05-02-2016, 10:39 #1
[EN] Cord cutting overblown? U.S. pay-TV providers added 170K video subs in Q4 2015February 4, 2016 | By Daniel Frankel
With fourth quarter earnings reported for six leading pay-TV platforms, it appears the business could actually finish with customer growth this year despite ample hand-wringing over cord cutting.
According to FierceCable's informal tally based on earnings reports from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, the six platforms finished 2015 by adding 37,000 video subscribers.
For the fourth quarter, the operators added 170,000 video subs.
This tally doesn't include data from Dish Network or Cablevision, or mid-sized operators like Suddenlink Communications or Mediacom.
Of course, the narrow gain is still cause for concern. The big "gainer" this year was Verizon FiOS, which added 178,000 video users in 2015, a sharp drop from the 422,000 added in 2014. FiOS added only 20,000 video customers in the fourth quarter.
The big decliner was AT&T's forsaken U-verse platform, which lost 304,000 video customers for the year, and a whopping 240,000 in the fourth quarter alone. Pouring its promotional energy into its newly acquired DirecTV platform these days, AT&T saw the satellite TV unit add 214,000 customers in the fourth quarter and 156,000 for the year.
The difference-maker this year was, of course, cable. Both TWC (up 36,000 for 2015) and Charter (up 11,000) experienced growth years in video for the first time in a decade, while Comcast added 89,000 video subs in the fourth quarter to finish the year down by only 36,000.
Comcast adds 89K video subs in Q4, best quarter in nine years
05-02-2016, 14:25 #2
Google drinks the cable biz's milkshake with FCC set-top proposalFebruary 2, 2016 | By Daniel Frankel
Google, the most profligate lobbyist of all, drinks the cable biz's milkshake with FCC set-top proposal
When word leaked last week that Google was showing off in D.C. a set-top that sounded an awful lot like FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler engineered it himself, I found myself asking, how did the cable industry get out-lobbied so badly?
Comcast has a reputation for spending more money on K Street than just about any company not pushing missiles or fighter jets. The National Cable Telecommunications Association is run by a highly connected former FCC chairman in Michael Powell. Ironically, Wheeler himself is a former cable lobbyist.
Quietly, however, Google has become the most profligate, influencing spender in Washington. According to the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, Google spent $16.83 million on federal lobbying in 2014. That figure edged the $16.8 million spent by Comcast as it was pulling out all the stops in trying to pave road for its ultimately failed attempt to buy Time Warner Cable.
Certainly, when it comes to Wheeler's proposal to open up pay-TV's largely proprietary set-top box domain to third-party manufacturers, it appears as though the biggest company on Earth drank the cable industry's Beltway milkshake.
In announcing his very consumerist-sounding proposal to "unlock" the pay-TV set-top and disrupt a "$20 billion" set-top leasing business that nets operators "$6 billion to $14 billion" annually, Wheeler cited figures taken directly from the other side. The former data was cooked up by Public Knowledge, which based its findings on earlier revenue figures released last year by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut, who compiled highly redacted data given to them by the pay-TV companies themselves and somehow came up with precise conclusions.
Even the Future of TV Coalition — the group of pay-TV companies and cable-industry lobbying orgs banded together to fight Wheeler's proposal — thinks Google was in the same room with the FCC Chairman when he rendered his plan.
"How does Google have a box that could possibly comply with the FCC's proposal when an intentionally vague framework of the proposal was announced just two days ago, and when the FCC says there are still numerous technical issues to be addressed?" the coalition asked.
And how could Google do this "when no technical specifics are yet available to the public?" the group added. "Chairman Wheeler's 'fact sheet' says a new 'independent open standards body' will be formed to determine technical specifications for these new devices, a process that could take years. Yet Google already has a working box?"
In the six months between when the FCC's Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC) rendered its CableCard successor proposals back in September, and Wheeler's proposal last week, the pay-TV industry had ample time to spin a pretty compelling counter-narrative.
And certainly, amid a blizzard of meetings with, and ex parte filings sent to, the FCC, operators and orgs like the NCTA and American Cable Association tried.
Why are we having this discussion, they asked, when multiscreen apps open up the pay-TV ecosystem to virtually any Android smartphone, along with myriad OTT devices, including Google Chromecast? Why is this relevant when virtually every top operator is experimenting with IP-based delivery systems that require no set-top at all?
