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Can Cable Make Inroads With Enterprises?

Alan Breznick

For cable operators, the enterprise market truly represents the final frontier.

Thanks to lower prices, greater flexibility, quicker technology upgrades and better customer care, US cable providers have carved out sizable market share in the SMB space over the last ten years or so, cutting deeply into the share of the dominant telcos. As a result, US MSOs have expanded their commercial telecom services revenues from about $2 billion a decade ago to at least $14 billion last year, as tracked by Light Reading's research arm, Heavy Reading.

In fact, Comcast and Charter, the two largest US cable operators, should each generate 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 much more questionable whether big businesses will also become big business for cable. Although MSOs have scored with small and midsize firms, it's far from certain that they can do the same with larger, more demanding companies, which have hundreds or thousands of employees, multiple locations, much more sophisticated telecom needs and generally aren't all that keen 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 networks, rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 to deliver gigabit speeds to commercial customers and launching more advanced products and services. For instance, Comcast Business introduced a new "carrier-grade" SD-WAN solution for midsize 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.)

How are these various strategies working out so far? What kinds of hurdles are cable operators encountering? What other steps must they 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 next week as our "Future of Cable Business Services" conference returns to New York for the 11th straight year. Leading cable, enterprise, Wall Street and vendor experts will review the industry's latest products, technologies and strategies for the commercial market, explore the promising opportunities that enterprises and other new sectors offer, examine the major technical and operational challenges that operators face and recommend ways to overcome the challenges.

Want to learn more about the commercial market opportunities and challenges for cable operators? Join Light Reading in New York on Thursday, November 30 for the 11th annual Future of Cable Business Services event. All cable operators and other service providers get in free.

Key speakers at the main November 30 conference will include Jeff Lewis, vice president of Connectivity Services for Comcast Business; Satya Parimi, group vice president of data and cloud products at Charter's Spectrum Enterprise; Kevin Stephens, executive vice president of Altice Business; Nomi Bergman, senior executive officer of Advance/Newhouse; Craig Moffett, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson; and Chris Bastian, senior vice president and CTO at SCTE/ISBE. And that's just for starters.

In addition, 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 into the opportunities and challenges that the enterprise market poses for cable operators and foster discussion in a more intimate setting. Speakers will include Glenn Katz, vice president and general manager of Comcast Business, Enterprise Solutions; Stan Hubbard, director of Communications and Research and MEF17 program director of MEF; and Brian Washburn, practice leader of Network Transformation and Cloud Services at Ovum. Click here to check out the agenda.

Plus, following the workshop, attendees will head off to a private suite at Madison Square Garden to watch 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 next week, 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.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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