Cable Business Services

Meeks Sees Business Boom at TWC

NEW YORK -- Future of Cable Business Services -- Time Warner Cable Business Services plans to double its revenues during the next four to five years to hit $5 billion in annual revenues from business customers, its new chief operation officer said here today.

Only 184 days into its tenure as COO and EVP of the business unit, telecom industry veteran Phil Meeks has nonetheless executed a re-organization, a major acquisition, and the hiring of a new chief sales officer. Meeks said Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) now has the market opportunity and the structure to enable rapid sales growth, and only needs to execute on its game plan. (See: TWC Scoops Up DukeNet.)

"It's all about our ability to execute, to take market share one customer at a time," Meeks said.

Most of that growth will take place in the very small and SMB market spaces, where TWC has a very different value proposition from the local telcos against which it competes, Meeks said.

But he also sees substantial opportunities for TWC's wholesale business, particularly in selling mobile backhaul service to wireless operators, and in possibly selling managed services in the small cell backhaul space that would include local powering and construction as well.

And the two things -- selling to businesses and selling to wireless carriers -- are not mutually exclusive efforts, Meeks noted, a bit gleefully. When it wins the cell tower business, TWC is able to deploy its fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT) networks in a way that maximizes the network's usefulness in serving business and taking market share from the very carriers -- think AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) -- that are funding the FTTT build.

"It's a beautiful world when our competition pays us money to take their customers away," Meeks said.

The small cell business will be significantly different and TWC is exploring the option of bundling many of its core assets -- line-powered hybrid fiber-coax networks, pole attachment rights, building access rights and trained technicians in bucket trucks -- into a managed service to support small cell rollouts. This approach is being well-received by wireless operations, Meeks said, and could spur deployment of small cells as early as late 2014. (See TW Cable Eyes Small Cells Too.)

The key thing is to deploy more quickly, and at a lower cost, than the wireless network operators can manage themselves. Those same values are appealing to local incumbent telcos that are moving from legacy TDM networks to IP-based services, Meeks said, and are willing to pay for access to enterprise customers in the last mile.

As the big players such as AT&T and Verizon transition from legacy data networks including frame relay and ATM infrastructures, that migration process is giving companies such as TWC an entrée point to a new customer base, and Meeks said his company will look to capitalize.

Meeks also promised a more aggressive approach to larger customers, capitalizing on TWC's acquisition of cloud service provider Navisite, which significantly boosts the cable operator's market opportunity.

All of this growth is requiring new abilities to scale TWC's business service infrastructure, and that is something that Meeks is working to enable, moving toward more common business practices and processes across the national footprint.

That doesn't mean TWC is surrendering what Meeks admits is the company's biggest asset in the SMB space -- its local service and support resources, which deliver what smaller companies need in a way that incumbent telcos don't, he said.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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