Helping Wheeler announce his proposal during an afternoon press conference last week, a senior FCC official even noted, "The days of needing a set-top box are over."
Of course, that statement begged a few existential questions regarding the day's proposal and subsequent event. But in deciphering decisions by large government agencies, it's often more useful to ask about the "who" rather than the "why."
And in this case, Google, the company with the biggest market cap on the planet, is the who.
05-02-2016, 14:28 #3
ICYMI: FCC proposes set-top rules overhaulJanuary 27, 2016 | By Daniel Frankel
In the FCC's latest attempt to open the pay-TV set-top market to third-party retail sellers like TiVo, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler has formally proposed fundamental changes to rules governing set-top technology.
"This week, I am sharing a proposal with my colleagues to tear down the barriers that currently prevent innovators from developing new ways for consumers to access and enjoy their favorite shows and movies on their terms," Wheeler said. "The new rules would create a framework for providing device manufacturers, software developers and others the information they need to introduce innovative new technologies, while at the same time maintaining strong security, copyright and consumer protections. Nothing in this proposal changes a company's ability to package and price its programming to its subscribers, or requires consumers to purchase new boxes."
Wheeler's decision to follow up on proposals made in September by the FCC's Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC) committee is a blow to pay-TV operators. Congress had set up the committee last year to -- once again to explore technologies that could open up the pay-TV set-top market to consumer electronics companies and others. Since there was no mandate that Wheeler act on DSTAC's proposals, pay-TV companies and groups representing them, including the National Cable Telecommunications Association, hoped the chairman would take no action at all.
But he did. And on Wednesday, a group of 47 pay-TV operators and programmers, representing about every major brand in the pay-TV industry, announced that they have formed an alliance, the Future of TV Coalition, to oppose Wheeler's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
In promising to "unlock" the pay-TV set-top, Wheeler described a proposal that sounded suspiciously like AllVid, the DSTAC proposal the pay-TV industry has been stridently resisting.
Wheeler's proposal did address a core concern for the operators, keeping channel lineups dictated in program licensing negotiations in place.
The proposal breaks down into three mandates for pay-TV operators:
> They must furnish consumer electronics brands and other alternative set-top makers with "service discovery" -- that is what content is available to consumers.
> Operators must share their "entitlement" information -- that is information about what the device is allowed to do with the content. This is where channel lineup considerations come in.
> Operators must also furnish "content delivery" -- in other words, the video programming itself.
In announcing his proposal, Wheeler cited data compiled by vocal opponents of the pay-TV set-top leasing business.
"Today, 99 percent of pay-TV customers lease set-top boxes from their cable, satellite or telco providers," Wheeler said. "Pay-TV subscribers spend an average of $231 a year to rent these boxes, because there are few meaningful alternatives.
"Over the past 20 years, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185 percent while the cost of computers, televisions and mobile phones has dropped by 90 percent. It doesn't have to be this way," he added.
Meanwhile, in response, virtually every large and mid-sized pay-TV operator, from Comcast to Cablevision to Dish Network to Frontier Communications to WOW!, announced Future of TV. The group also includes the NCTA and the American Cable Association, as well as a few programmers, like TV One and Revolt.
For now, the No. 1 priority for the coalition seems to be keeping Wheeler and the FCC away from adopting AllVid, a proposal which would require operators to install a decoding device on their network that would enable third-party set-tops to work in their ecosystem.
"American consumers have never had more freedom to find and watch the shows they love in different ways – from a la carte, to smaller packages, to traditional or new Internet providers and above all the burgeoning marketplace for streaming devices and video apps. But AllVid would slam the brakes on this progress and harm consumers. It's the ultimate example of the government trying to fix something that isn't broken," said coalition Co-Chairman Nomi Bergman, president of Bright House Networks.
- read this FCC statement
05-02-2016, 14:33 #4
Google Draws Wrath Of AT&T, Pay-TV Industry On FCC Set-Top ProposalREINHARDT KRAUSE
AT&T on Wednesday became the latest pay-TV company to lash out at Google parent Alphabet in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to open up the set-top box market to more suppliers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week proposed a new rule that would make it easier for consumers to switch from set-top boxes rented from cable TV companies to devices sold by consumer electronics or Internet companies.
Pay-TV providers such as Comcast lease broadband cable modems as well as set-top-boxes to consumers, charging them on a monthly basis. The FCC aims to make programming bundles sold by pay-TV companies accessible from a wider range of devices.
