi-Fi 6, smart Wi-Fi and higher speeds.

We’ve also addressed connectivity requirements and new expectations in video streaming. And we are developing a wider set of set-top boxes that incorporate open platforms like Android TV and state of the art chip sets to allow more eco-friendly solutions with less power consumption.

Having said that, technology is only part of how we are accelerating technologies in the market. We also have worked to address issues in the supply chain which was necessary to ensure we have adequate components for manufacturing and logistics. Our goal is to ensure that we can continue serving our customers, implement processes, and even donate our processes so that we can provide a more agile and flexible supply chain through volatile shifts in the market.

While 2020 has been quite eventful, it is not the first time in the last few years that we have faced unexpected events that have disrupted supply chain operations feeding the NSP community. For example, three years ago, there was a shortage in the memory market. The following year, it was about the capacitors and resistors market. Today, the industry is making a huge shift to address new consumer behaviors a result of a global pandemic.

Through it all, Technicolor Connected Home has demonstrated a flexibility and agility that has allowed us to develop and deploy new technologies and solutions in a timely manner. We have demonstrated that we can -- and will continue -- to quickly meet the needs of our customers.

Nobody can predict what will happen in the next 12 or 24 months. What we can be sure of is that every year we will face different challenges and opportunities. I have to say that Technicolor Connected Home is prepared for the challenges.