Today, you'll see a new daily publication in FierceTelecom's wireline publication roster: FierceCable. You can sign up for our new FierceCable publication by clicking on this link.
Heading up the effort is long-time cable and telecom industry veteran writer Jim Barthold, who as you may know previously worked alongside me during my tenure as Editor at the former Telecommunications Magazine Americas and the related Telecom Engine website.
Jim's connection to the cable runs deep. Prior to stints at various cable and telecom publications, Jim was a PR man for the former Jerrold/General Instrument (now Motorola) for 13 years.
Personally, I think the timing is right for Fierce to launch such a publication as the cable industry itself is going through various key network and business transitions.
From where I sit, I see four major shifts in the cable industry that will continue to take place in 2010 and beyond:
- DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade: Although they are moving at their own respective pace, cable is converging on getting more out of its existing Hybrid Fiber Coax plant by leveraging channel bonding and other techniques to provide higher speeds to residential and increasingly business customers. Just last week, Comcast announced that it's getting closer to offering a nationwide 100 Mbps-based DOCSIS 3.0 service. No less compelling are moves by Time Warner Cable and Virgin Media. Following an initial launch in New York City, TWC has brought DOCSIS 3.0 to its Cincinnati market with reports that it could be targeting Texas and upstate New York. Then, across the pond in the U.K., Richard Branson's Virgin Media already offers 50 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 services with plans to launch 100 Mbps service by the end of this year.
- Sharpening business skills: In business services, Cox Business has clearly been an aggressive force in providing a suite of everything from Ethernet (over both fiber and HFC), voice, and even T1-like services to SMBs and larger businesses. But that's not to say other MSOs aren't on the business train. Again, I point to Comcast here. In addition to aggressively targeting SMBs with a mix of cable modem-based DOCSIS and voice services, the Philadelphia-based MSO is in the process of purchasing Cimco, a CLEC with sizeable network assets.
- Wholesale rising: As the largest cable MSOs expand their fiber networks to serve business needs, they are also continuing to be aggressive on the wholesale services front. A key piece of this segment is wireless backhaul. According to a new Heavy Reading Cable insider report "Mobile Backhaul: MSOs Gear Up for a Tower Play," the top four cable MSOs (Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Charter) have continued to step up their movement in this market segment as wireless operators--making their respective migrations to 3G, 4G and LTE--are looking for alternative sources for wireless backhaul. Comcast believes that wireless backhaul could possibly become a $1 billion revenue source, while Cox thinks it could generate more than $50 million in wholesale revenue. Also worth noting is Charter. While only months out of bankruptcy, the MSO earlier this year said it would add more bandwidth to its staff to keep with wireless backhaul demand.
- Digital transition: Looking to provide more enhanced channels and other interactive services such as multi-room DVR, cable operators are in the process of phasing out their analog networks in favor of digital. The key projects in this transition include Comcast's Project Calvary and even competitive provider RCN's Analog Crush.
With these trends as a backdrop, please join me in welcoming Jim and the start of what I think will be a great new chapter for FierceMarkets. --Sean