Why Cable and Telco need to Talk. The Smurf Village needs to enter the Jungle

I’ve worked across the Cable / Telco divide for several years and remain perplexed at the lack of communications between the two groups.  The analogy I draw between the Telco and Cable industries is that of a Jungle and a Smurf village, see picture below.

In Telco the operators within a country are in competition with each other and generally give each other a passing sneer at industry events, while in Cable it’s all nicely geographically separated so everyone plays nice, except perhaps Comcast, at the Cable events its a bit like a family reunion.  Yes, I know the picture is of lions that live on the savanna, not the jungle, its the concept of the fight for survival the picture and the word jungle evokes (an alternative would be a dog eat dog picture, which would not be so nice.)


To be clear, I think the US cable folks should talk with the non-US telcos and vice versa.  Verizon and AT&T are in a relatively unique situation with a virtual duopoly, 100M+ customers each, a world leading ARPU / ARPH (Average Revenue Per User / Home), and a drive to LTE (Long Term Evolution) that is not the case in other markets.  As with all new technologies there are hick-ups along the way, so the recent downtime experienced on Verizon’s LTE network is not a surprise.  Remember back to the first year or so of CDMA and GSM, we saw similar problems.

But back to why the cable and telco folks need to talk with each other.  Telcos and Cable are both moving to quad play.  Telcos have struggled with IPTV, as discussed in this report, and cable has much to share on how to work with that TV industry.  Cable have had a good run with digital voice (VoIP), but need to rationalize their costs which telcos have been doing for several years.  Both need to find a way to work with OTT (Over The Top), and both need to innovate on services.  Which brings me to the SDP Summit, which is a conference on the infrastructure to make service innovation and working with third parties easier. SDP (Service Delivery Platform) isn’t just a ‘Telco thing’, its also a ‘Cable thing,’ in fact the platforms should be the same.  It’s a shame we’re not seeing more active involvement from the cable industry at such events as both industries have much to learn from talking with each other, rather than amongst themselves.