Hybrid networks presenting new challenges, says Ziggo

Hybrid networks and the ability of content providers to bypass the relationship that access network providers have with their subscribers presents a new challenge for operators, leading them to seek new forms of partnership, according to Ivar Slavenburg, business innovation manager at Dutch cable operator Ziggo.

Hybrid delivery to multiple devices has a number of disadvantages for operators, according to Slavenburg, speaking at content security provider Verimatrix’s Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World event at IBC in Amsterdam.

Slavenburg said that until now Ziggo has created value through four main activities – its network, access services, media services – transcoding and ingestion – and media sales to its customers.

Increasingly, however, cable operators see content providers creating their own apps for multi-device access, including the likes of HBO, in whose Dutch operation Ziggo has a stake. On the delivery of OTT content over Ziggo’s network, Slavenburg said that the company was now seeing OTT players deliver content that Ziggo was also trying to sell direct to its customers, leading to a potential conflict of interest.

Slavenburg said that Ziggo’s focus was on upselling subscribers to take additional content. However, content providers were focusing on creating experences and enriching them with additional information and content around different screens. “This is now possible in the hybrid model,” said Slavenburg. “There is a broader range of ways in which content is disclosed to our subscribers.”

“There is a benefit for the consumer but there is a disadvantage for us because we don’t record exactly what the customer is doing any more,” said Slavenburg.

In the future, device manufacturers such as games consoles makers will build branded services, said Slavenburg. “It would be difficult for us to make the jump to become a gaming company but why shouldn’t we cooperate on one of the [four] layers…and still have our customer addressable for other services. We have to start thinking in layers. It is a different discussion than in the past, all because of hybrid network technology.”

Ziggo will roll out 4G in the next year. The company also has over one million WiFi slots in its network area.
“We have to be capable of running different technologies over our network,” said Slavenburg.

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