A few weeks ago, I had the honor to attend the annual Xfinity Analyst Day event in Philadelphia located at both the Four Seasons Philadelphia hotel and the Comcast Technology Center. Thank you to Joel Shadle and team for inviting me and for the insanely wonderful hospitality. As we think about consumer needs and wants, the instant economy demands innovative customer experiences that cater to individual and contextual personalizations, and this is exactly what Comcast is doing with a suite of solutions, products, and services around broadband, WiFi access, Mobile services, and Content. I will share a few highlights of the day's activities below.
Dana Strong, President Xfinity Consumer Services, kicked off the event and shared a great summary of the Comcast/Xfinity innovation journey. Xfinity's primary focus is to push for differentiation around product innovation. It was clear throughout the event that Comcast is fully focused on positioning Xfinity Internet as its primary product; and counts around 26 million residential customers for the service as of Q219, compared to 22 million video customers and 1.4 million Xfinity Home customers. The trio of innovation areas include speed, coverage and control for broadband. Upcoming and new solutions include bringing Hulu to X1 customers in the first quarter of 2020, along with innovation around WiFi with Xfinity xFi Pods WiFi Extenders and a home suite that is fully integrated and searchable by voice with options for adding home security (#smarthome 1.4M home security customers), and innovation around the X1 cloud DVR and remote services. X1 is a platform of platforms with companies such as Cox, Shaw, Rogers all using it as the foundation for their video products.
In addition for homes today, it is all about speed as we are consuming more streaming video than ever. In fact Dana mentioned Xfinity customers used 6 billion video on demand hours along with 9 Billion voice commands in 2018 alone. Innovation is also an area being explored within Xfinity Mobile, where the company serves 1.6 Million mobile lines and is currently expanding LTE with their partnership with Verizon. Family Gig packs (Unlimited and By the Gig packs) or bundles allow payment plans and options to add in home monitoring for existing broadband customers. It is important to understand that only Xfinity Internet customer can get Xfinity Mobile services.
A great amount of innovation is centralized around the entire entertainment experience, which requires robust broadband and tools that can be leveraged with voice automation and an open system with access to services such as Netflix, Xumo, Pluto, Amazon Music, iHeartMusic, Amazon Prime video, YouTube, and again Hulu coming in Q1. Customers can use voice search across the entire ecosystem, not just linear tv, while search results default to free/complimentary and displays where you left off and recommends based on your history.
This innovation around entertainment does not happen without a sound high-speed broadband experience. Tony Werner, President of Technology & Product at Comcast Cable, shared additional innovation details around its broadband and WiFi solutions. With 17 different speed upgrades over the course of 18 years and a strong portfolio of patents with 400 currently pending and 20 million WiFi hotspots, the company is well positioned to leverage these assets to a strong base of residential customers and drive business to the B2B market moving up market from a strong SMB base. A great stat was shared...there are currently 58M homes today that have access to 1Gbps broadband by Comcast today.
Other innovation details shared by Patti Loyack (VP of IP Services) and Rui Costa (VP of Product, Design and CX) include some of the following:
Lastly, I will wrap up by sharing more around innovation specific to customer experience (cX). Charlie Herrin, Chief Customer Experience Officer for Comcast Cable, shared additional details around making the customer experience their best product. He shared four main components to personalized automation (Xfinity Assistant) including IDENTITY, INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION, PROACTIVE 2-WAY DIALOG, and CLOSING THE LOOP. Both self-care and administration are areas where Mr. Herrin is building out services and solutions.
Some highlights include:
These short-list (many others taking place) of improvements have brought about tens of thousands of predictive recommendations produced via IVR for better servicing customers and reduction of calls into the call center, along with billions data elements captured daily. Many customer issues have been contained in the Xfinity Assistant, which has reduced agent handled chats substantially. This customer-first and simplicity approach is sure to enhance the overall customer experience and drive retention for residential clients.
This summary does not include all the interactions and sessions attended, but provides a great review of things to come and the innovation in process and coming down the pipeline. It was clear throughout the event that Comcast is fully focused on positioning Xfinity Internet as its primary product; and counts around 26 million residential customers for the service as of Q219, compared to 22 million video customers and 1.4 million Xfinity Home customers. As part of this analyst day, we were also treated to product demos, Comcast Technology Center Tour, the Universal Sphere experience, and a great networking reception and dinner with showcase labs and interactions with executives. Thank you again to Comcast and the Xfinity team of executives and team who prepared and put this event together. I look forward to witnessing continued innovation and enhancements across the Xfinity portfolio.
