Study Sees Mergers, Customer-Service Spending

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The next year will be marked by "significantly increased investment" in customer service, network infrastructure and Internet-protocol-based services, as well as a wave of mergers involving cable companies, according to a survey released Wednesday by Amdocs, a software and customer-service provider to the sector.

The survey, conducted in August by Frost & Sullivan, asked 200 tier-one and tier-two service providers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada about their business plans for next year. One-third of those indicated that their company will merge with another in the next year.

The results indicated that broadband cable providers will be the most likely to merge. However, the cable providers intend to be the drivers in those deals. The survey results said none of the cable companies projected that they would be acquired by another entity.

The providers indicated that they will be spending heavily to expand services and fend off competition. Nearly 67% of respondents said they will spend on customer-service enhancements, with an average increase in investment projected at 31%.

Spending on digital-TV infrastructure is on top of the to-do list for the next three years. The survey predicted an 81% increase in spending in that category; followed by IPTV (77%), voice over IP (76%) and video content (71%).

Amdocs itself should be the beneficiary of some of that spending. The company provides services such as billing and outsourced call-center management for providers including Comcast, DirecTV, Cable One and AT&T's Project Lightspeed.

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