After a challenging year with analogue switch-off and a major channel relocation, German cable operator Unitymedia wants to focus on the expansion of its business in 2018, Chief Financial Officer Winfried Rapp told Broadband TV News.
The completion of analogue switch-off in July 2017 led to a loss of €7 million in carriage fees in Q4 2017, Rapp confirmed. Analogue switch-off and the following channel relocation to make use of the vacated capacity also led to slightly higher customer cancellation rates than usual at year-end 2017, partly impacting the 37,000 video RGU’s lost in Q4 2017.
Unitymedia was the first German cable operator to complete analogue switch-off. Other players will follow in 2018, thus facing similar impacts on their business.
But dissatisfied customers weren’t the only reason for the decline in video RGU’s. According to Rapp, a large part is attributed to the loss of a wholesale TV supply contract with a housing company.
Below the line, Unitymedia gained 55,100 RGU’s in Q4 2017, less than in Q4 2016 in which 98,000 RGU’s were added. Another factor Rapp points to for the slower growth is increased competition through aggressive pricing by other market players.
Winning through the cheapest price in the market is not the strategy followed by Unitymedia, stressed Rapp. Instead, the company wants to achieve “sustainable growth” by focussing on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, he said.
In 2018, Unitymedia wants to continue investing in the expansion of its network and the quality of its service. As part of the GigaBuild initiative launched in 2015, the cable operator has added more than half a million new households to its footprint. The target of adding 150,000 new households in 2017 has even been exceeded, according to Rapp. The network rollout will continue this year.
Another focus in 2018 will be the improvement of the customers’ inhouse connectivity enabling the use of mobile TV (Horizon Go) and internet in every room, both wirelessly through Wi-Fi repeaters and boosters and through a powerline solution using a Power Plug.
In Q2 2018, Unitymedia will launch its first 1Gbps internet service based on DOCSIS 3.1 in the city of Bochum, serving to 95% of all local households, with further cities following later this year.