Written by: Stephanie Atkinson, CEO of Compass Intelligence
By Stephanie Atkinson, CEO CompassIntel/Chair IoT6
www.5gamericas.org | @5GAmericas
Last week was the annual 5G Americas annual Analyst Forum held in Dallas, Texas. The event was kicked off by the Chairman and CTO of T-Mobile US, Neville Ray (@NevilleRay). Just a few highlights to start off with regarding Neville's keynote, which clearly showcased the global and nationwide competitive angle 5G is being championed for and towards (also heard at MWCA in LA).
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND 5G
One of the first sessions I sat in on was focused around the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to 5G and future growth in IoT. Ericsson is utilizing AI tools and software to improve their radio access network (RAN) specific to configuration and optimization, while Samsung mentioned heavily investing (see Softbank news on AI investments) in AI at the cloud level to support in new customer experiences (cX) and improve video content services (noted example of having video content follow users). Cisco's perspective was a bit different as they are looking at AI to support in new learning algorithms (inference and information theory) around operations, as well as using AI tools and software for social impact initiatives. Lastly, Sprint mentioned leveraging AI to improve data quality, enhance machine learning tools, generating automatic code, and simplifying for categorization (think automated text categorization, read more here). Sprint also mentioned there may be a challenge with the human input and training is an issue.
5G AND ENTERPRISE IoT
On the low band, 5G is expected to support in scaling massive IoT, specific to low latency connected and sensor solutions, specific to industrial, infrastructure, operations, and even smart cities. The use cases revolve around asset tracking and monitoring, fleet tracking and monitoring, some transportation and container tracking, and applications specific to agriculture, factory automation/manufacturing (mass production), and others.
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) has been a focus for companies like AT&T, as they made announcements this year. As shown earlier, the carriers all have different approaches to device roll-out, yet 5G smartphones is not expected until mid-2019. On another note, there are some upcoming changes to 5G devices and antenna placement. Devices may have 3 to 4 mmWave antennas as part of 5G enhancements, and this will help to manage hand cover up issues from a user experience perspective. Qualcomm mentioned that some devices still have 2G, and that the OEMs they work with are choosing what bands to include in the devices. The 3G to 4G shift was more concentrated around power management, while that will not be as much of an issue for the shift from 4G to 5G. New RF modules will be an area of focus for 5G devices. This session had participants from Qualcomm, Samsung, and Sprint.
5G, MORE USE CASES
Focusing beyond MBB, the industry participants mentioned we need to look above and beyond broadband and smartphone devices. Sprint is focused around the mid-band, so 5G smartphones is key to their 5G strategy. Sprint is currently looking at the partnership model for 5G use cases. The foundational use cases are centered around mobility and fixed wireless. Many are in the exploratory stage from an ecosystem perspective and are seeking support from partners, research analysts, advisors, and customers. Carriers will be seeking use cases to better monetize traffic, as current smartphone revenues and the growth trajectory remains fairly stable or flat. Consumer is behind overall, and Enterprise is leading in 5G use cases at this time. Smart cities is an area to explore as well, and CityBrain (by Alibaba) was mentioned as a good use case to explore in terms of true ROI.
MY TWO CENTS
Related 5G Research and Reports:
5G Optimization: Mobile Edge Computing and Network Slicing 2018 – 2023
Voice over 5G (Vo5G) Market
5G Security Market: Technologies, Solutions, and Market Outlook 2018 - 2023
A few weeks back, we discussed where we are today with the two waves of "The Connected Vehicle." 1st we focused on bringing WiFi and 4G/LTE to the vehicle. Now let's jump into the power of the Autonomous Vehicle, the 2nd wave.
According to Techopedia, the definition of Autonomous Vehicles is, "An autonomous car is a vehicle that can guide itself without human conduction. This kind of vehicle has become a concrete reality and may pave the way for future systems where computers take over the art of driving. An autonomous car is also known as a driverless car, robot car, self-driving car or autonomous vehicle."
For many out there, these concepts are so far out there that is is challenging to understand what this means to both us as consumers, as well as industry and businesses. Let's call the market AV for short, since we will be discussing scenarios throughout this blog. The AV market has the chance to disrupt industries in the transportation marketplace, as well as disrupt the way goods and services get transported and delivered throughout the world. Before we get too technical, lets focus on what this really means to us as consumers, consumers who drive our vehicles every day to work, school, leisure places, and events.
Below are some real-world scenarios on how AV will impact the consumer, imagine this...
Recent Related News on AV:
For further reading, please check out the related blog regarding the 1st wave of The Connected Vehicle.
For more information, please visit our RESEARCH page to explore other technologies and market indicators.
Written by Stephanie Atkinson, CEO of Compass Intelligence, LLC
Covering hot topics in the industry, new research, trends, and event coverage.