Okay, you’re probably NOT in love with your local cable providers. You think they block free market competition, jack up the prices, provide poor customer service and keep your Internet service slow on purpose. These are the complaints that litter the Internet.
I’m not here to debate the complaints – some are valid while others are misinformed – but what I do want to talk about is their emerging potential.
As revenue from traditional services (i.e. cable TV) becomes threatened by alternate providers you can be sure they’re not just sitting back fat, dumb and happy. For starters, cable provides over 80% of the U.S. with broadband Internet service. You can gripe about the pricing, but that’s a pretty big existing base to go after with new services.
One of the bigger opportunities on the horizon is wireless service, utilizing the numerous public Wi-Fi hotspots that Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks already have in place. Turns out about 70 to 80% of the time you make a mobile call, you’re in range of Wi-Fi anyway.
Wi-Fi (and VoWiFi) continues to improve, becoming more efficient, faster and with better quality. Additionally, Google and Apple have been instrumental in solving issues surrounding seamless hand-off between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, and vice-versa. Both Android and iOS devices are now optimized for VoIP calling over Wi-Fi, with cellular as the fall back.
Google’s recently announced Project Fi wireless service has further solidified the viability of the Wi-Fi first service model. Although they are certainly not the first to offer this type of service, they are definitely lending credibility that may well kick-start a serious migration.
T-Mobile’s CEO has already made noises about partnering with the cable providers, calling it a “match made in heaven.” And what about all those cable-company owned routers and set top boxes in almost every home in America? Embedded with Wi-Fi, we’re talking about a massive local mesh network. Lots of pros and cons there, but the possibilities are huge.
Even the word “cable” is starting to disappear from the industry’s lexicon. Note that the NTCA changed its conference’s name from The Cable Show to The Internet & Television Expo, reflecting changing priorities.
Comcast has been top of the news recently re: the abandoned Time Warner Cable merger. Regardless, CEO Brian Roberts has received kudos for responding that it’s “time to move on”, indicating the Comcast is indeed shifting into new areas.
As an example, they recently announced their new X1 entertainment platform signaling the integration of traditional TV viewing with new Internet-based apps and services. Positioned as the “future of television,” it offers capabilities such as cross-platform viewing, a voice enabled remote control and Xfinity Share, a WebRTC-based video streaming app that lets you live stream from your smartphone to your TV.
What are your thoughts? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, do you feel cable providers are poised for bigger and better things?
Holly Dowden VP of Marketing mPortal Inc. @mportal @hfdowden
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