Cable Tech

Wave7 Research's Jeff Moore on the keys to cable's mobile success

With pay-TV in decline and broadband subscriber growth slowing, it would seem things are tough all over for US cable operators these days. While traditional pay-TV might be a lost cause and there's hope that cable broadband subscriber growth will start to pick up some steam, it's abundantly clear that mobile has become cable's new and emerging bright spot.

Comcast and Charter Communications are coming off record third quarters in which they added record mobile lines. Altice USA is still finding its way in mobile. Cox Communications has reentered the game in a big way. And WideOpenWest's partnership with Reach Mobile might create a blueprint for other small and midsized cable operators to follow.

Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, keeps close tabs on all things mobile, including cable's activities in the market. He attributes cable's success so far in part to scale, simplicity, affordability and a solid local retail presence.

"First of all, they have a very large customer base, and they're able to exploit that," Moore explained on the Light Reading Podcast. "Another underlying piece of their success ... has been $30 per month family unlimited lines. That's very affordable. It's hard to imagine calling the large cable companies disruptive but they have been in terms of pricing of $30 per month unlimited."

Moore also believes that US cable's local retail presence is an under-appreciated component of its mobile strategy.

"It's brightly lit, people are well-trained. So it's a very different customer experience," Moore says. "They're ready for mobile now in a way that they weren't 15 years ago."

A case in point, he says, is Cox Communications, whose mobile service is now available system-wide. "Had you landed from Mars, you could be forgiven for believing that Cox was a wireless company and not a cable company, because signage was absolutely pervasive throughout the store."

You can download a lightly edited transcript of the podcast here. If you want to skip around and listen, here are a few topics discussed during this podcast:

  • Moore discusses mobile background and the focus of Wave7 Research (00:45)
  • Moore expands on "Junior Cable," a term he coined to describe a segment of the cable market poised to make a mark in mobile (2:39)
  • Moore discusses the ingredients that have led to cable's success in mobile so far (4:00)
  • Why retail is an underappreciated part of cable's mobile strategy (6:50)
  • Moore's takeaways from Cox Communications' new foray into mobile (8:30)
  • How rural cable ops and orgs such as the NCTC are poised to enter the mobile arena (10:00)
  • Are incumbent mobile network operators feeling the heat from cable? (13:30)
  • Can US cable continue to get away with relatively simple "no-frills" mobile packages? (15:00)
  • Moore's thoughts on why and how some cable companies have built ad campaigns targeting fixed wireless access (18:00)
  • Offload strategies offer compelling economics for cable ops, but they are still years away from making a big difference (21:15)

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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