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Cable Show: Business services will blossom with Time Warner Cable/Comcast deal

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:04pm
Mike Robuck

During Thursday’s business services session at The Cable Show moderator Gemma Toner addressed the elephant in the room right off the bat.

Toner asked the Time Warner Cable and Comcast panelists about the impact of Comcast’s $45 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable.

“This is an unbelievably fabulous time and inflection period in our industry,” said Comcast Business president Bill Stemper. “We’re really, really excited about the opportunity of Time Warner and Comcast coming together. If you’re a small business with one location or if you’re mid-size customer needing sophisticated services regionally, or if you’re an international customer, all of these are going to win. All of the businesses in the U.S. are going to see value and competition that they’ve never seen before in the history of the telecom industry.”

Time Warner Cable’s Phil Meeks, executive vice president and chief operating officer for business services, said that he could only talk about aspects of the deal that were public record, but he was very bullish on the idea of combining the two companies’ business services footprints.

“It’s big enough that you have scale, but small enough to sill be fairly agile,” he said. “This is a good deal for customers, which is the most important item. When you look at the multiple locations of enterprise customers, we’ll be uniquely situated to solve their issues. We’ll be in 20 of the top25 DMAs in the country. I think this is a pretty impressive thing that we can offer our business customers.”

The cable industry has spent a lot of time pondering how it could offer large, national customers services that cross cable operators’ footprints. To date, most of those types of deals have been “one offs,” which don’t scale. With the combined strength of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, businesses can be served in-house, coast-to-coast.

Toner, senior vice president, business insights and strategy for Cablevision, asked the panel if the competition, namely Verizon and AT&T, was starting to wake up to the fact that cable operators are siphoning off a large number of their customers.

Steve Rowley, senior vice president of Cox Business, said customer retention was critical and the first 60 days were key to making sure business customers were happy. Rowley said Cox Business’ churn rate was “world class.”

Kevin Stephens, senior vice president, commercial and advertising operations at Suddenlink Communications, said having multiple touch points, such as a Web portal and live chat, with business services customers was important for customer retention. Suddenlink gathers the customer feedback and loads it into its CRM platform to give its sales team a full view of what customers want.

Stemper and Meeks said that their respective companies were making the move into the mid-market, or enterprise sector, and that their Ethernet services provided a big edge over the legacy ATM-based services that their competition uses. 

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