Dr. Manuel Cubero is member of the Management Board and Chief Operating Officer of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG, the operator of Germany’s largest cable network.
He is responsible for the company’s Sales, Technical Operations, Customer Service, IT as well as for Content.Manuel will be speaking at the Cable Congress 2014 event taking place in Amsterdam on 12-14 March 2014.
2013 was a year of change in the industry, including for Kabel Deutschland with the acquisition by Vodafone. Can you tell us a bit about how you see the competitive landscape for the European cable industry evolving?
Manuel Cubero: If the acquisition of Kabel Deutschland by Vodafone proves only one point, it is this: you cannot do without fixed assets. The European cable industry should be reassured.
In addition, the European cable industry will increasingly be looked at when it comes to showing how exactly “convergence” can, in fact, create value. In my opinion, we can be the ones liberating this fuzzy concept from consultants and turning it into reality – maybe in new and surprising ways?
In order to do all this, we need to keep working as an industry on getting the right regulatory framework in place: one that truly supports the digital economy and breakthrough innovation through fair competition between infrastructures. In this regard, the further consolidation in our industry will continue to play an important role.
Are Europe’s regulators getting it right vis a vis promoting fair competition?
MC: In general the European regulatory framework and its implementation by European regulators have been heading in the right direction. It has enabled the much desired and fruitful infrastructure competition throughout Europe.
Cable with its vast investments in superior networks and innovative products has been an essential driver of this competition. Telco incumbents have had to find answers visa-vis the challenge by cable and, in particular, cable’s landmark high speed broadband offers. This has led to accelerated investments in incumbent telcos’ own networks which, in turn, has been very beneficial for Europe’s digital economy.
Regulators might want to keep in mind this recent success when thinking about regulating alternative infrastructures or shifting the regulatory paradigm towards symmetric regulation. This would only be in the interest of former telco incumbents and may endanger past and, more importantly, future investments in alternative infrastructures.
From an operational standpoint, what do you think will drive cable’s growth as we look at the state of the industry 2014?MC: To be perfectly honest, even though you might not like this “boring” answer: more of the same.
As an industry we have been working tirelessly on improving our products, year after year, upgrading our value proposition. Developments such as Liberty’s Horizon box or our own endeavours of turning the customer premise equipment into Wi-Fi hotspots are such examples: We need to continuously prove to our customers how great it is to be a cable customer.
Last, but certainly not least, we will continue to work on our operations and flawless execution. In our call centres, for example, we have had very good success in ever improving customer experience, increasingly using customer care as a very successful sales channel and pushing down costs. We need to continue to do all three at the same time. These three goals are no opposites, they actually support each other.
You’re moving into a new role as CEO of Kabel Deutschland. Can you tell us a bit about your vision for the company and what your strategic priorities will be?
MC: First and foremost, our key priority is to deliver what we promised stand alone. We cannot afford to let go in terms of our continued sales success, driven by the most competitive products in the market, flawless operations and great customer experience. We have agreed with Vodafone that this is our first, second and third priority. We cannot have our daily stand alone business lapse because we get distracted by preparing for a later integration. Our competitors seem to bet on this happening. We better prove them wrong.
After having a profit and loss agreement in place, the remainder of our strategic focus will be of proving that the combination of a great mobile player and a great cable company can create additional value. First and foremost, we need to prove this to our customers. We need to be able to show each and every customer what‘s in it for him or her.
Why is cable such an attractive business model for investors?
MC: Cable is very resilient vis-a-vis changes in the economy and cable provides steady, predictable cash flows.
In addition to all that stability and predictability, cable provides tons of growth opportunities. Given our technology edge and the speed reserves we have, this is nowhere near the end.
Our goal as an industry should be to continue to deepen this attraction: nowhere can investors get a stable and huge oil-tanker and a flotilla of agile and aggressive speed boats, all at the same time.