By Ben Bawtree-Jobson, CEO at SiFi Networks.
For several years now, a revolution has been slowly building momentum in the battle for internet services being supplied to the home. For decades, consumers have been faced with either a monopoly or duopoly in the form of just a telco and/or cableco offering to their homes. As in any other unregulated monopolistic industry, this has resulted in higher prices for consumers, poorer customer service levels and lack of investment in infrastructure. In short, the customer has paid the price and suffered when compared to the rest of the developed world.
Unfortunately, the barriers to entry for anyone willing to compete have been exceptionally steep, with TV products and content being owned or exclusive to the cable TV companies and the vast amount of capital required to build out separate competing networks, but all of that is changing drastically.
The doom and gloom of yesteryear is over. For years, small networks and internet service providers have been nibbling at the edges of the big incumbent service providers, scrapping and fighting for customers in underserved markets. I don’t phrase it in this way to belittle their efforts — far from it. It’s this environment that has created hundreds of lean, agile and customer-service-focused internet service providers.
Small ISPs are further boosted by the ever-increasing rate of cord-cutting, with streaming services becoming more and more mainstream. Another old barrier to entry, content licenses, is being eviscerated, with content creators and owners such as Disney going directly to customers over the internet via services such as Disney+. Now, all the ISPs lack is the network to reach and compete to win those subscribers, and for that, they need capital or ready-made networks open for them to use.
Cue the entrance of a new way