As someone who’s already crossed the invisible but very significant line between cable operator and cable vendor, Jim Chiddix has some advice for Wayne Davis: "The vendor stuff is harder than it looks."
Chiddix is well known for his roles as CTO of cable operator Time Warner Cable and vice-chairman of set-top box vendor OpenTV. Davis most recently served as executive vice president/CTO of Charter Communications. Now the two industry vets have joined broadband access technology vendor Vyyo, where Chiddix will be vice chairman and Davis will run things as CEO.
"The MSOs today in the U.S. are very large enterprises, and they’re deliberate in the way they move. You can see they’ve been effective in moving from one new market to the other – getting into high-speed data and then telco and now focusing on business," said Chiddix. "For any vendor, the key is to try to anticipate well in advance and to build technologies that are going to be useful. But there’s no way to sell stuff that customers don’t want."
Both Davis and Chiddix joined Vyyo because they think customers – aka MSOs – want technology to deliver high-speed data and voice services to small-medium businesses (SMBs) that telcos are ignoring. Vyyo makes a 3 GHz spectrum overlay technology that rides on top of existing cable residential HFC plant, but lets operators target pockets of customers with dedicated bandwidth and devote minimal revenue dropping coax lines to commercial customers. Mainstreaming To paraphrase Vyyo’s marketing pitch: It sure beats trenching fiber.
"This product, as well as other products Vyyo has (such as a T1-over-coax offering) are tools in the tool pouch of cable operators to go after parts of the business that they haven’t gone after before," said Davis. "The cable industry, from the largest MSO down, has now said that the low-hanging fruit is to go after the small-medium businesses on the commercial side, and that’s the next new revenue stream after voice."
Vyyo’s been saying the same thing so long that there were some who wondered whether the company was so far ahead of the curve it was not in the main stream.
"It’s more mainstream than you might think since it leverages the existing coaxial architecture that’s already in place vs. some alternative architectures that are being bounced around different technology groups," Davis said.
There is a historic connection between the way cable continually leapfrogged its bandwidth before developing HFC as a more efficient delivery mechanism to get more from what was there, and now it hopes to get bigger and faster for commercial customers. Vyyo, for its part, is pushing bandwidth steroids that let operators bulk up existing networks without investing a lot of money and work.
"Vyyo’s technology allows the coaxial cable user to take advantage of a lot more potential bandwidth than is currently being used," Chiddix said, speaking a tad more conservatively.
That, of course, is the vendor’s perspective. The operator’s perspective, still fresh in Davis’ mind, is simple.
"It’s always, ‘What’s the next revenue steam to grow the company,’" he said. "Commercial services are one of those, and (Vyyo) is just another tool." – Jim Barthold