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Michael Misrahi: Broadband Operators Should Think About Bundling Up

Broadband operators need to simplify and clarify their purpose and the value offered to customers.



The author of this Expert Opinion is Michael Misrahi, EY Americas Telecommunications Leader​.

The latest EY Decoding the Digital Home study found that even when consumers balk at the price of high-speed internet, they’re not ready to say goodbye to the connection. Moreover, the perceived value for money for broadband is holding steady, even with 63% of broadband households concerned over prices.

Inflation is a major force impacting companies and consumers alike. Cost of living increases are driving consumers to scale back overall spend on new connectivity and content experiences, but only 16% of households with broadband connections have reduced or plan to limit spending on home broadband, mobile connectivity or streaming. Regardless of spend, network reliability remains a critical decision factor for consumers, with 26% of respondents experiencing unreliable home broadband connections and a growing number willing to spend more for better customer service (up 6% year on year to 36%) and backup connectivity.

What is increasingly interesting for broadband providers is that economic conditions, consumer habits and maturing technologies have paved a path for the return of the bundle; however, the bundle of the future will have shifted from the classic package of video, fixed voice and internet. Wired and wireless technological advances, as well as emerging economic models and market ecosystems, are revolutionizing the bundle proposition and folding in mobile offerings through captive or mobile virtual network operator services; linear video content, including direct-to-consumer streaming packages (especially with the most recent cable and content negotiations); and other value-added services, such as security and coverage extensions, the consumer is more willing to adopt.

Bundles are much more attractive for consumers and operators alike

These industry trends, coupled with ongoing cost of living increases, are making bundles much more attractive for consumers and operators alike. Bundles can offer the value consumers currently crave. And many broadband providers are uniquely positioned to offer low-cost, convenient packages that combine fast and reliable in-home broadband, evolved video products and/or mobile solutions that are resonating with the market.

For operators reframing their bundles, content has been a big question mark — what content to include and how to package it within the overall offering, especially when considering that consumers have a growing sense of decision fatigue, with 54% of survey respondents reporting being overwhelmed by the abundance of content across platforms. More specifically, for the operator, video currently tends to be accessible everywhere with a subscription (that is, it’s accessible in and out of the home), with direct-to-consumer streaming services channeled by the content providers.

Recent negotiations between major media conglomerates and cable providers signal that this mature, legacy video model is no longer viable; the go-forward model will include tying linear content packages to the direct-to-consumer offering, as well as finding some differentiation in pricing through ad-supported streaming services and/or picture quality (e.g., HD vs. 4K).

In this evolving video landscape, broadband providers first must decide if they want to offer video (or other revenue-generating units, such as mobile) in their propositions and, if they do, how to go about it, for example, offering their own packages — white label offerings — or virtual offerings, such as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor proposition. In some instances, video can be the loss leader, and in others, especially with a new model, it could be margin accretive. Nevertheless, broadband providers need to once again rethink how video fits into the equation.

There are other opportunities to bundle, including with mobile

Outside of video, there are other opportunities to bundle, namely mobile. Broadband providers traditionally limited to cable- and fiber-based products can now expand where only a few operators play, in the integrated wireline and wireless operator space, by building mobile propositions through wholesale arrangements with mobile network operators and/or through hybrid networks.

Similar to customer demand for video content in and out of the home and how video may be converging back to the traditional bundle, communications and broadband may also be converging to a subscription that is in and out of the home and on a singular bill (just in time to meet consumers’ demand for more value out of their providers).

Bundles hold enormous potential for cutting through decision fatigue by offering consumers much-needed simplicity. Providers selling services can justify offering more value to the customer by having a more compelling lifetime value when the consumer utilizes more services. Additionally, from an operating cost perspective, complexity places a greater burden on customer support, which can be eliminated from the customer experience as operators use this pivot point to rethink operating models.

Across the board, operators need to simplify and clarify their purpose and the value offered to customers. Ultimately, within the context of the increased cost of living, broadband providers with the most straightforward and comprehensive propositions may have the opportunity to capitalize on consumers’ growing rejection of complex and fragmented services that increasingly offer unclear value.

Michael Misrahi, is’s EY Americas Telecommunications Leader. The views reflected in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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Broadband's Impact

Missouri’s BEAD Initial Proposal, Volume Two

The state is unsure if any of its $1.7 billion allocation will be left over after funding new infrastructure.



Photo of the Missouri River by Robert Stinnett.

Missouri released a draft volume two of its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposal on November 15.

It was part of a wave of states and territories that began seeking public comment on their drafts in recent weeks. All 56 have now done so.

After a 30-day comment period, states and territories are required to submit their proposals to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27. The proposals come in two volumes: volume one details how states will ground-truth broadband coverage data, and volume two outlines states’ plans for administering grant programs with their BEAD funds.

The Missouri Broadband Office is “not yet able to determine” whether it will have any of its $1.7 billion in BEAD money left over after funding infrastructure projects.

The state is planning to administer two rounds of funding, something the state’s broadband director BJ Tanksley has flagged as being potentially difficult given BEAD’s one year timeframe for grant awards. The MBO said in the proposal a “sub-round” might be necessary if some undeserved and underserved areas receive no applications, and the state might seek an extension from the NTIA.

