Mike Fries: introducing the GIGAWorld

Mike Fries

Mike Fries

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries explains his vision for the rapidly approaching ‘GIGAWorld’ and why it will change your life. 

Imagine a world where your running shoes report back to you on how many miles you’ve clocked. A world where a home buyer can view properties through a virtual reality headset without having to set foot inside. A world where hologram teachers get beamed into your living room to teach you or your children from the comfort of your own home.

This is what we call the GIGAWorld – where these applications and innovations are supported by networks like the ones we operate throughout Europe that are capable of delivering gigabit per second speeds to every household and business. And it’s closer than you think. According to a research project we’ve commissioned from Arthur D Little, more than seven in ten telco industry experts believe that these next-generation applications will be commonplace in just five years.

Across Europe, we already have more than 50 million GIGAReady homes capable of being upgraded to gigabit speeds with minimal cost – and we’re investing billions to extend our networks to millions more homes over the coming years.

We’re doing this because we’ve already seen that the world is moving beyond simply connecting people – to one where connectivity is always on. Computers, smartphones, tablets and wearables have become a critical and irreplaceable component of life, work and play.

But without the superfast speeds provided by fibre-rich networks such as ours, they can only do so much – like having the latest state-of-the-art smartphone, but only being able to use it in airplane mode.

The proliferation of next-generation devices and applications is set to fuel even greater demand. The creativity demonstrated in the development of these technologies and services is awe-inspiring – from smart home appliances to virtual and augmented reality, massive data analytics and artificial intelligence.

And it’s a market that’s going to get a lot bigger, quickly. According to Ovum, the value of the global smart home market alone is expected to rise from US$12.6 billion (€12 billion) to US$76 billion between 2015 and 2020. We’re well prepared for this skyrocketing demand, thanks to our role as investors and innovators in our state-of-the-art networks across Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, empowering tens of millions of people through superfast broadband and innovative TV products.

But speed is not enough. Customer experience and technical performance are critical, which is why quality of service is the other key component of our GIGAWorld vision.

We know that people want powerful experiences that are effortless to access. In the UK, for instance, we’ve seen how 800,000 of our video customers who access the Netflix app built into our Virgin Media box watch more television, churn less and are happier subscribers.

So what does this tell us we need to do? It’s straightforward: keep it simple and seamless.

To improve customer experience, we offer the right content, at the right time, in the right format and at the right price point. We do this by partnering with creators, investing in content companies and producing our own content. We also make full use of our scale and bundle services.

To improve technical performance, we’re thinking outside the box – quite literally – to solve connectivity problems that are traditionally beyond our scope of broadband. WiFi, for instance, is a common pain point. So, we are developing technologies that make WiFi work better, inside and outside the home. One of our innovations automatically connects customer devices to the best channel and bandwidth for optimal performance and a seamless experience. Another uses publicly available property data to help troubleshoot architecture-related issues to connectivity.   

We’re even harnessing the power of big data to predict and fix problems before they arise. And that’s because if you want to set the pace in a GIGAWorld, collaboration is key.

Collaboration adds agility. We have small, interactive teams that work with vendors to bring leading products and services to market. The result: some incremental improvements now take four to six weeks to develop, not 12-18 months.

Collaboration fuels innovation. We work with start-ups, venture partners and academia to develop disruptive technologies.

Collaboration improves customer experience. Integrated programmes, platforms and processes manage complexity behind the scenes. So, customers can just sit back and enjoy the show.

As a pioneer of the digital age, Liberty Global has become indispensable to millions of customers. We’re proud to support the smartphones and social media that connect them, the entertainment that inspires them and the apps that help them manage everyday life.

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