Craig Thomas takes the helm as Broadband Forum CEO

The Broadband Forum announced Craig Thomas will be its next CEO as the standards group continues to advocate for an industry-wide transition to services-led networks that prioritize user experience.

Thomas has been with the forum since 2020 as its VP of strategic marketing and business development.

“The broadband market is increasingly more competitive and offering different types of broadband connectivity options, and network operators are jostling for position. Those marketing speed as the only differentiator are missing a trick,” Thomas wrote in a recent blog post.

The Broadband Forum creates open standards and open-source software for fixed and wireless-wireline technologies to promote multi-vendor interoperability and establish certification programs for industry standards, architectures and best practices. In July, Broadband Forum and FBA announced a partnership focused on developing and educating the broadband industry on best practices. They said the agreement will also broaden support for “ubiquitous broadband service delivery.”

In his new role Thomas will continue to advocate for service-driven networks. To become more dynamic, he said broadband networks should offer “service-aware and application-appropriate” quality of experience (QoE), with networks adapting and prioritizing traffic in case of congestion.

“This will become even more important as the industry caters for all the users within the connected home such as the video streamer, the gamer, the smart home device user and the homeworker,” Thomas wrote.

Putting user experience at the forefront could present an “ideal opportunity” for operators to boost average revenue per user (ARPU) and create fresh revenue channels by providing value-added services alongside their broadband packages.

“For example, by targeting the increasingly diverse connected home subscriber, operators can offer personalized broadband packages where the user, such as a gamer, may be more willing to spend funds on greater QoE and lower latency, which they value more than just the speed of a connection,” said Thomas.

With Thomas as CEO, the Broadband Forum and its members will focus on driving “a broadband ecosystem that end-to-end has increased service differentiation, intelligence and agility from the cloud all the way to the user's device.”

“Open standards and open software are critical to how operators will build these new, efficient networks,” he added.

Last year, the organization published 39 new standards, test plans, marketing reports and open software releases.

“As operators rise to the latest challenge of services-led broadband, we will once again respond, ensuring every standard we work on has this industry trend in mind,” said Thomas, adding the forum “will ensure any new projects cover not only technical benefits but also consider the business models needed to ensure operators can benefit from agile, multi-service future broadband networks.”

Thomas’ term as CEO will start in January 2024, following current Managing Director Ken Ko’s retirement. His experience in the telecom vendor and service provider industry includes roles at Calix, Tellabs, Tiscali UK Business Services, Cosine Communications, Ericsson and Alcatel / Newbridge Networks.