Cablenets see future in mobile

CTAM EuroSummit 12 – Vienna. Cable operators interviewed for the latest Solon Management Consulting/CTAM Europe study into cable futures have identified next generation TV and mobile services as the next drivers of growth.

The 40 participants interviewed for the study between them represented 50 million RGUs across 11 countries. They anticipated a strong revenue growth of approximately 5%, though slightly down on previous surveys.

Growth from TV was said to be smaller than in previous years, with an acknowledgement for the first time that basic subscribers were being lost, particularly to IPTV operators.

Nevertheless, 86% pointed to next generation TV as a key topic with 50% looking to mobile and 47% the perceived speed advantage held by cable.

Commenting on the figures, Marcel Nijhoff, COO, Ziggo, said the growth in broadband was coming not from broadband itself, but when the service was sold as part of a bundle. “I was surprised that the survey did not indicate earlier that we would face a loss of subscribers, because we could see that coming. But what we also see is a very healthy ARPU growth. To be realistic you cannot be everything to everybody.

CTAM president Char Beales said that in the US video customers had been lost in four out of the last eight quarters. “You’re defined by basic cable customers, but we have a multifaceted product, just that we haven’t convinced people to measure us that way.”

As a former telco executive, and now presiding overdone of the few European cable operators to offer mobile telephony, Melita CEO Andrei Torriani was in a good place to judge on the potential of mobile. But he said the cultural mindset had been wrong in its perception of what the customer required. “This is a totally different mindset, they want to walk out of the shop with a service that works. We had to start looking at the consumer perspective,” he said. “Ask yourself why Vodafone isn’t more successful in TV and the answer is the same they view it from a certain mindset.”

Diederik Karsten, EVP European Broadband Operations, Liberty Global, said operators needed to be ready to compete. “The politicians say that the new capacity is for new entrants, but who is going to compete against a Deutsche Telekom and a Vodafone. Mobile is a big opportunity and if you start to compete you better be ready.”