Good Days for Cable

Carl Weinschenk

A few articles we've seen during the past couple of weeks suggest that it's a good time to be in the cable business.

Perhaps the most persuasive was a release highlighting a report by Pike & Fischer. Just about everyone agrees that the future of telecommunications is in bundling wireless and wireline voice, video and data services. The good news for the cable industry is the report essentially says that it is better at this than the phone companies. The better news is that the analyst expects its bundling advantage to increase over time.

We're a bit skeptical of that position as the telcos deploy more fiber, which will give them greater capacity than the cable companies. The fact that the firm sees cable's ascendancy despite that clearly is a good sign for them.

Another good tiding for operators is that they have new markets into which to tap. The industry has always cast longing glances at the small and medium business market. It seems clear that the industry's maturation improves its prospects in this sector. The SMB play is helped by the growth of Ethernet in the wide-area network (WAN), since it is the protocol used by cable and corporate local-area networks (LANs).

The last bit of good news is a favorable decision from the Federal Communications Commission in a matter that will make rural telcos play nicer when it comes to completing calls on each each others' networks. That, clearly, will help cable operators in the hinterlands.

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