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Active Broadband enables prepaid broadband option

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 1:45pm
Brian Santo

Active Broadband Networks announced a new Prepaid Service System (PPSS) that cable operators can use to offer broadband services on a prepaid basis.

The option to buy prepaid services is rapidly growing in popularity in markets outside the U.S., but Active Broadband believes that U.S. cable operators could expand their broadband markets by as much as 10 percent by offering a prepaid option, according to Stephen Collins, Active Broadband’s vice president of product marketing.

Collins explained that for most operators, adding a prepaid option is likely to include a near-total teardown of operations and business support systems (OSS/BSS). Active Broadband’s PPSS is component of the company’s Dynamic Broadband Service Manager (DBSM), which can be installed separately and which can conduct all the activation, provisioning, and management. It can interface with OSS/BSS systems, but there are no other changes to OSS/BSS required, Collins said.

Once the PPSS system is installed, subscribers can then be allowed to buy a cable modem at retail. When they plug it in, Active Broadband’s PPSS system provides the portal that pops up, activates and provisions the modem, authorizes the standard credit or debit cards customers use to pay with, and manages the service – i.e., subscribe, unsubscribe, and requests for service changes, such as signing up for a higher tier or buying extra bandwidth for a proscribed period (an hour, a day, a week).

“Broadband providers seek to extract as much revenue as possible from their existing network investments,” said Adam Dunstan, CEO of Active Broadband. “Our prepaid solution offers cable operators a highly integrated, cost-effective way to rapidly deploy prepaid services without incurring heavy OSS/BSS development and integration costs, allowing them to address the needs of underserved customers who are not a good fit for postpaid services.”

Cable operators have preferred to market premium services, including bundles. But the broadband market is getting close to tapped out, Collins said, typically somewhere in the 60 percent to 65 percent penetration level.

Cable operators can now address the prepaid market far more easily than they could before, by using Active Broadband’s PPSS product. The potential for growth might be as much as another 10 percent in penetration rate, Collins said.

Service providers can target those consumers who need to get or prefer to get their services on a prepaid basis, and expand offers to people looking to use broadband in second homes, vacation homes, or rental properties.

Going to a prepaid model could also help cable operators compete with DSL. DSL service providers tend to compete on price. Cable operators could match DSL offers on both bandwidth and price, but then the PPSS system allows operators to offer new services, Collins said, such as bandwidth boosts when customers desire it. The system can also handle customer requests to upgrade to higher tiers.   

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