By Marianne Brunat, Head of Sales Division - June 15, 2017
Everywhere, high-speed broadband has become a necessity and a way to distinguish between territories - both for the general public and for businesses. Operators, governments, local groups, and investors alike are working to bring super-fast connections to as many people as possible, or even for everyone.
But within markets with strong price competition, where different networks exist side-by-side - notably in the densest zones - investing in FTTH could prove risky for operators in the short term, especially while the regulatory framework is not completely secure. Indeed, how is it possible to offset the cost of an FTTH connection which, depending on the territories and pre-existing civil engineering work, could cost in the region of more than €1000? What market share, what change in ARPU can be expected? And what is the return on investment for this new network?
The risk can be moderated thanks to good practices (both marketing and technical) which make it possible to leverage ROI both in the short term and into the future.
The least expensive connection is not always the most profitable, while the most expensive connections are those that only serve very few customers. So of course, the densest zones are often the least expensive to deploy in. But, in terms of services already available, population type, and infrastructure present for reuse, a connection in a less dense area can at times prove to be more rapidly profitable. A geomarketing study of different areas therefore allows you to prioritize the businesses and households that are likely to rapidly switch to FTTH services and that would be willing to undergo the work necessary to install a fibre optic box inside their premises.
The promise of more Gbps alone is not enough to convince a customer to switch to FFTH. As well as speed, what is really important is the service. From HD TV, to catch-up, Cloud services, multi-screens, and smart services, what is offered alongside FTTP must bring real added value. The continuity, quality and speed of service are also essential aspects of the FTTH offer, notably for businesses that are very demanding in terms of guarantee of service.
Deploying a FTTH network end-to-end is certainly not to be improvised. A detailed program enabling coordination across all critical sites must be put into place. Network engineering should take into consideration all marketing and technical constraints. Choice of sub-contractors, as well as their training and management, is key. Work on the horizontal part of the network should be managed in collaboration with public highways management, and in general with local groups and their governing bodies. The mounted connection point in shared buildings requires the agreement of the property management company for existing buildings and the creation of a detailed scope statement for the developers of new buildings. The final connection to the customer is certainly the most critical stage. Indeed, once the fibre has reached corridors or the street, it must be led into all premises, in conditions that are not known in advance, via inexistent channels or ones that have become obstructed over the years. On top of this, this stage can only take place once the customer has chosen to switch their line over to fibre - in other words, as and when sales are made. You should therefore account for one installation per customer, and this installation could last several hours.
In order to support the deployment process, a reliable, tried-and-tested IS should allow for real-time communication between sub-contractors, technical teams, and sales teams, as well as other operators while the network is open. Communication with final customers should focus upon informing them of their eligibility and giving enough advance visibility so as to make them want to wait. ”Fibre is coming to your town”, “Fibre is coming to your area” are ways of showing the customer that the operator is currently investing in order to meet their needs.
In the end, an FTTH investment can really make you stand out against the competition. It is first and foremost a market conquest tool or extraordinary broadband win-back tool. But it is also, thanks to the offers possible alongside it, a lever for reconquest or for building customer loyalty for mobile. Finally, through improved customer satisfaction, FFTH makes it possible to reduce customer churn by more than 10 points compared to the ADSL network.