What's Next for European Cable?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
Sweeping changes are rocking the European cable industry these days, prompting cablecos to adapt their approaches or adopt entirely new, often divergent strategies to survive and thrive.
For one thing, several of Europe's largest MSOs are now consolidating their cable holdings in key markets, scaling back their focus to their most profitable, best positioned systems. In the leading example of this strategy, Liberty Global Europe BV is shedding its systems in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania and may soon be selling its Swiss system as well, slashing the number of European markets covered from 11 to six and possibly five. (See Liberty Stages European Retreat and Liberty Global: A Tale of Two Companies?)
At the same time, though, other European MSOs have gone on a shopping spree, scooping up cable assets from the big sellers. The most obvious example is Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which is buying up most of the Liberty Global systems and recently entered into a joint cable venture with Liberty in the Netherlands. (See Vodafone, Liberty Global Form Dutch JV.)
On the technology front, several cablecos are abandoning their legacy HFC networks altogether to go all-fiber as they seek to compete more effectively with the fiber-endowed telco incumbents. The classic case here is Altice , which is now furiously laying down FTTH networks in France and Portugal as well as the US. (See Altice Hails French Recovery as Earnings Rise, Altice Plans FTTH for Entire US Footprint and Altice USA Lights Up FTTH Service in Long Island.)
Yet, even as Altice leads the way down the pristine all-fiber path, various other cablecos are pouring vast new resources into their existing HFC networks as they bulk up to compete that way. This group -- which includes Liberty Global in the UK and Germany, Vodafone in Germany and Spain, com hem AB in Sweden, TDC Group and Stofa in Denmark and, most recently, Eltrona in little Luxembourg -- are rolling out DOCSIS 3.1, pursuing a Fiber Deep strategy, installing Remote PHY or carrying out some combination of the three. (See Remote PHY Moves Needle in Europe and Eltrona Launches DOCSIS 3.1 & DAA With Arris.)
What do all these changes mean for European cable operators? Where will they lead the industry? How can cablecos keep up with the competition? Aiming to answer these and other key questions, Light Reading is launching our inaugural Cable Next-Gen Europe conference in London on November 6 at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel.
Based on our popular Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference in Denver each March, Cable Next-Gen Europe will offer a comprehensive look at cable’s efforts to develop, deploy and monetize new technologies, platforms, products, services, features and applications. Leading European and US cable technologists will examine the industry’s latest tech moves, spell out the strategies behind them, dissect the hurdles in front of them and discuss how to overcome those hurdles.
Specifically, cable tech experts will tackle such timely topics as DOCSIS 3.1, Full Duplex DOCSIS, Distributed Access Architecture, Fiber Deep, FTTH, network virtualization, cloud-based video platforms, streaming video, cable-mobile convergence and others. Both Cable Europe and SCTE Europe are serving as program partners for the event and will supply moderators and speakers.
Featured speakers will include: Mark Burns, HFC Architect, Liberty Global; Anders Bloom, Senior Systems Manager of Broadband, Com Hem; Paulo Valente, Director of Technology Policy, Cable Europe; Tony Gunnarsson, Principal Analyst, Ovum; Frank Miller, CTO, EMEA, Ciena; and Jim Crammond, Senior Director of Operator Business Development, Intel. More speakers are still in the works.
It promises to be the start of a much-needed dialogue about how European cablecos can cope with the rapidly shifting competitive landscape. So please join us on Tuesday, Nov. 6 for Cable Next-Gen Europe in London. We'll make it worth your while.
Hope to see you all in London.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading