Dave Vozzola is chief operating officer for Vozzcom.
What products or services are you developing over the next few years, and why are they important to cable?
We have expanded our broadband fulfillment services to include digital phone installations and triple-play service calls. Although we are a contractor, Vozzcom is an employee-based partner with our clients, meaning we never hire subcontractors. With Vozzcom’s training and certification programs, our field reps can effectively speak to the consumer on all cable triple-play services. All service technicians are equipped with Trilithic or JDSU meters, depending on the operator’s preference, and are highly trained and outfitted just like in-house technicians.
These partnerships are critical to servicing the MSO customers in the future. It is a fact that more technicians are leaving this industry than are coming into it; therefore, a company that can attract, train and retain technicians will not only be an asset to any MSO, it will also be an integral part of the MSO’s success in delivering all future services.
We are currently working through NCTI for national certifications and through MSOs on their specific certification for digital phone installation.
We believe these services and our training and certification in cable’s other offerings is extremely important to the industry. Providing the bundled opportunities for consumers offers new revenue streams and ways to compete, but taking those services to the home through personal interaction is an extremely important component. They provide the technology, and Vozzcom provides the one-to-one personal communication that helps to sell and educate customers in the use of those bundled services.
During your meetings with cable operators, what areas of concern do they mention most frequently?
Finding quality technicians has been a concern for the cable operators who have their own in-house team as well as those that use contractors like Vozzcom. The cable industry is going through a transformation. The services now being offered by MSOs require that representatives out in the field be able to understand and speak intelligently about them. It is no longer a simple hook-up to a TV set for programming. Questions are often asked because consumers are curious about the various services offered. Customer education is the key to embracing all advanced services.
The old model of the contractor is gone and replaced by one of a partner. Contractors need to be employee-based, committed to training, and offer world-class benefits and promotions that provide long-term career opportunities for field techs.
If you had to pick one area for the cable industry to become more focused on, what is it and why?
The human aspect is one that sometimes gets missed by cable operators, and should be a focus just as important as the services they are offering and plan to offer in the future. Cable companies must ask themselves: “Who is interacting with our customers in the field? Are they trained to effectively speak on triple-play offerings? Do they represent our interests and serve our customers effectively?”
Often the only person a cable customer meets in person is a contractor. That first impression is a lasting impression. Field techs must arrive on time, in clean uniforms and be knowledgeable about all cable services.
Which is the biggest threat to the cable industry: telcos, satellite or over-the-top providers?
All three industries provide alternatives and therefore challenges, but the telcos are probably the best positioned to be competitive in the future. If they are able to convince consumers that IPTV is a viable alternative to cable, that could be a challenge, and they may stand a chance in terms of competition. Additionally, many telcos have begun deploying fiber to the home (FTTH), which is another avenue to deliver multiple services to consumers.
What service or product will have the biggest impact on cable subscribers over the next five years?
Cable has continuously transformed the industry with each advance in broadband technology, and the bundled triple play will transform the industry again. The number of residential VoIP subscribers more than tripled last year and continues to grow. eMarketer forecasts that 40 percent of all broadband households will be using VoIP in just four years. Cable offers the clearest connection, and quality will be a determining factor in the service consumers choose. Cable currently offers the highest quality and penetration in video and high-speed Internet access, and VoIP will be no exception.
What is the defining moment for your company over the past five years?
The success of our retention services in an increasingly competitive market with satellite and DSL is a substantial milestone for us and obviously a great benefit to our clients. Some of the systems we work with have realized retention numbers as high as 83 percent, which we believe is due to our well-trained employees and a program that puts our field technicians out in communities at more convenient times to connect with customers.