The inevitable link between wireless and cable is gaining strength as mobile video content becomes increasingly popular with consumers and service providers.
The extension of pay TV content to mobile devices, and the business models being explored by cable and wireless operators to make that happen, dominated the conversation by panelists during Sunday’s new technology session, "Airing It Out: Transforming Mobile Communications and Entertainment."
The four panelists represented a cross-section of thought about the future opportunities and challenges of the wireless-cable connection – from technical issues to business models and customer experiences.
"We are considering wireless as an offensive opportunity and are considering time to market, economics and integration of wireless into wireline services. And we’re looking for partnering opportunities," said Dallas Clement, vice president of strategy and product management for Cox Communications.
Some of those partners may include Sprint, Motorola and SES Americom, who joined Clement on the panel. "Wireless represents a fourth screen for cable, and we’ve completed a trial in Las Vegas with Hiwire. It can add a subscription revenue and build new bridges with broadcasters for mobile video. There was high satisfaction and willingness to pay," said Bryan McGuirk, president of media and enterprise services for SES Americom.
The trend towards personalization and delivering content to consumers when they want it is driving the emerging wireless-cable partnership, according to Dan Moloney, executive vice president of home and networks moblity for Motorola.
"The trend is from prime time to ‘my time’ and broadband on the go. It’s a mindset shift to on demand. But there must be an eco-system that allows shared devices and technology," Moloney noted.
Sprint, a key player to date in the wireless-cable mix, believes there is also room for 4G in the cable industry.
"There’s a home for 4G access in cable, but there’s also a tremendous amount of bandwidth needed. There’s also an opportunity for fixed mobile convergence in cable," said Jim Patterson, president of Sprint’s wholesale services.
There’s also a challenge. Concluded Patterson: "If Sprint doesn’t provide a quality network to cable operators, cable will have to make their networks competitive vs. AT&T and others and seek alternatives."
– Craig Kuhl