The surging smart home market is opening up exciting new opportunities for internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver essential value-added services, but maybe not in the ways you’d think.

For decades, ISPs have lived and died by the different tiers of speed and bandwidth they offer consumers. It was a relatively simple metric for success: How well can your company package, market, and deliver a range of speed and bandwidth options to suit different consumer needs?

But the times are changing, and more and more consumers are equally concerned with more than just speed and bandwidth. Today, ISP customers are increasingly fearful of cyber security risks and privacy breaches, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) and all of the newly connected devices people are bringing into their homes and connecting to the outside world.  

The opportunity for ISPs

The smart home industry is growing and growing fast. Analysts forecast the market to expand globally by 26.9% in 2019 and it doesn’t end there. By 2023, 1.6 billion smart home devices are predicted to ship annually. One thing is clear: consumers around the world are utterly infatuated with internet-connected lights, blinds, appliances, door locks, and more.

At the same time, consumer anxiety about privacy and security with regards to smart home devices is also growing and growing fast. According to an F-Secure survey of nearly 20,000 people over the course of three years, 46% of respondents said they’ve refused to buy a smart home device because of security concerns, while 48% said they haven’t bought a smart home device because of worries about their personal data being leaked.

What does this suggest? One way of looking at these two seemingly opposed trends is to recognize a clear opportunity for ISPs. Since consumers have a strong desire to adopt smart home devices, providers that are able to allay the security and privacy fears consumers have about those devices will win out over ISPs who fail to be proactive.

Still unconvinced? In the same F-Secure survey quoted above, 60% of respondents said they would buy security and privacy services directly from an ISP.

How ISPs can take advantage

Although some ISPs can already argue that their fiber cabling is more secure, partnering with an established cyber security provider is likely the most efficient option available. The internet security landscape is constantly changing and attempting to build your own IoT security services in-house and keep them at the leading edge of the cyber security industry would be a monumental undertaking.

By joining forces with a cyber security partner, ISPs can quickly offer a range of protection capabilities for their customers. At the technical level, this includes leveraging new IoT security technologies like more robust authentication of M2M (machine-to-machine) interactions, better encryption for data in transit between edge devices, and even installing complete X.509 digital certificates onto devices that don’t already utilize it.

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With the right partner, an ISP can provide its customers with optional value-added security packages for their home network of IoT devices. Not only will these services deliver additional revenue to the company, they can also help differentiate the company from lagging competitors, as well as improve customer loyalty.