Cincinnati Bell's Fox: Fiber makes us more competitive with cable in the SMB, commercial space

Cincinnati Bell may be well down its path of completing its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout to 60-70 percent of Cincinnati homes by the end of next year, but the build is already helping it compete more effectively against cable in the small to medium business (SMB) space.

Speaking to investors during the 43rd Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, Leigh Fox, CFO of Cincinnati Bell, said now that it has been extending fiber into more businesses as a complement to its residential Fioptics build Cincinnati Bell has a weapon to either win back or gain new customers that could previously only get slower speed copper-based services from the telco.

"Where cable will see success is in commercial and SMB and I think they have a competitive product," Fox said. "To be candid, I think they have been more competitive on the small business side because of their products and we're now becoming more competitive with the deployment of fiber."

The other question is, what about larger businesses?

Cable operators like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and its soon-to-be competitor Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR) have been working to build out their fiber networks and provide offerings tailored to larger businesses. Charter just launched, a website offering content and information about solutions for mid-to-large sized organizations, while Comcast has set up a new division targeting the specific needs of larger business customers.

Serving a mix of businesses within and without its traditional footprint, Cincinnati Bell says it already has a wide lead over cable operators in the larger enterprise space. Besides having strong relationships with existing enterprise customers, the service provider can deliver a host of solutions that include not only the network pipe, but also network management and hardware.

"On the enterprise side it's hard because it's a different dynamic -- it's very relationship driven," Fox said. "The pipe is a commodity so you're not going to walk into the CIO and say, 'I have a great deal,' but you're going to have to combine it with a lot of other things, which I think is the uniqueness within Cincinnati Bell."

Taking a solutions-based approach, Cincinnati Bell's CBTS division can offer larger businesses a host of cloud-based services, unified communications, IP voice, network hardware and call center services.

"I think what's becoming more popular is the one neck to choke," Fox sad. "The way I think about it is, if I am the CIO it's about solving problems for that person and we can come in and help build solutions that take a lot of the back office and deployment of storage and bandwidth off of them so they can think about how to strategically support the CEO and the business."

For more:
- listen to the webcast

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