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Ethernet services

TWC's Outlook: Cloudy, With a Chance of Ethernet

NEW YORK -- The Future of Cable Business Services -- Providing Ethernet connections "everywhere" and booting up cloud computing services are on Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s roadmap as it looks to push deeper into the small- and mid-sized (SMB) business market, said Denisse Goldbarg, VP of marketing and training for TWC's Business Class unit during her keynote here Thursday afternoon.

Another item on the MSO's SMB agenda for 2010 is mobile broadband. TWC plans to leverage the residential WiMax service it offers via its partnership with Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), which has already resulted in service launches in markets such as Dallas and parts of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro. The MSO also plans to offer its "Road Runner Mobile" WiMax service in Hawaii. (See TWC Sets First WiMax Launch and TWC Revs Up 'Road Runner Mobile' in North Carolina.)

"Mobility is becoming critical" for SMBs, Goldbarg said.

She also highlighted an "Ethernet Everywhere" strategy that involves delivering Ethernet services over fiber, where TWC has already laid its optical cables, and using Docsis technologies over its extensive hybrid fiber/coax plant.

With that dual-strategy in place, "we can offer [Ethernet] to any business on our network today," Goldbarg said.

Goldbarg didn't go into much detail about TWC's cloud computing/software as a service (SaaS) strategy, but did note that the plan involves bundling applications with the communications services it will offer to SMBs. Companies in that category "don't want to be IT managers," she said, claiming that the MSO is well positioned to step in and manage that role for them.

Cable's limited window
Although MSOs are becoming increasingly poised to steal business services revenues from their telco rivals, fellow panel member Taylor Salman, solutions marketing director for Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), warned that cable has a limited window of opportunity to penetrate a "virtual monopoly" that telecom operators enjoy. "Now is the time to start to steal market share away from the LECs," noted Salman.

However, corporate culture, not technology, is the "biggest hurdle" cable faces when it comes to its pursuit of commercial services cash, Salman said, noting that MSOs can be successful only if their enterprise service activities hold the same priority as their residential operations.

But he acknowledged that several cable operators are looking to expand their commercial sales staffs significantly in 2010. "That's at least a start," he said.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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