News

Why Cable Should Go Wireless

4/26/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Given the demands of today’s
video customer, where is mobile broadband
in the cable operator’s strategic
playbook?

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are
selling their own branded 4G services;
Bright House Networks has also invested
in wireless. Cox Communications
has its own
wireless strategy.

Expanding the cable
package to include mobile
seems increasingly
less a matter of if, and
more a matter of how operators
can successfully
incorporate a new product
line into the bundle.
I remember well from
my days at MediaOne
Group the challenges
when we launched data
in Los Angeles. Customers
had to be convinced
that we were a viable high-speed Internet
provider, and employees had to
be trained and motivated to sell a fundamentally
different service.

Wireless has become a minimum
ante to compete. Upticks in connected
devices, data usage and application
downloads all reflect consumers’ thirst
for communication, information and
entertainment on the go.

The proof is compelling. Mobile data
traffic in North America is expected
to skyrocket 117% annually during
the next five years, to more than 773
Terabytes per month in 2014, according
to Cisco Systems. A key driver will
be growth in connected devices, like
the iPad and HTC EVO, which Morgan
Stanley estimates will be 10 times larger
than it was for fixed services.

The Internet is a part of our daily
lives, and we want it with us all the
time. This is one of the most compelling
aspects of 4G. A 4G connection is
the first mobile broadband technology
optimized to deliver high-bandwidth
services, like video, that demand a
robust connection to provide the rich
experience consumers find on wired
connections.

What benefits does a “quadruple”
play offer? First, mobile cable operators
have something new and exciting
to offer at a time when
growth in other services
is leveling.

Second, it brings the
next-generation subscriber
through the door.
Today’s 20-year-olds have
had a cellphone in hand
since adolescence and
they assume they should
be able to download anything,
anywhere.

Then there are the opportunities
to marry wireless
and fixed services, such
as remote DVR programming
via smart phones,
real estate on-demand videos delivered
to a mobile laptop and others.

Increasing the connections between
mobile and wireline services give consumers
the impression that it is a single,
convenient service package, rather than
a set of unrelated products that can be
dropped on a whim.

Customers who have a service bundle
that is more usable and more convenient
recognize the additional value. So putting
mobile broadband on the short-term cable
road map not only boosts growth,
but also puts operators in a position to
strengthen their customer relationships.

The bottom line is this: Cable content
needs mobility, and there are avenues
to help cable make that connection. Cable
operators now have the opportunity
to seize control and build a stronger
product to compete in a multi-connected
broadband world.


Teresa Elder is president of strategic
partnerships and wholesale at Clearwire.
October
November