If an internet connection represents a sensible family saloon car, quad-play services are like a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.
Everything you could possibly need is at your fingertips, and you don’t really need to think about anything since it’s all handled on your behalf.
There’s another similarity as well, since quad-play services tend to be more expensive than anything else you might be quoted for in terms of domestic telecommunications.
Even so, these packages have steadily grown in popularity to become a mainstream option.
But what does quad-play actually mean, and does this concept really benefit consumers more than the providers?
A quad wrangle
Back in the olden days (of 2010), consumers tended to have a mobile contract with a smartphone network, TV from Sky or Virgin, a BT landline and another firm’s broadband.
This messy setup resulted in multiple annual contract renegotiations, and a he-said-she-said blame game if broadband connections developed a fault.
Consumers began migrating towards broadband services and phone line rental from one company, to reduce (or ideally eliminate) such conflicts.
However, mobile phones were taking over day-to-day calling duties from landlines.
At the same time, Freeview’s limited channel choice was being exposed by the wealth of channels on satellite and cable TV services.
There were clear economies of scale for service providers to provide all four of these media and communication platforms.
On-demand streaming and cloud services mean today’s consumers increasingly want to watch content on their phones, or make VoIP calls over the internet.
Technological convergence now means mobile data contracts can perform similar functions to landline broadband, while both can stream on-demand or catch-up TV.
Mobiles have largely supplanted landlines, with the latter primarily used as the underpinnings of broadband services.
Sky, Virgin Media and BT are among the providers offering suites of overlapping services, tempting new subscribers with economy-of-scale discounts.
The business case for quad-play services
Telecommunications firms know it’ll be difficult for a consumer to cancel a contract once everything is bundled into one account.
The hassle of renegotiating new TV, phone, mobile and broadband accounts is enough to deter many people from leaving.
Having attracted quad-play customers with introductory discounts, substantial annual price rises are less likely to cause defections than among single-item contract holders.
Companies also get unprecedented insight into customer behaviour, enabling them to maximise profits by offering curated products and services.
When everything is under one roof, it’s possible to achieve economies of scale in terms of customer-facing workforces (such as installation engineers and contact centre personnel.)
From the customer’s perspective
For many consumers, the convenience of having one contract to rule them all makes quad-play a highly desirable option.
Introductory deals are tempting, as is knowing a single firm is responsible for resolving any faults which arise.
However, the long-term implications of becoming enmeshed in a company’s quad-play infrastructure deserve careful consideration before signing on the dotted line.
Once you’re a quad-play customer, breaking up is hard to do.