Missouri is looking to release multiple “advisory figures” for its high-cost threshold, the price at which fiber becomes expensive enough for the state to consider other technologies not favored by BEAD. Cost modeling data will be used for an initial figure before the first round of grant applications, and the number will be updated based on the applications the state receives in each round.

The state will also be using the NTIA’s updated financing guidance, which gives states more options to ensure the financial viability of a project. The new guidance makes room for performance bonds and reimbursement milestones, which tie up less money than the 25 percent letter of credit required by initial BEAD rules.

The agency made the change on November 1 after months of pushback from advocates and lawmakers, who warned small providers could be edged out by the letter of credit.

The public comment period for Missouri’s volume two is open until December 15.

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Broadband Updates

Alabama’s BEAD Initial Proposal, Volumes One and Two

The state is asking for a waiver to open up RDOF areas to BEAD applications.



Photo of an Alabama field, used with permission.

Alabama released a draft of its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposal on November 14.

It was part of a wave of states and territories that began seeking public comment on their drafts in recent weeks. All 56 have now done so.

After a 30-day comment period, states and territories are required to submit their proposals to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27. The proposals come in two volumes: volume one details how states will ground-truth broadband coverage data, and volume two outlines states’ plans for administering grant programs with their BEAD funds.

Volume one

The state is planning to adopt the NTIA’s model challenge process to accept and adjudicate claims of incorrect broadband data. The Federal Communications Commission’s largely provider-reported coverage map was used to allocate BEAD money, but is not considered accurate enough to determine which specific locations lack broadband.

Local governments, nonprofits, and broadband providers are able to submit those challenges on behalf of consumers under the model process. 

Alabama is also electing to use one of the NTIA’s optional modifications to the model process. The state’s broadband office will designate all homes and businesses receiving broadband from copper telephone lines as “underserved” – and thus eligible for BEAD-funded infrastructure. The move is an effort to replace older technology with the higher speed fiber-optic cable favored by the program.

The state will administer two optional challenge types the NTIA laid out: area and MDU challenges. States are not required to use these, but most are planning to do so.

An area challenge is initiated if six or more locations in a census block group challenge the same technology from the same provider with sufficient evidence. The provider is then required to show evidence they provide the reported service to every location in the census block group, or the entire area will be opened up to BEAD funds.

An MDU, or multiple dwelling unit, challenge is triggered when three units or 10 percent of the total units in an apartment building challenge a provider’s service. It again flips the burden of proof, requiring providers to prove they give the reported service for the entire building, not just units that submit challenges.

Alabama’s broadband office is requesting a waiver from the NTIA’s rule around enforceable commitments from other funding programs. The state wants areas set to get broadband from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to be considered unserved for the purposes of BEAD.

That fund, the state argues, has a deployment deadline too far in the future – six to eight years to BEAD’s four years – and is too prone to defaults to be a reliable alternative to BEAD.

Volume two

Alabama does not expect to have any of its $1.4 billion BEAD allocation left over after funding broadband infrastructure.

The state is planning to award that money in a single round of grant applications, but may administer a second, according to its proposal.

Like most states, Alabama won’t be setting a high-cost threshold before looking over all BEAD grant applications. That’s the price point at which the state will look to non-fiber technologies to serve the most expensive, hardest to reach areas.

Alabama’s broadband office is seeking comment on using the NTIA’s updated financing guidance, but plans on implementing it.

That updated guidance allows options which tie up less capital, like performance bonds. BEAD rules initially required a 25 percent letter of credit, which advocates and lawmakers warned could prevent small providers from participating in the program. 

The public comment period for Alabama’s initial proposal is open until December 14.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Connect20 Summit: Data-Driven Approach Needed for Digital Navigation

The NTIA’s Internet Use Survey doesn’t delve deeply enough into why people choose not to adopt broadband.



WASHINGTON, November 20, 2023 – Better data about broadband adoption is necessary to closing the digital divide in the U.S., a broadband expert said during a panel at the Connect20 Summit here.

Speaking on a panel about “The Power of Navigation Services,” the expert, Jessica Dine of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said states lack comprehensive data on why some residents remain offline. This information is essential for digital navigator programs to succeed, she said.

She highlighted the need for standardized national metrics on digital literacy and inclusion, and said that federal surveys – including the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey – provide insights on barriers to technology adoption. But more granular data is required.

She also said that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Internet Use Survey doesn’t delve deeply enough into why people choose not to adopt the internet. For instance, understanding the nuances behind the ‘not interested’ response category could unveil targeted intervention strategies.

In particular, Dine praised Louisiana and Delaware for surveying communities on their connectivity needs, including overlaying socio-economic indicators with broadband deployment data. But she said more work is required to quantify the precise challenges different populations face.

Other panelists at the session, including Michelle Thornton of the State University of New York at Oswego, emphasized the importance of tracking on-the-ground efforts by navigators themselves.

Bringing in her experience from the field of healthcare navigation, Thornton underscored the value of tracking navigator activities and outcomes. She suggested a collaborative model where state-level data collection is supplemented by detailed, community-level insights from digital navigators.

The panel was part of the Connect20 Summit held in Washington and organized by Network On, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and Broadband Breakfast.

The session was moderated by Comcast’s Kate Allison, executive director of research and digital equity at Comcast.

To stay involved with the Digital Navigator movement, sign up at the Connect20 Summit.

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