WiFi plays an important role for cable business service providers, which mostly serve small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), Time Warner Cable’s new evp/COO Phil Meeks said at the Cable Show’s B2B panel Tues, citing the operator’s wireless partnership with Verizon Wireless. SMBs feel more comfortable working with communications providers that “understand their needs,” he said. And according to Kneko Burney, founder of consulting firm Compass Intelligence, wireless connectivity is an important part of that.
At Suddenlink, managed WiFi services, which allow business customers to create WiFi hotspots, is gaining traction, according to Mary Meduski, evp/CFO. Cablevision is also looking to provide managed WiFi, which offers wireless access to employees and guests through in-building wireless networks, the company said in September.
In addition to traditional bundle services, managed services are becoming popular among small businesses, according to Meduski. That includes network security, cloud-based hosting and other IP-based services. Businesses are looking to providers to “manage the complexity of their businesses…so they expect us to offer more advanced services,” in addition to the bundles, pres, Bright House Nets Nomi Bergman said. The operator is focusing on providing “full services” for customers in its footprint, she said.
Cable business service providers agreed that there is a lack of meaningful competition from telecom providers. For instance, AT&T is in 60% of Suddenlink’s enterprise footprint, but the telco isn’t necessarily targeting Suddenlink’s core enterprise base, which is comprised of businesses with 5-22 employees, Meduski said. Suddenlink’s 17% YOY growth in the business market has been consistent in the last few years, she said.
Meanwhile, Bright House competes with Verizon FiOS in some markets but the MSO is “well positioned” to offer fiber to businesses, according to Bergman. The company has seen more growth on the enterprise fiber business than in other enterprise segments, the exec said.
Cable MSOs’ local focus is probably one of the biggest advantages over its competitors, Meeks said. “I wouldn’t underestimate the power of Verizon and AT&T…But our differentiation is our local resources and markets [versus centralized operations by telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T],” said the former Cox Business head.
Moving forward, Time Warner Cable is looking to double its enterprise business in the next 5 years, Meeks said. To get there, the company will focus on the SMB segment, while moving into the mid-level enterprise market. In addition, the company will look to “leverage adjacent opportunities in the telecom space” such as offering cloud-based services.