Looking Ahead: Where We Want To See Your Cable Company In Five Years

Right now the cable television industry is in a state of flux, as customer viewing preferences are changing and cable operators are looking for new ways of monetizing and distributing content to consumers.

With this in mind, let’s look down the road a bit. It’s time to start thinking about where you want your network, and your programming, to be in five years.

Perhaps the most important question that you’ll need to ask in the near future centers on the architecture of your network’s core data transport. Should you continue using your Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) network that you already have in place, or should you make the leap to a system like Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH)? On one hand, fiber is getting increasingly affordable; on the other hand, the advent of DOCSIS 3.1 allows for up to 10 Gbps to the home—and requires no physical upgrade. It’s not an easy choice, but what is clear is that fiber will eventually become the backbone of the broadband industry and HFC networks will need to be replaced. It’s just a matter of when this will happen which is a bit uncertain.

Connectivity aside, now is the time to start sharing the way you offer content to your customers. There’s no question that right now, over-the-top (OTT) content is at the front of a sea change. Bandwidth demands will continue to increase.  But how about the future of bundles.  Analysts predict that just five years from now, consumers will start once again demanding for broad bundles that offer a wider selection of content. While we may see bundles shrink in the short term, they should widen down the road.

So what’s an operator to do?  I guess I’d be prepared to cater to customers on both sides of the fence.  Don’t abandon your traditional cable packaging model. Supplement the service you offer by providing skinny, customizable bundles.  OTT will continue to drive bandwidth demands and while you may not pull HFC out of the ground just yet, all new build will likely be fiber-based.