NEW YORK -- The Future of Cable Business Services -- Can cable companies attract more large enterprise business by doing a better job of interconnecting their networks to provide out-of-region coverage? (See Cable's Cut of the Biz Services Pie to Eclipse $7B .)
Andy Striegler, VP of carrier services for Rogers Business Services, a unit of Rogers Communications Inc., thinks so. He used his keynote address here on Thursday to urge U.S. cable companies to more fully develop their wholesale businesses in order to move further up the business services food chain and compete with telcos and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) for major business customers.
Striegler believes cable is giving up too much of its potential business with larger companies that have multiple locations to incumbent and competitive telcos that have been interconnecting their networks for years, and have developed standards and business processes for doing so.
Striegler is hoping the cable industry will adopt its own approach to interconnecting networks to enable each other to serve the many larger businesses that require out-of-region connections. He appealed to the cable players here to enter into such interconnection agreements with Rogers to the mutual benefit of both sides.
"Moving up market we get into enterprises such as banks with services across the country, and we have to address issues of network coverage, and the fact we don't have that coverage everywhere they want to go," Striegler says.
The idea received mixed reviews from three companies that addressed cable's move into the enterprise market in a panel following Strieglerâ€™s speech.
Darren Wolner, director of data product management for Time Warner Cable Inc., said his company is getting more aggressive in selling Carrier Ethernet services on-net and off-net, but called Striegler's idea "something that we aspire to," but aren't likely to do for some time.
Will Jones, partner in MainSpring360, a consultancy in customer experience management, thinks cable companies will move toward interconnection more quickly as they start pursuing more enterprise business and "realize what deals they are losing" by not being able to quickly and easily serve locations outside their footprint.
Daniel Lowe, VP/GM for EdgeConneX Inc., an infrastructure-as-a-service firm backed by Comcast Ventures, agreed with cable's need for smoother interconnection, but sees the execution as "challenging" and warned of possible antitrust issues. He agreed that moving into larger enterprise sales will require a broader footprint.
Striegler wants cable companies to interconnect their networks in a way that provides end-to-end visibility, and offers quality of service that meets their customer needs.
"It's all about customer experience -- how do we make sure you are going to look after our customer out-of-territory the way we want you to?" he said.
In an interview after his keynote speech, Striegler said successful interconnection comes down to business processes and established business agreements, and that's what he is looking for from U.S. cable operators. The physical network-to-network interconnections (NNIs) are already well-defined by groups such as the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), but the business deals still need to be made. Cable operators need to make it simple for other carriers to interconnect with established pricing and integration of ordering processes.
Striegler sees cable getting a bigger piece of the US$140 billion business revenue pie -- he claimed as much as $100 million would be addressable -- if operators establish more business agreements for interconnecting networks and selling wholesale services to each other.
"We have been at this quite a while and we have learned quite a bit from working with companies like Shaw [Communications Inc.]," he said, referring to one of Canada's other major cable operators. "We have gone from 17 Gig-E interconnects to more than 60. Our customer is the carrier, not their end customer. We are not probably winning all of their business in our territory -- they've got our pricing but might get better service order intervals from another carrier."
By working closely with Shaw, however, Rogers is able to align its Carrier Ethernet products so that instead of reselling a plain vanilla service, it can deliver more features, without requiring custom engineering for every interconnection.
â€” Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading