Cable Engineers Fear Fiber's Marketing Appeal

Top cable engineers may insist that they're not all that worried about losing their industry's technological edge to the big regional phone companies. But they're definitely worried about losing their marketing edge to the Baby Bells. That fear clearly surfaced last week at the SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo in San Antonio. Tony Werner, senior vice president and CTO of Liberty Media, publicly expressed the concern at a general session of leading cable technologists. Even though he argued that cable's current hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) networks could match the fiber-rich networks that the Bells are now building, he freely conceded that the telcos' fiber plans could turn many consumers' heads. 'Fiber offers no technological advantage to speak of,' Werner said dismissively. 'Fiber is a sales term.' But, he noted, it could be an awfully effective sales term. 'Even my grandma knows fiber is good,' he quipped, drawing laughs from the crowd. Werner called for cable operators to compete with the phone companies on the marketing front by crafting 'sexy' new names for their networks and products. 'We need to come up with better marketing terms for our networks,' he said. 'FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) impresses people; it just sounds good. We've got to have something that sounds as good or better.'
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