There's no question that business services have become big business for cable over the last decade. As tracked by Heavy Reading, commercial telecom services have soared from about a $2 billion revenue generator for US MSOs in 2006 to at least a $14 billion bonanza last year. In fact, Comcast and Charter, the two largest US MSOs, will each haul in up to $6 billion in commercial services revenue this year if current trends hold for the fourth quarter.
But, while business services have generally become big business for cable, it's not clear yet whether big businesses will also become big business for the industry. While cable operators have fared quite well with small and midsized firms, it's still an open question whether they can duplicate that feat with larger, more demanding companies with hundreds or thousands of employees, a multitude of locations, much more sophisticated telecom needs than their smaller counterparts and not necessarily the most favorable views about the quality of cable service.
The largest cable operators in the land recognize the challenge at hand. That's why they've been ramping up their business services units with more enterprise experts, adding more fiber links to their plants, targeting DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts to the commercial sector and launching more advanced products and services. For instance, Comcast Business introduced a new "carrier-grade" SD-WAN solution for midsized and large enterprises last spring and Charter Communications Inc. 's Spectrum Enterprises unit announced plans to do the same just last month. (See Comcast Woos the Enterprise With SD-WAN and Charter Touts Gig Plans as Earnings Slide.)
In their pursuit of the enterprise market, several major cable operators have also rebranded their business services operations to avoid the perceived stigma of their parent company names. Hence, the former Cablevision Systems adopted both the Lightpath and Optimum brands for its business services units while Charter has adopted the Spectrum brand. In addition, several large MSOs have split their business divisions in two, with one unit focusing on small and midsized firms and the other on the biggest companies.
How well are these various strategies working so far? What kinds of hurdles are cable operators encountering? What other steps do they need to take? Where do they need to focus their efforts right now? And what are their general prospects for success?
We will tackle all these questions and more later this month as our "Future of Cable Business Services" conference returns to New York for the 11th straight year. In what promises to be the event's biggest and best edition yet, leading cable, enterprise, MSO partner, Wall Street and vendor experts will review the industry's latest products, technologies and strategies for the commercial market, explore the great opportunities that enterprises and other new sectors offer, examine the major technical and operational challenges that operators face in pursuing these opportunities and recommend ways to overcome the challenges.
Key speakers at the main November 30 conference will include: Jeff Lewis, VP of Connectivity Services for Comcast Business; Satya Parimi, group VP of Data and Navisite for Charter's Spectrum Enterprise; Kevin Stephens, executive VP of Altice Business; Nomi Bergman, senior executive officer of Advance/Newhouse; Craig Moffett, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson; and Chris Bastian, senior VP & CTO at SCTE/ISBE. And that's just for starters.
In addition, for the first time, Light Reading will offer a special half-day workshop on the enterprise market as a bonus for a select group of cable operators and other service providers on November 29, the afternoon before the main conference. Co-hosted by Amdocs, this exclusive, free session, entitled "Digital Strategies for Enterprise Customers," will delve deeply into the opportunities and challenges that the enterprise market poses for cable operators and foster discussion and debate in a more intimate setting than the main conference. Speakers will include: Glenn Katz, VP and general manager, Comcast Business, Enterprise Solutions; Stan Hubbard, director, Communications & Research, MEF17 Program Director, MEF; and Brian Washburn, practice leader, Network Transformation and Cloud Services, Ovum. Click here to check out the agenda.
Plus, once the workshop formally concludes with a networking reception, attendees will all head off to a private suite at Madison Square Garden for a night of NBA action as the New York Knicks take on the Miami Heat. That means there will be even more opportunities for discussion and networking for those who can make the workshop. Sounds like a slam dunk, eh? But better sign up now because the workshop and suite seats are limited and going fast.
So please join us in the Big Apple three weeks from now, just in time for the lighting of the big tree at Rockefeller Center. Sign up for Light Reading's Future of Cable Business Services event on Nov. 29 and 30 at the Westin Times Square in the heart of midtown Manhattan. What better way to kick off the holiday season?
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading