Cable CTOs Tee Off on Telco TV

ATLANTA -- National Cable Show -- Cable network CTOs are getting competitive pressure from the nation's big phone companies, but they insist their ability to bundle services and their hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks will help them ride out the storm.

Speaking here on Monday, four cable CTOs said they can lock up large numbers of subscribers with service bundles and long-term agreements before the telcos can even offer their cocktail of voice, video, and data in most locations. (See AT&T Readies Lightspeed in North Texas.)

“Nobody argues that they [telcos] can’t do video,” said Cox Communications Inc. CTO Chris Bowick. “What they can’t do is bundle customers... The bundle is really what it’s all about. In the markets we are selling voice, video, and data bundles, we have dramatically reduced churn."

“There’s nothing they can do that we can’t do,” said Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) CTO David Fellows. “The difference is we have a way to grow into it... as the market demand takes us.” (See IPTV Put to the Test.)

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) CTO Michael LaJoie even went so far as to say he'd prefer his network to a telco greenfield, where fiber could be deployed. “Yeah, I do, and one of the main reasons is because it exists,” he said. LaJoie claimed his company’s IPTV trial in the San Diego market is going smoothly, but said nothing about plans to extend the trial. (See MSOs to Fight IPTV With IPTV.)

“I think the telephone companies are kind of backed into a corner -- they know they can’t do it with twisted pair so they are going with the fiber,” Cox’s Bowick said. “These guys are good strong competitors, and they’ve got a hell of a lot of money to throw at it.”

Comcast’s Fellows gives credit to the phone companies for creating excitement around their fiber plans. He says the telcos have been more effective than the cable industry about selling their IPTV plans “on Wall Street and in Washington.”

“Yeah I feel threatened by them," Fellows says. "They have almost 95 percent of my telephone customers." But, in the spirit of the panel, Fellows took a jab at the telcos plans, noting that even fiber to the home wouldn't go far without cable. “Turns out it is not fiber to the retina, or even fiber to the TV, it is fiber to the side of the house and then they use the cable inside of the house to deliver the content,” Fellows says.

Time Warner’s LaJoie, like the others, finally reached the point of crankiness when the subject of IPTV came up for perhaps the third time during the Q&A. “IPTV is just a buzzword. It’s just like freakin’ fiber. It's a silly discussion.”

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

FiberFan 12/5/2012 | 3:57:37 AM
re: Cable CTOs Tee Off on Telco TV While the arguments will persist on the viability of RBOCs successfully delivering IPTV, the smug comments of the MSO execs sound very familiar.
I vaguely remember the RBOCs saying roughly the same thing about the MSOs when the cable boys wanted to offer high speed internet and (GASP!!) telephony services. For competitions sake, I hope the RBOCs are successful because the arrogance and price gouging of the MSOs has reached the former level of the BOCs.

Your thoughts??
dashnerp1 12/5/2012 | 3:57:01 AM
re: Cable CTOs Tee Off on Telco TV While IPTV definitely has its limitations those are easily overcome with a fat pipe. I find the comment about using the in-house coax very curious. I am confused because what difference does it make? The homeowner doesn't care if you are delivering that episode of The Sopranos over a piece of a closet hanger as long as the signal is clear and reliable. That is about a silly a comment as an exec can make. My company has been delivering BUNDLED services for over a year now - something that our HFC competitor has yet to do. So this whole discussion is rather defensive and childish. Copper plant is a hurdle that only technology will resolve but then again I remember growing up with only 3 TV stations too.
ip-eng 12/5/2012 | 3:57:01 AM
re: Cable CTOs Tee Off on Telco TV Time WarnerGÇÖs LaJoie, like the others, finally reached the point of crankiness when the subject of IPTV came up for perhaps the third time during the Q&A. GÇ£IPTV is just a buzzword. ItGÇÖs just like freakinGÇÖ fiber. It's a silly discussion.GÇ¥

Statements like these show that they're finally noticing that this is going to be somewhat of a threat to them. I wonder if they've already started loosing sleep over this (just like the Telcos did when Cable started providing HSI and home phone service).
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