Amy Tykeson, BendBroadband
We took some time to ask the Cable Center’s Hall of Famers about their experiences in the industry. The following is a Q&A with Amy Tykeson, pres and CEO, BendBroadband.
CableFAX: BendBroadband has a reputation for innovation. How have you kept it on the cutting edge?
For us there are three factors that help keep us out in front. First, as a privately held family business we have the flexibility to make investment decisions for the long term. When opportunities come along that make strategic sense we move forward. In nearly all cases these investments have been winners. Our move to build the BendBroadband Vault, the only Tier III, LEED Gold certified colocation data center in the Northwest two years ago and our expansion of PON business services into neighboring markets both provide runway for future growth as legacy residential products mature.
The second factor is our company culture. Built on collaboration, teamwork and a framework of project management, our associates find solutions, embrace change and connect with the bigger picture. They want our company to be surprisingly easy and enjoyable to do business with and advance our opportunities for growth as the preferred regional provider.
And third, our partnerships with key vendors, provide an important conduit for innovation. Our engineers and employees collaborate with theirs to bring new solutions to market. All in all our early-to-market solutions have paid off for our communities, our customers, our employees and our vendors.
CableFAX: While women continue to make gains in the industry, the number of females in C-suite positions continues to lag. Why do you think that is?
“What gets measured gets done” and that applies to gender diversity in cable. Not surprisingly, the shortage of women in the C-suite is not unique to cable. In fact, cable is a strong career path for women. Could it be better? Yes. According to the most recent WICT PAR Survey, women account for 30% of senior managers—up from 25% 2 years prior, and far better than the 21% in the broader telecommunications industry. The advancement toward gender diversity is due to the industry’s support of WICT, the PAR survey which measures progress and importantly, the initiatives undertaken by individual companies.
While women in senior positions in the cable business are pacing ahead of other industries, we still have a long way to go. If we continue the momentum and leverage the resources in place to recruit, retain and promote women, gender parity could be accomplished by 2020. With all the smart and talented women and men in our industry we can make that happen and our companies will thrive as a result.
CableFAX: The industry survived the 1992 Cable Act and subsequent regulation, and now it faces a much more competitive environment. What has cable learned from its mistakes of the past—and how can it avoid future regulation?
Technology changes fast and regulators come and go. As a result we end up with many onerous laws. Regulation of successful industries seems to be unavoidable these days. To lessen what we might face in the future, the cable industry—operators in particular— have to work smarter to educate officials, customers and public interest groups about how our industry is fortifying innovation in America. The billions of dollars of investment we have made in broadband has shaped a new economy. Our networks have and will continue to keep America at the forefront. It’s time we changed the conversation.
What do you hope will be a priority for the new FCC chairman?
Lately there has been a lot of preemptive regulation and consumers end up getting the short end of the stick. If Tom Wheeler becomes the next FCC Chairman, with his significant background in the various industries he will be overseeing, I hope he will allow innovation to flourish by avoiding government regulation unless there is a demonstrated market failure, and by eliminating outdated rules. We need to phase out entitlements, add transparency and be sure sunset clauses are part of the future regime.
Given the rising programming costs and the challenges they present to operators, particularly smaller ones, have you given much thought to the idea of truly living up to BendBroadband’ s name and going all broadband? Let OTT players deal with programmers. Do you see that as a real possibility in the near future?
While it sounds good, there are many hurdles to an all-OTT model including digital rights management, programmer and retransmission consent agreements and technology investments. Bottom-line, customers want and deserve more choices through a blend of linear and new OTT options. As a local provider we have to meet the needs and budgets of our customers or they will find other solutions. Given the consolidation of programming and the sizable annual increases in rates, I hope programmers will heed our call for meaningful alternatives. The current model is not sustainable and we are on the verge of a market failure in this regard.
CableFAX: What does being inducted mean to you?
I never dreamed I would receive this recognition and this honor. To me this is the ultimate acknowledgement for the part I have played in our industry. My entire adult life has been spent working in cable. I have made so many wonderful friends, been exposed to such talented and smart people and had the good fortune to be mentored by remarkable men and women. I am lucky to be part of this extraordinary business and grateful for all it has given back to me.