How do you say “it’s been some year” in German? In French? In Italian or Spanish?
No matter what language they’re speaking, European broadband providers all are facing the same issues as we close in on the last couple of months of 2020. Like their counterparts in the United States and throughout the world, they’re seeing significant demands being placed on their networks as populations continue to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though European consumption this year declined about 10% between the initial lockdowns of Q1 and the more relaxed policies of Q2, median per subscriber usage was still up 37% – to 148.6 GB – when comparing 2Q20 to the 108.3 GB of 2Q 2019. And with cases on the rise again on the Continent, we can expect our 3Q20 and 4Q20 OpenVault Broadband Industry reports to reflect continued high numbers.
Even before S&P Global predicted that a lengthened pandemic could impact operators’ capital spends, our OpenVault team had created a playbook for increased activity in Europe and the broader EMEA market. Our most recent announcements – of the launch of a wholly-owned subsidiary, OpenVault Europe and a new relationship with a major German customer – have come as we intensify our efforts to deliver SaaS solutions that can improve business results for current and future customers across the region with minimal CapEx outlays.
To be clear, Europe’s networks have already cleared some significant hurdles. The reduction from HD/4K to standard definition by Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ and even YouTube relieved early pressure. Cable, fiber and mobile operators such as Vodafone made infrastructure improvements, reduced repair times and increased streaming caches to improve performance. Tele Columbus implemented new customer service strategies during the first half of the year that it credits with raising NPS scores for its PYUR brand.
In the long term, however, operators know that the persistent rise of traffic, the growing number of power users who consume 1 TB or more per month, and the increase in subscriber devices connected to the Internet all can impact online experiences. There’s a clear and growing need for visibility into usage patterns and implementation of tools that can reduce or eliminate traffic bottlenecks, increase consumer satisfaction, and – in some cases – to drive revenue. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation has noted in particular that COVID-19 exposed the risks of the shared infrastructure model more common in the European Union.
I’d like to close by saying that in our 10 years as providers of technology solutions and data analysis, we’ve never been more impressed with the broadband industry globally than we have been over the past seven months. Whether they offer broadband, Breitband or banda larga, the challenge ahead for operators is to continue to implement tools and services that can keep networks and customer experiences sharp as usage continues to ramp upward – during the pandemic and beyond.