Cincinnati Bell says pending Charter/TWC merger gives it near-term advantage in consumer market

Cincinnati Bell isn't afraid of Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), one of its main competitors in the Cincinnati market. In fact, the telco sees the disruption created by all of the consolidation in the cable industry as a potential competitive opportunity to further enhance its broadband speeds and reach. 

Speaking to investors at the Stephens Spring Investment Conference 2015, Cincinnati Bell's CFO Leigh Fox said that the impending deal will give it more time to respond with a greater set of broadband services delivered over its growing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network.

"When the Comcast deal was announced, we knew that Charter was going to be in Cincinnati," Fox said. "From a timing standpoint it probably delays things, which is a positive for us, but it's still going to be Charter and we need to be prepared for another good competitor and ultimately it gives us more time."

Fox cited a social media post from one of its broadband users that noted the differences in approach between Cincinnati Bell and its cable competitors. While Cincinnati Bell is focused on building out higher speed fiber-based broadband, cable operators like Charter are investing their capital in buying one another.

"I read something in social media that said is it just me or is Cincinnati Bell the only provider in the city that's investing in higher speed and their competition is investing their time in selling themselves?" Fox said. "I think that's true so as we invest in our city and our infrastructure our main competitors' strategic goal is to sell themselves and that causes natural turmoil and chaos in their customer base, which is another opportunity for us."

Regardless of the cable consolidation trend, TWC and the eventual arrival of Charter are still viable competitive threats to Cincinnati Bell. In the Cincinnati market, TWC continues to be aggressive, a factor that was on display in its first quarter earnings report.

During the first quarter, TWC added 315,000 broadband subscribers, a figure FierceCable reported was the biggest net addition for the cable MSO since first quarter 2007. 

Leveraging a success-based strategy, Fox said that the fiber buildout into more areas of the city will continue as long as it sees good returns on its investments.

"We continue to watch it very closely," Fox said. "As long as we're seeing the results we're seeing we'll continue to march forward."

Cincinnati Bell continues to move forward with its Fioptics fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) build. The telco reported in the first quarter that it passed an additional 22,600 addresses with fiber.

The Fioptics service is now available to 357,600 addresses, or approximately 44 percent of Greater Cincinnati.

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