ISPs should be doing deals with content sites to share network revenue and provide service level agreements (SLAs) for consumers based on "content experience", according to Juniper Networks.
Failing to do so puts ISPs at risk of being marginalised as suppliers of commodity bandwidth, the report warns.
ISPs will have to learn to talk to users in terms of the experience they can expect from their connection, rather than in bandwidth numbers.
While some ISPs will be happy to become commodity access suppliers, most are chasing a higher value strategy, according to Juniper.
The latter should be looking at the content their customers are accessing and asking how they can add value.
Juniper's survey of over 5,000 broadband users in Europe shows that a large proportion of respondents access the internet for multiple purposes, such as email, social networking, internet telephony, IPTV, banking, gaming and shopping.
Each type of application requires a different level of service. Juniper suggests that ISPs should use the knowledge they have of the application a customer is using and transparently provide the bandwidth required for an optimum online experience.
Consumers could then buy a basic 'best effort' level of access which would be fine for email, shopping or banking, for example.
Or they could buy a higher level with a 'micro-SLA' which guarantees a satisfactory experience when using high-bandwidth applications such as IPTV or online gaming.
"Where there is an SLA there is value, and where there is value there is margin," Paul Gainham, EMEA director of service provider marketing at Juniper, told vnunet.com.
Juniper's suggestion flies in the face of current ISP marketing which offers flat-fee bundles based on a bandwidth figure.
It also implies that ISPs which attempt to make their own site a consumer destination by aggregating content are pursing the wrong strategy.
ISPs should strike revenue-sharing deals with content providers and market their services to consumers not in terms of megabytes but in terms of the performance they can expect from specific types of content.
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