August 26, 2004
A Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) win could spell trouble for Net2Phone Inc.'s (Nasdaq: NTOP) push into cable telephony.
Sprint picked up a cable-telephony contract with Mediacom Communications Corp.. At least one analyst, Ari Moses, an analyst with Blaylock & Partners, says it could be a sign that cable companies won't be playing into Net2Phone's business model.
"This decision by Mediacom is a meaningful competitive loss for NTOP," Moses writes in a note to clients. "This decision leads us to question whether NTOP can close deals with the other top tier-II providers."
A carrier in its own right, Net2Phone began packaging its services for sale under the Net2Phone Cable Telephony brand in October. Other providers, including 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT) and Vonage Holdings Corp., are trying a similar tactic, offering their prepackaged services to cable providers (see CommPartners Plays Host to MSOs).
But by going with Sprint, Mediacom seems to be snubbing that model, instead going with a "build" model, Moses writes. That's because Sprint's offering adds crucial telecom features such as 911 service to a carrier's own telephony buildout.
There's good news to be had, though. Mediacom's contract is further evidence of cable providers' interest in telephony, a general trend that ought to help Net2Phone. And Moses does expect Net2Phone to pick up a "meaningful share" of the outsourced cable telephony market. The only problem is that the company "has yet to deliver a meaningful slate of customers," he writes, noting that it's announced six deals, with only Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico having deployed.
Net2Phone floated a $58.5 million stock offering in November to fuel its push into cable. Participating investors included IDT Corp. (NYSE: IDT) and Liberty Media Corp. (NYSE: LMC), owner of Liberty Cablevision (see Net2Phone Raises $58.5M). Blaylock Partners was one of the stock offering's underwriters.
Net2Phone officials were not immediately available for comment. The company's stock was down 16.5 cents (5%) at $3.17 in midday trading on Thursday.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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