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Cable Ops, Vendors Sharpen Commercial Focus

The cable industry's interest in the burgeoning commercial services market, a long neglected sector, is clearly heating up this year. At an SCTE Cable-Tec Expo breakfast in San Antonio Thurs., executives from Charter, Bright House Networks and Rogers Communications outlined efforts to build up their fledgling commercial portfolios. They discussed initiatives to sign up sole proprietors, hospitals, medical practices, coffee shops, retail franchises, schools, municipal agencies and other businesses and organizations as customers. Stephen Snyder, senior partner at Accenture, spelled out the market opportunity for cable. He said SMBs, which employ about 45% of the North American work force, spent an estimated $75 billion on data and telecom services last year. But he noted that cable operators, who passed the $1 billion mark in commercial services revenues in 2004, now capture less than 2% of that growing total. Snyder added that commercial VoIP service represents an especially promising opportunity for cable. He also noted that many companies are now just stepping up to broadband service. 'A lot of the new money is clearly in voice,' he said. 'A lot is switching from dial-up or ad hoc services to broadband.' Snyder urged cable operators to plunge into the commercial services business more aggressively. He especially urged MSOs to launch commercial telephony products soon if they haven't done so already, estimating that operators have no more than a 12-month to 18-month window to make inroads into the market.
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