Partnering, Bundling Can Stave Off Broadband Cord-Cutting

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – As the number of connected devices in the home expands, the threat of consumers cutting their broadband cord increases, but operators are not powerless in the battle to grow and retain customers, according to a session at the NCTC Winter Educational Conference here Tuesday (Feb. 13).

Parks Associates senior director of research Brett Sappington said that connected devices in the home have increased from just over eight in 2015 to 9.2 in 2017, and consumers are demanding higher and higher bandwidth to accommodate that equipment. At the same time, he said that about 12% of U.S. households are mobile-only.

Read More: Additional Coverage of the NCTC Winter Educational Conference

Sappington said the consumers most likely to go mobile-only aren’t surprising – they are mainly younger people who have been in their homes a short period of time. Price sensitivity is also an issue. Customers of the least expensive wireless services like Metro PCS and T-Mobile are more likely to go mobile-only (about 12% of Metro PCS and 11% of T-Mobile wireless customers say they would go mobile only, compared with 7% for AT&T and 5% for Verizon wireless customers).

As unlimited wireless plans and zero-rating for video continue to proliferate, so does the drive to go all mobile. But fixed service has speed, throughput and latency advantages over wireless, according to Sappington.

He added that loyalty for existing broadband subscribers is pretty high – about 50% of consumers that have both a fixed and mobile service say they will absolutely not switch, according to Parks Associates research.

Cable operators can continue to battle the mobile-only threat by doing what they have been doing in the past – partnering with wireless service providers, bundling services, providing access to OTT options and offering premium WiFi options.

“Bundling still works,” Sappington said, adding that operators have to “learn to live with mobile services, and how we can evolve or strategies to include the reality of mobile data in our packages.”