Cable Will Win

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Cable Will Win

The Telecompetitor spends a lot of space on Chattanooga's muni network - as if it was the perfect model for a Gigabit network. Two problems with it: (1) it cost taxpayers literally millions of dollars via bonds and federal grants and (2) very few people buy Gigabit services from them. It is rare that a muni network will do well. UTOPIA, Wilson's Greenlight, a couple in Florida, ECB-Chatt and Lafayette's LUS are the ones I paid attention to over the years. I have this debate with ISP owners often. I think that when the Duopoly - the cableco and telco - fail to deliver sufficient broadband, then a muni may have to do it.

There are numerous studies about the benefits of a fiber network to a community, including home values, jobs and taxes. Why would any elected official not think that these are goals to strive for even with taxpayer supported bonds?

Verizon has FiOS in some areas and is selling its wireline (including FiOS) in 3 states now. Verizon chose not to compete with cable, but instead to co-market cable in areas that did not have FiOS. This was the deal that VZW made with SpectrumCo, the LLC that owned the cableco spectrum that VZW bought in 2012.

I have been in meetings where AT&T Wholesale has largely admitted that they don't have a product to compete head-to-head with cable. Since then, AT&T has announced a couple of pockets of Gigabit broadband, largely in response to Google Fiber. AT&T also announced pocket upgrades to U-Verse to 75 Mbps

Is it too little too late?

Charlie Reed, Partner at ATLANTIC-ACM, wrote on Telecom Ramblings:

Cable companies will continue to take share in 2015, making strong moves up market. Cableco's share of the business telecom market increased from 4.8% in 2009 to an estimated 12.8% in 2014. Most of this growth came from small businesses. Comcast, the largest cable player, received 78% of its revenue from businesses with under 20 employees in 3Q14. Going forward, cable companies will see growth come from medium and large regional businesses buying Ethernet transport, high-speed Internet access and enhanced voice solutions. The merger of Comcast and TWC would give the combine company added power in the medium- and large-business space thanks to the multitude of on-net buildings they could access.

With VZ selling Florida, Cali and Texas to Frontier, cable wins again. After Frontier takes over a region - like CT from AT&T or the last chunk of wireline it acquired from VZ - there were so many problems that even when cable was losing a sector, it gained it back.

When the FCC changed the definition of broadband to 25 Mbps x 3 Mbps, cable won. It is a gift from President Obama to his golfing buddy, the CEO of Comcast. I am not sure Obama's FCC will give them the big gift of TWC.

Google Fiber is the best marketing play ever made. Every announced city causes the Duopoly agitation.C-Link and TWC have also had to announce Gigabit broadband.

Google has to push and prod the telcos or there will be a single player in the US for broadband - and we have seen how they play with OTT competitors.

Many smaller players are doing pockets of FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) across the US, including Jaguar, C Spire, Sonic, Socket and Ideatek.

If Google and these smaller providers can launch FTTH, why didn't the Duopoly cover the US with FTTH (which is essentially Gigabit Broadband)?

The FCC and state regulators let these guys off the hook - in a big way. Rates were raised to upgrade networks to provide fiber. It's why the Comcast-TWC-Charter deal can't be allowed to go through. even with conditions, the consumers are still screwed, because the FCC has never held a company to its merger conditions. (It didn't hold VZW to the open conditions on the C-Block 700 MHz of spectrum VZW bought in 2008 to use for LTE!)

Muni networks are just a side show to keep the rivals of the Duopoly spinning. It happens so infrequently that it isn't a serious threat. But it does keep people occupied in the Spin Zone. And for that we say, "Thanks for playing. We have parting gifts for you... more taxes, less speed, higher rates."


And while I am talking about Cable Winning, look at Comcast's business division which involves not just business cable triple play, but Broadsoft powered Hosted PBX; CLEC status in a number of states; Metro Ethernet; and more (like PRIs and SIP trunks). It's a $2.4 billion business for Comcast. "Comcast Business Services is the second-largest contributor to Cable revenue growth at Comcast behind high-speed Internet and achieved 34% revenue growth in 2012."

According to Reuters, "The two companies' [TWC and Comcast] sales to businesses of broadband Internet, voice lines and network services already total more than $5 billion, with the growth rate of 20 percent or more expected to be kept up at both the companies' business units." What CLEC has that momentum or revenue?

Reuters notes, "So far, both cable operators generate most of their sales in small-to-medium sized businesses, companies with 20 or fewer employees. However, in the past few years they have made a push for bigger companies with as many as 500 employees."

The next 6 months should be interesting to watch.

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