Cable and Mobile Convergence: A Vision from the Cable Communities Around the World (2020)

By Jennifer Andréoli-Fang, PhD, CableLabs; John T. Chapman, Ian Campbell, & Mark Grayson, Cisco; Ahmed Bencheikh, Praveen Srivastava & Vikas Sarawat, Charter Communications; Drew Davis & Paul Blaser, Cox Communications; Damian Poltz & Dave Morley, Shaw Communications; Eduardo Panciera, Telecom Argentina; Philippe Perron, Sylvain Archambault, Eric Menu, Géraldine Trouillard & David Lagacé, Videotron; Gavin Young & Bruno Cornaglia, Vodafone

After tremendous growth and success in video, data, and voice services, cellular wireless is the next frontier for cable. Quarter over quarter, the US cable mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) business continues to see mobile subscriber growth. As of the Q2, 2020, less than three years after the launch of the first MVNO by Comcast, the three US cable MVNOs combined have amassed 4.2 million customers.

While Comcast and Charter MVNO utilize Verizon as the mobile network operator (MNO), Altice USA has an agreement with Sprint (now T-Mobile). Recently, Cox Communication also demonstrated an interest in starting an MVNO.

The momentum is there. Consistently, executive leadership at cable companies has shown strong support for and interest in growing the wireless business.

The mobile customer growth is not restricted to the cable operators in the US. Cable operators in the neighboring north – Canada – are also reporting impressive number and innovative business model.

In contrast to the US, virtually all of Canada’s largest cable and telco operators offer both wireline and mobile services on their own infrastructure. Rogers, Canada’s largest cable and mobile operator, has been offering mobile services since 1985, with Vidéotron launching its wireless services in 2010, Shaw acquiring Wind Mobile in 2015, and Cogeco aiming to enter the Canadian wireless market through a Hybrid Mobile Network Operator (HMNO) model. The Canadian market also faces strong competition from Canada’s large incumbent Telco operators, which have invested heavily in fiber to the home, connecting more than60% of their broadband homes directly to fiber, and leveraging a robust RAN sharing agreement to minimize their infrastructure costs.

In the South America market, Telecom is a leader in the Communication Service Provider (CSP) industry in Argentina. It is a merger of two companies – the former Telecom, incumbent telco, and former Cablevision, a cable operator. The merger of companies was approved in 2018, and the name TELECOM was kept as the name of the new company.

Telecom is the first CSP in Argentina to provide quad-play services: it serves 4 million fixed broadband subscribers, 18.8 million mobile subscribers, 3.5 million TV subscribers and 3 million fixed voice subscribers. It also provides business services. Telecom Argentina is a connectivity solutions and entertainment company transforming the digital experience of its customers, providing them a secure, flexible and dynamic service on all of their devices, with high speed mobile and fixed connections, and alive and on-demand contents platform which includes series, films, gaming, music and TV shows. It is also present in Paraguay, providing mobile service, and in Uruguay, with pay TV.

In Europe, the transformation of cable company to mobile company is mostly done. One of the biggest cable companies in Europe, and the world for that matter, is Vodafone. Vodafone acquired a variety of cable properties across Europe and now operates cable franchises in Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Albania.

The mobile journey of the cable companies will become an amazing success story. This white paper is intended to grab a snapshot of that story as it is coming together today. The paper will start with a framework for looking at different types of convergence which is also different ways of investing capital for different outcomes. The paper will then showcase six different cable operators with mobile plans, each of whom have common goals and technologies, but a unique point of view. Once the goals and objectives are understood, the paper will highlight technologies that are common to the solutions. These are some of the important technologies that we want the industry to focus on.

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