Dominating the political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate about Net Neutrality is far from resolved. But have we lost sight of what this issue is really about?
Speaking at the ANGA COM congress in Köln, Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global, was asked for his viewpoint on the Net Neutrality debate. His response was immediate and unequivocal. “In my thirty years in the industry, I have never encountered a topic that is less well understood, that is so misinterpreted, misused, and I might even say abused, by different people in the ecosystem of the debate than this.”
With his global perspective, Fries’ frustration is understandable given the timing of his words in the early summer of 2014. The FCC’s examination of the Net Neutrality issue had pitched US commentators, lobbyists and PR machinery at levels of near hysteria. Not many issues of technical legislative detail have US citizens demonstrating in the streets of Washington DC and command headline slots on primetime satirical TV shows.
The Net Neutrality debate in Europe has thus far been conducted in calmer tones, but there’s no doubt that there’s just as much to play for. Fries’ concern that the issue is too important to be hijacked is true on both sides of the Atlantic.
Freedom to grow
When the internet was created 25 years ago, one of the core principles set out by its founders was that there should be a level playing field for those using the internet, irrespective of size and provenance. That principle has been one of the cornerstones of its phenomenal success. The other has been freedom from prescriptive regulatory measures which could have stifled investment, innovation and growth. READ MORE
Waste not want not
Think of innovation in the cable industry, and what springs to mind? Smart pipes? DOCSIS 3.1? Speed? Bandwidth? Mostly, we associate innovation with technology, and rightly so. Technological advancement is the engine room of our innovation and success.
But what if we broaden our perspective and imagine an innovation that reduces costs, increases efficiency, benefits the consumer, is future proof, contributes to employee engagement and reduces environmental footprint at the same time?
Enter Spanish cable operator Ono. In 2013, Ono introduced an innovative management model designed to reduce power consumption and support eco-friendly attitudes and procedures within the organisation. A superficial “corporate social responsibility” exercise? Hardly. Consider this: to date, the company reduced its power consumption by 24%, whilst simultaneously growing out its network to provide customers with new and better services.
Inigo Polo, Ono’s Head of Public Affairs and Public Administration, describes the project’s main elements. “For this to work, to have a true impact over the long term, it had to be a 360° approach to processes, systems and behaviours. Firstly we had to understand our own processes inside out, so that new initiatives could be effectively implemented in house and within our partnership agreements. Big picture, we needed to gain an accurate impact assessment, encompassing everything from waste management right through to power consumption and even visual and noise pollution. Getting down to the micro level, every single contributor to electrical consumption was rolled into our tools.” READ MORE
The Expert View
TV Everywhere is a broad church, incorporating the fast growing services which take you across multiple devices inside the home, right through to nascent services which travel with you outside your own four walls. One thing is certain: it’s a growth trend which consumers are embracing. Analyst Mohammed Hamza of SNL Kagan takes us through their latest research into the phenomenon that is TV Everywhere.
Strong TV Everywhere – by which we usually mean acessing content across multiple screens and devices within the home – would appear to be good news for operators as well as subscribers, contributing to stability in the subscriber base. Moreover, its performance provides new opportunities for revenue growth via deeper customer engagement and the ability to sell targeted advertising across connected screens.
Comparing the latest data collected against that from the surveys conducted in October 2012 and July 2013, you could argue that it has been the satellite operators who have embraced the more consistent marketing approach to TV Everywhere. Fewer pay TV operators on other platforms have followed such a consistent approach to building a marketing message, hindered in part by a more fragmented roll-out and difficulties in service applications at launch. However this picture is quickly changing as intense competition in this area drives a faster pace of innovation across other platforms. Between Liberty Global’s Horizon platform and TiVo Inc. on cable as well as renewed efforts from IPTV players, continued next-generation roll-outs mean that rival TVE services to those offered by satellite are quickly and effectively overcoming early challenges that included the lack of multiscreen rights and TV platforms in early maturity. READ MORE
Gorän Marby, Chair of BEREC
The average European man-in-the-street may not have heard of Göran Marby, but he’s playing a role in their daily lives whether they know it or not. As Chair of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), he and his team are on a mission to promote an effective internal market in the telecoms sector. National Regulatory Authorities and the European Commission alike are required by law to take BEREC’s opinions, recommendations and advice into account, so clearly he’s a man to be listened to. Göran Marby spoke exclusively to Cable News about his role, his native Sweden, and his take on the cable industry.
