Reach deals broadband operators into the prepaid game

Reach, a company that is already helping ISPs add mobile to their service bundles, has introduced a new digital platform that enables its partners to market and sell prepaid home broadband services.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

May 21, 2024

3 Min Read
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Reach is extending its platform deeper into the prepaid world.

Reach already provided a platform to help small and mid-tier broadband operators get into the mobile game. Now, the company has added capabilities to help ISPs develop and launch prepaid home broadband services.

The new, expanded offering called Reach Easy provides some of the key plumbing to enable prepaid services, such as service management and linkages into the operator's provisioning system (for service sign-ups) and global information system (GIS) platforms/databases (to determine serviceability).

The approach, which also includes the consumer interfaces and apps, effectively creates a "parallel stack" for the prepaid offerings, said Reach CEO Harjot Saluja. In turn, that stack bypasses the legacy systems, such as the underlying operations support systems (OSS) and billing systems, that operators use for postpaid services, he adds.

Reach's prepaid platform is agnostic to the access network, Saluja said, explaining that it can be adapted for fiber and cable broadband services as well as satellite broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA) offerings.

Reach's white label approach is designed to enable its partners to offer prepaid services under their regular brands or new, "flanker" brands that focus on that part of the market.

Hitting on a trend

Reach Easy is surfacing as prepaid services start to extend well beyond mobile.

Comcast, for instance, first introduced prepaid home broadband about 12 years ago but recently expanded its prepaid capability under the "NOW" brand. In addition to home broadband, Comcast's prepaid NOW portfolio also includes mobile and pay-TV services.

The prepaid model for home broadband is becoming a bigger focus among ISPs amid the likely demise of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Prepaid broadband might appeal to some low-income households or households that do not qualify for a postpaid service. The prepaid model also gives consumers the ability to purchase services on a weekly or monthly basis or, if necessary, pause services temporarily.

But a big challenge for broadband operators lies in developing and deploying back office systems that support the prepaid model.

Reach has white-labeled that capability across the customer journey – from the acquisition pieces to ongoing support, including billing and customer care, according to Saluja. Reach also has built a library of customer focused email and text message templates that its partners can customize for various instances, such as when prepaid service becomes available or to confirm that service has been activated.

The operator is effectively creating a "broadband virtual network operation on top of their network," Saluja said. "You're becoming your own customer, so to speak."

He said Reach uses a per subscriber/per month business model, plus a one-time onboarding fee.

Though the company is just now announcing its new prepaid play for broadband operators, one yet-to-be-named broadband operator has been up and running on it since the third quarter of 2023, according to Saluja, using a version specific to that particular client.

Reach has since completed other integrations tied to provisioning systems and serviceability systems that are more generic and focused on the broadband business. Those serviceability systems, for example, can be integrated with a broadband operator's fleet service management software to cover individual households or apartments/multiple-dwelling units.

More Reach Easy deployments are in the pipeline, Saluja said.

Mobile momentum

Reach already has a presence in the small and midsized US cable market. In 2023, the company cut a mobile agreement with the National Content & Technology Cooperative, an organization that negotiates programming and tech agreements on behalf of about 700 tier 1 and 2 US cable operators and telcos. TVS Cable and Breezeline are among the first to offer mobile services via the NCTC's agreements with Reach and AT&T.  

Reach has separate mobile deals with WideOpenWest (WOW) and Astound Broadband to deliver mobile services on the T-Mobile network.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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