First there was "Only Cable Can." Next may be "Cable Means Business." Major cable ops are prepping to launch a consortium this year that will pitch cable nationally as a provider of business services. The 1st area of focus is messaging/advertising; similar to "Only Cable Can," operators want businesses to ‘call cable first.’ "Some of the large customers aren’t aware initially that cable is in the space," says Ken Fitzpatrick, Time Warner Cable svp, commercial services. "With a cross-MSO voice, it would allow us to get that message out that much louder." A consortium might 1st concentrate on key vertical markets in B2B, such as education and hospitality. With consortiums in place for ad sales and VOD, cable operators say the next logical step is one focused on business/commercial services. And they’ve tried. Throughout ’04, cable ops pursued a "Cable Means Business" (working title) consortium, hiring a 3rd party consultant to make recommendations. "Where we stand right now is that we’ve all kind of agreed that it makes sense, but we haven’t been able to completely finalize the consortium as it was recommended," Fitzpatrick says. What’s the major holdup? Structure, he says. "What does it look like? Is it a joint venture? Is it more of a cross-MSO relationship?" But things are moving forward as the consortium was made "a priority" during a meeting Mon of CTAM’s commercial services steering committee, which he chairs. CTAM hasn’t played a role in this consortium, but it might begin to, he says. So might CableLabs. "All the work done is well spent," he says. "We’ll do it. It’s just a matter of timing. One of the dynamics that drives this consortium is the level of maturity each MSO has in the space."

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Wireless veteran Stephen Stokols joined DISH as evp, Boost Mobile . Stokols, who most recently served as founder/CEO of wireless venture FreedomPop , will report to DISH group

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