Sounding like cable’s version of Rod Tidwell from "Jerry Maguire," Jim Robbins challenged engineers at CTAM’s Commercial Services Forum near DC to "ask for the money" from their MSO bosses for commercial services. "The market’s there to be taken," he said, urging MSOs to target the T1 line market. If telcos "go after our video business, then we should go after their medium and smaller businesses; they don’t pay any attention to those guys and they’re crying out for a soft touch from a good cable company." An early entrant Cox believes its Cox Business Services will be a $1bln company within 5 years. Investing in commercial services "is the best use of capital for us…the returns are much faster than residential businesses, that’s very appealing to numbers guys like me." Of course, Robbins said his fellow MSO chiefs are "not unaware" of commercial services’ margins, but noted the "luxury of options we have in cable." That means "you have to raise your voices louder" than others in your companies. The Cox chief admitted that "I’m here selfishly" to get MSOs to join commercial services; an industry-wide collaboration will help [Cox] do its job better, make suppliers/vendors feel more secure and chip away at telcos’ "bread and butter." Telcos make almost nothing on residential phone service, but every time cable takes away a commercial account "it really hurts," he said. And Robbins didn’t miss a chance to note that the Forum was in Fairfax, VA, a lucrative Cox market and a potential target for Verizon’s proposed video service. Can the telcos make money on video? "I don’t know…but they have no choice" but to try since "video is the anchor scheme of the bundle. That said, they have one boatload of money and people to throw at it." CS Notes: Based on the size of the audience of more than 300, there’s plenty of interest in commercial services. The CTAM session was sold out for a 3rd consecutive year and included more than 30 walk-ups, who paid an extra $50 for admission. The Midwest Cable Academy Wed featured 3 concurrent sessions on commercial services and all were crowded.

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