Quad-play bundling slow to take off in Asia Pacific

Action still restricted to fixed services

Full quad-play bundling will be slow to take off in the Asia Pacific region with the real action restricted to fixed services in the near term.

Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said fixed and mobile businesses are still managed separately by many operations in the region, and the move to customer-focussed structures is slower than other more advanced markets like Europe.

"This is associated with the relatively low level of bundling compared to Europe", Kennedy added.

Apart from the split between fixed and mobile marketing, Ovum also identified differences between advanced economies and emerging economies in the region.

"In advanced Asia-Pacific markets the most common strategic driver for offering service bundles is concern about customer retention," he said.

"Fixed operator strategy is to retain voice customers, and upsell broadband and content to them."

As a result fixed-to-mobile substitution (FMS) looms large as a threat, leading to a prevalence of fixed dual- and triple-play bundling.

Kennedy said this strategy is common among incumbents in advanced markets.

In contrast, in emerging markets the broadband and content markets are immature but fast growing, and bundling has not yet become important.

"True quad-play remains relatively unpopular in the region and we expect this to remain the case for some time", he said.

Based on Ovum's research, Asia-Pacific bundling has unique features, as compared to other regions.

In contrast to Europe, fixed telephony rather than broadband is often the central product of bundled offers by telecommunications operators, especially incumbents.

Kennedy said bundled offers are often 'stacks' with voice at the bottom, a broadband option on top and a TV offer on top of broadband.

"Voice still drives a lot of customer decision-making, though this may change in the future as cheap VoIP becomes standard and the consumer focus shifts towards broadband and content," he said.

"Overall, bundling is less common and intense in Asia-Pacific than it is in Europe, due to lower competitive pressure from resale and cable-based rivals."

Kennedy said regulatory restrictions on bundling are still important, especially in some advanced markets.

Meanwhile, the newly elected Labor government's broadband plans are in disarray following Telstra's announcement it will not play ball and support the government's joint network plans.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, plans to jointly build and integrate the OPEL rural WiMax plan with its own national Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network.

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Sandra Rossi

Computerworld

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