1. With stints at Cisco, Unisource and seven years as CEO of your own network security company, your biog reads like a career guide to high tech business, industry and entrepreneurialism. Then four years ago there’s a complete step change and you become the industry regulator – a “poacher turned gamekeeper”. What prompted the change, and how big a culture shock has it been?
Göran Marby: I started out in IT in the ‘90s, so I’ve been lucky enough to have had a huge amount of fun in a fast changing industry. When the Swedish Government asked me to do this job, for me it was a way of saying thanks, of giving something back, and I thought maybe I did have some knowledge that someone else could benefit from. And I have to say this: it has been one of the most interesting
things I have ever done in my life. READ MORE
Welcome Gigasphere, the Next Generation of Broadband Technology & Services
By Rob Stoddard and Wayne Surdam
Consumers around the world have embraced broadband as the premier communication platform of today and tomorrow. With video, data, voice, and network services all riding atop our industry’s broadband infrastructure, it truly has become “how we connect.”
A recent report from Cisco predicted that global internet traffic will increase threefold during the next five years. The “Internet of Things” will add millions, possibly billions, more points of presence to broadband networks and challenge our network management and customer satisfaction skills.
The exploding dependence on broadband, and the ongoing transition to IP technology for everything cable, raises the stakes for staying ahead of the curve. Strategy and technology experts on both sides of the Atlantic, however, aren’t surprised by this growth and in fact have anticipated it. That foresight gave rise last year to the creation by CableLabs® of the next generation Data Over Cable System Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 3.1 for the delivery and management of many new and enhanced broadband services for consumers.
Cable engineers and strategy executives have been excited about the benefits of DOCSIS 3.1 for several years now. As the level of discussion heightens and anticipation grows with a wide range of audiences, so came the need for better ways to talk about DOCSIS 3.1 that resonate with consumers.
Thus was born “Gigasphere”, a new consumer-facing category name for the next-generation services, attributes, and technologies. READ MORE
A Flourishing Future for Cable
Flourishing Future. When the marketing teams chose the theme for the 2014 Cable Congress in Amsterdam, even they couldn’t have known quite how apt it would immediately prove to be. Kicking off the Congress with the latest industry stats from IHS, we hit the newswires with cable top-line growth accelerating by 5.9% in 2013.
Underpinning these impressive stats, and setting the theme for the Congress was one clear message: size matters. Industry leaders Mike Fries (Liberty Global) and Manuel Cubero (KDG) pointed to the need to gain scale through consolidation, whilst keynote speaker Josh Sapan (AMC Networks) highlighted the role content plays in driving quad play growth as consumers make emotional connections with content, leading to a trend of new relationships between infrastructure and content providers.
Sapan didn’t just talk size and strength, he brought it with him in the formidable shape of Jason Momoa, star of hit series The Red Road, who joined the Amsterdam Congress along with cast members from Glee and The Walking Dead. As well as being superb entertainment and a great photo op for the delegates, the star casts were a reminder that viewing behaviours and multi-screen usage are changing our relationship with consumers. And in the words of Cable Europe President Manuel Kohnstamm, “we feel good about cable’s ability to grow through these cycles.”
We’re ever keen to deliver contrasting experiences, and industry executives were held spellbound by an address from one of today’s most intriguing and successful entrepreneurs. Another seasoned cable heavyweight? No, pint-sized 14 year old Irish schoolboy Jordan Casey, Founder and CEO of Casey Games, who described his impressive (and highly successful) creative and development process – along with the continuing need to play football and hang out with his mates. READ MORE
Some of Europe’s smallest and most fragmented cable markets are amongst the most tech-savvy, with Estonia decribed by The Economist as “a world leader in technology”. Cable Europe takes a closer look at the country and its neighbouring Baltic states. Click here for more report and graphics