Showing just how much of a priority business services growth has become for the cable industry, two of Canada's largest MSOs are rolling out new broadband products for their commercial customers.
In separate announcements on Thursday, the two major Canadian MSOs, Shaw Communications Inc. and Cogeco Communications (Toronto: CCA), unveiled their latest initiatives to pull in more commercial subscribers and keep them locked in. The moves come as North American cable operators of all stripes and sizes are stepping up their business services efforts to stoke further growth as their long-time main revenue driver, video services, continues to slow down under stiff competitive pressure. (See Comcast Takes Ethernet Everywhere.)
Shaw, one of the two biggest Canadian cable operators with more than 3 million total customers mainly in the western half of the country, said it will offer a new "Managed WiFi" solution for hotels, inns, resorts, conference centers and other hospitality customers, starting in January. Shaw said the new product, which is actually an upgrade from Shaw's current managed WiFi product, will be a customized, turnkey service featuring complementary site design and analysis to determine the optimal WiFi solution for each property, "enabling the customers and visitors to experience a fast and reliable Internet experience."
Shaw Business SVP John Piercy said the MSO is taking this step because of the importance of WiFi services to guests at hotels, conference centers and other hospitality venues. "Consumers rank Internet connectivity and WiFi availability as critical factors in making hospitality choices, and poor Internet experiences dramatically lower the chances a guest will visit a hotel or conference center ever again," he said in a prepared statement.
Cogeco, the fourth-largest cable operator in Canada with about 800,000 overall subscribers in Ontario and Quebec, announced increases in broadband download and upload speeds for its commercial customers, starting December 1. Depending upon which broadband package customers have, data speeds will climb as high as 120 Mbit/s downstream and 20 Mbit/s upstream for no extra charge.
In addition, Cogeco will introduce a new, low-end broadband package, known as Business Launch, for smaller firms next week. The new package will offer download speeds up to 20 Mbit/s and upload speeds up to 10 Mbit/s. The MSO already offers three other, higher-tier commercial Internet products -- Business Select, Business Premium and Business Ultimate.
We'll have a lot more to say about the growth of both the hospitality sector and commercial WiFi at our annual Future of Cable Business Services conference at the Westin Times Square in New York on Tuesday December 2, where service providers such as Charter Business , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) will be providing insights and updates on the business services sector. (See Pics From Future of Cable Business Services.)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading