Cable back at the table

22 Mar 2005

After years in the doldrums, cable is firmly back in the mainstream of infrastructure development, driving competition and growth throughout Europe, a major conference in Budapest heard yesterday.

Where cable operators roll out ‘triple play’ ie, telephone, broadband and television services, broadband internet penetration is up to three times higher and telephone service is cheaper. Moreover, broadband internet and telephony services will continue to be the major growth drivers for the European cable business. These were some of the findings of an Ovum study presented at the three-day annual congress of the European Cable Communications Association (ECCA) that ends tomorrow.

The research firm also reported that the roll out of digital television services and video on demand was increasing the attractiveness of the cable’s triple play offer, though the industry faces increased competition, as incumbent phone companies and digital terrestrial networks are also offering digital television services. Meanwhile, consolidation of the European cable sector will continue in 2005 and beyond and remains a necessary process in order to provide the scale needed for sustainable business performance in order for the industry to provide the widest range of services at the highest quality to European consumers.

More than 400 delegates are attending the ECCA congress, a 25pc increase on last year. They include senior business executives and government officials in telecommunication and media from around Europe.

Kalman Kovacs, Hungary’s Minister of Informatics and Communications, stated: “Throughout Europe and certainly also in the new EU member states we see a major acceleration of broadband deployment through the investments in cable networks. It drives a new phase of healthy competition and growth in our economies.”

Cable bosses attending a CEO summit as part of the conference concluded that the No 1 priority for operators in the years to come would be how to best serve their customers. In the years to come, cable operators will focus strongly on providing attractive and innovative content to their customers, as they face increased competition for their digital television services offered via other technologies. The CEOs also recognised the need to continue investing heavily in a strong and future-proof cable infrastructure.

By Brian Skelly