The new switching channels

The new switching channels

Jan Zwang about an old-fashioned mechanism behind progress

Wave and pay for groceries, watching a series in the train, online shopping in virtually every store in the world – the things we do today with a mobile phone, without really giving it much thought, were unthinkable ‘yesterday’. We are racing forward. This is not triggered by a single invention or brilliant idea, but rather by something I’ve seen before.


Antennia. That was the name of my father’s shop. He sold radios and television sets, ‘brown goods’ they were called in the sixties. The devices were finished off by wood, hence the name. As early as the age of six, I lent a hand in and around the shop. I learned how to deal with customers and witnessed the joy if we managed to mend someone’s TV again. In those days a screwdriver and a bit of skill was often all it took. Or some tinkering with the antenna, on the roof. The screen was black and white and most TV sets didn’t even have channels. You had to find them by turning a knob, as you did with the radio. The luxury sets did have pre-set channels, but you still had to get up from your chair to switch them.

I clearly remember how these TV sets suddenly changed – almost overnight it seemed. The wood vanished, together with the term brown goods, and was replaced by synthetic materials. Thanks to a remote control you could simply relax and stay in your armchair. And the screen, a wonder of the world, was in colour! The modern devices were expensive, but an event in Germany boosted demand. The World Championships soccer in 1974. Everyone wanted to see this tournament and with such a magical colour TV you could watch as if you were there on the stands. From that historic moment on, it was impossible to imagine life without a colour television.

Jan Zwang

In today’s digital era I notice the same phenomenon. A number of things coincide, reinforce each other, and the momentum created propels us forward. It is a cumulation of things. The high-quality networks, mobile devices with unrivalled powers, the accompanying thriving app industry, and of course the booming video on demand industry with companies like Netflix. O, and let’s not forget mobile payments. That also fuels the digital transformation. On its own, none of these innovations can exist. They need each other and together they form an unstoppable revolution.

No need
And this revolution has only just begun. We were the first to introduce 5G in the Netherlands and we are going to enable all our customers to access 1Gigabit. Due to these huge upgrades in capacity, the possibilities will increase too. For what? There is this great short video made by Frans Bromet in 1998, when he asks people if they want a mobile phone. The unambiguous answer: ‘No need for that.’ Equally great: ‘I already have an answering machine.’ The range of possibilities the mobile phone unlocked, could not have been foreseen by anyone. The same applies for the additional capacity we offer. You may still think ‘why should I need that’, but believe me, things can change fast, especially with more and more innovations coinciding.

One thing is certain, little by little this progress is making our life better and easier. Paying with coins and notes? So inconvenient, we have now started to realize. Buying tickets for the train, tram or a parking spot? Such hassle. It is so the modern version of getting-out-of-your-chair-to-switch-channels.

Jan Zwang is Senior Manager Market & Customer Insights. Together with his team he provides VodafoneZiggo with valuable information: needs, opinions and behaviour of customers, and all opportunities ensuing from that.  

See the short video made by Frans Bromet beneath: