As we move into the age of IoT, smart home services are moving from theory to practice with many tier 1 telecom operators already launching their Smart Home packages. For example, AT&T provides three “Home Security Packages” in US to meet different levels of security and automation requirements; Rogers offers “Smart Home Monitoring” service in Canada so that their customer can arm and monitor their home via smartphone apps and online portals; O2 has launched a new service named ‘O2 Home’ in London, which alllows people control their heating, lighting, locks and more from their mobile phone; and DT’s white label smart home offering is available in Slovakia through Slovak Telecom.
With a plethora of different smart home scenarios, players from various industries are placing their bets on this market; ranging from the Wi-Fi chipset provider, household appliances player, building automation vendor and technology giants such as Apple, Samsung and Google. So… what is a “Smart Home”? The Smart Home is a home or building that is equipped with a special connected platform enabling its occupants to remotely control and program an array of automated home electronic devices1. According to a Nokia insight report, the main interface platforms being used are Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee, where these three interface types represent 72% of all protocol chips shipped in 2016. When looking to enter the smart home market, there are four main use cases for operators to consider, which are “home security service”, “home automation”, “smart metering” and “digital health services”.2
Telecom operators with its inherent advantages of broadband connectivity, household based customers, sales and support networks are well positioned to offer compelling smart home services to bring in new revenue streams and ride the IoT wave. At the same time, telecom operators are facing new types of market competitors and unforeseen risk with the move into uncharted territory.
From the telecom equipment vendor perspective, strategical expansion of the smart home product portfolio could help catch up with the operators as well as developing more vertical market clients. However, the following questions needs to be taken into consideration:
- Where’s the rigid customer demand? Which of the four use cases mentioned above should be targeted?
- How to avoid homogenization and low-end competition? Instead of simply connecting the home appliances and making them controllable by APP, can the vendor offer value-added and practical solutions with good user experience?
- Smart home solutions will be integrated into users daily life. If the systems are hacked or fail, it will bring great inconvenience to customers. Therefore, what can be done to ensure product security?
- How to position the company in this market?