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Cable Hearts Philter

Michael Harris
The Philter
Michael Harris
7/24/2006

8:00 AM -- Well, The Philter is out this week getting some well earned R&R and left the inmates running the asylum. Somehow Raynovich approved of this march toward mayhem.

Interestingly, The Philter, (with hair standing on end) handed over the reins on Friday with the message I Heart Cable.

Knowing how much The Philter loves his blog, in Huckabee-like fashion, I summoned some psychology professionals to unearth the unconscious motivations behind Phil's cable-friendly sendoff. Thankfully, top-notch assistance was available for only $1.60 per minute. In that New York minute we were able to discern that deep in his cranial cavity, The Philter may be concerned that his beloved Bells will not withstand the ever escalating onslaught by U.S. cable MSOs.

Undoubtedly, Phil stumbled across the results of the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Residential All-Distance Telephone Customer Satisfaction Study released earlier this month. From the press release:

    The study, which measures customer satisfaction with both local and long distance telephone service, finds that cable companies rank highest in customer satisfaction in five of six U.S. regions. In 2005, just one cable company--Cox--led any of the regional customer satisfaction rankings. Cox Communications now ranks highest in three regions, while newcomers Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable each rank highest in one region. Verizon is the sole traditional telephone company ranking highest in a region.
That said, even Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is on the ropes. While Verizon won top marks in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Bell finished fourth in its critical Northeast market, trailing Cox Communications Inc. , Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC). Cablevision already has 20 percent penetration for residential telephone service, battling head-to-head against Verizon in the New York area.

A report this summer from investment bank Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. found incumbent telcos lost 8.8 million lines in 2005 and are on track to lose 6.8 million access lines in 2006. Some 3 million will be lost to cable alone, with most of the rest lost to wireless and broadband substitution.

When it comes to Ma Bell, perhaps cable has a classic Oedipus complex? We'll have to check back with our psychoanalysts for an answer. Hey, it's only $1.60.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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Michael Harris
Michael Harris
12/5/2012 | 3:47:35 AM
re: Cable Hearts Philter
Total US cable phone customers are now well over 5 million, so we'll find out soon. One would think service quality may actually increase as MSOs continue to work any kinks out of what remains a relaitively new business for most of them.

In terms of customer satisfaction psychology, MSOs probably benefit from being the alternative provider, that is, the one freeing the consumer from the monopoly incumbent. Also, cable's flat-rate local and LD pricing may be a feel-good factor.
sfwriter
sfwriter
12/5/2012 | 3:47:35 AM
re: Cable Hearts Philter
About two months ago, Cox debuted on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for fixed line telephone service, with a score of 76. That was five points higher than AT&T and BellSouth, with a score of 71.

The professor who runs the index -- which rates customer satisfaction rates across a wide range of consumer goods -- said it was very unusual for a newcomer to debut at number one.

The one difference, though, is that Cox and other cable providers have far fewer voice customers than Verizon and AT&T. Do you think customer satisfaction will remain high once the number of customers reaches the tens of millions for each provider?
alchemy
alchemy
12/5/2012 | 3:47:34 AM
re: Cable Hearts Philter
rjmcmahon asks:
Do you know how many of these lines are digital, IP-based ones vs. TDM lines picked up from CLECs during previous mergers/consolidation?

The bulk of the TDM lines are with Comcast and are what used to be AT&T Broadband. These customers get their service using proprietary TDM-based voice over cable from Arris, Tellabs, and ADC. The traffic terminates at #5ESS switches that are owned by AT&T... now a direct competitor to Comcast. Cox owns a bunch of DMS-500 switches and has a fairly long and successful history of operating as a CLEC. Pretty much all the MSOs have some amount of this legacy cable telephony product but all new residential customers are being placed on PacketCable VoIP platforms. I haven't looked recently but there still must still be well north of 1 million subscribers on the TDM service. Cable VoIP should be crossing 4 million pretty soon if it hasn't done so already.
rjmcmahon
rjmcmahon
12/5/2012 | 3:47:34 AM
re: Cable Hearts Philter
Total US cable phone customers are now well over 5 million.

Do you know how many of these lines are digital, IP-based ones vs. TDM lines picked up from CLECs during previous mergers/consolidation?
Michael Harris
Michael Harris
12/5/2012 | 3:47:33 AM
re: Cable Hearts Philter
Total U.S. and Canada cable VoIP subscribers now exceeds 4.5 million. There are 2.5 million or so circuit-switched (TDM) cable phone subs, mostly through Comcast and Cox. So, the grand total is over 7 million. Note that cable VoIP is via the PacketCable NCS protocol, a derivative of MGCP, rather than via SIP infrastructure.
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