After Wheeler announced the initiative, Google followed up by demonstrating a set-top box to Congressional staffers at its Washington D.C. office, according to the “Future of TV Coalition,” a lobbying group formed by cable TV companies, industry groups, programmers and others.
AT&T, in a blog post on Wednesday, took a shot at Google.
“When you get beyond all the hype, Google and its affiliated proponents of this technology mandate are simply trying to take our competitive service and repackage it as their own, without ever having to negotiate with us or with the content owners with whom we had to negotiate to create our service offering. It’s akin to the FCC mandating that we get access to Google’s home page so that we can redesign and rebrand it as our own,” said Stacy Fuller, AT&T vice president of federal regulatory issues.
A Comcast blog post last week said that companies concerned about the FCC proposal include: set-top box maker Arris Group, Cisco Systems and Roku, as well as Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Viacom.
Scott Cleland, head of consultancy Precursor Group said: “The FCC would be giving Google access to most of the benefits and business value of their pay-TV competitors for free. The real story here is Google wants to add TV advertising as their next-most-coveted market to dominate.”
05-02-2016, 14:36 #5
AT&T: While the Future of TV is Apps, the FCC is Locked in the Box of the PastBy Stacy Fuller, AT&T Vice President of Federal Regulatory
February 3, 2016
Google has proposed that the FCC impose a new technology mandate on all pay-TV providers (MVPDs) purportedly “to ensure the commercial availability of navigation devices used by consumers to access services from MVPDs.” Based upon press coverage, the FCC seems enamored with that misguided proposal. Instead of just listening to a few favored companies hoping to game the system solely for their own financial advantage, the FCC should take a look around at the abundance of competitive options the market is delivering to consumers today.
In my house alone – and trust me, I am far from tech-savvy – I can access DIRECTV, as well as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other over-the-top (OTT) services on my tablet, computer, mobile phone and TV. I need only one gateway set-top box (STB) in my home that works with all of our televisions (without additional STBs on each set) through an “open standard” called RVU. AT&T U-verse and other pay-TV and OTT services are available on the Xbox. I didn’t even mention Roku, Google Chromecast, Kindle Fire and Apple TV – there are more than 450 million retail devices and counting in use that can receive pay-TV and OTT services. More than that, virtually every content provider on the planet has an app to provide consumers with access to its content. The video “app” model has enabled consumer choice without any need for government or regulatory mandates. Indeed, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the future of TV is apps.” (Emphasis added)
As the market for video has become even more competitive, consumers have more choices than ever to watch what they want, when they want it and on the device of their choosing anywhere they happen to be. Apps have enabled such competition by enabling content companies to directly reach their consumers. Apps have enabled smart phone, television, tablet, computer and game console manufacturers to provide their distinct user interfaces, features and functionality. At the same time, apps respect the ability of Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, PlayStation Vue and many others to compete through their own user interfaces, features, and functionalities when a consumer chooses their app.
So, if the market is working, what are we really talking about here? When you get beyond all the hype, Google and its affiliated proponents of this technology mandate are simply trying to take our competitive service and repackage it as their own, without ever having to negotiate with us or with the content owners with whom we had to negotiate to create our service offering. It’s akin to the FCC mandating that we get access to Google’s home page (and all of the contract rights and algorithms that go with it) so that we can redesign and rebrand it as our own.
What does the consumer get out of this? Well, as we have seen in other areas, not much. In fact, consumers would lose protections they have today in areas such as privacy, emergency alerts and children’s advertising. Let’s keep in mind that this proposal is coming from the company that collects more personal and private information from unsuspecting consumers than any other company. Despite statements that the FCC will take care of these things, it is unclear under what authority they could do so. Make no mistake – Google is not pushing this proposal to benefit consumers; Google is pushing this to benefit Google.
Nor would Google be required to provide consumers all of their pay-TV provider’s video channels, such as minority-oriented programming, much less make it easy to find if they are offered. Not everyone can be at the top of search results, after all. In fact, the Google proposal would not require that third party manufacturers honor the licensing terms, such as channel placement and advertising restrictions that programmers and pay-TV providers have agreed to. And advocates of that proposal have clearly stated that they should not have to.
Moreover, someone has to pay to implement the Google proposal (hint – it won’t be Google). If adopted, the Google proposal would mandate the development of a host of new technologies and specifications that do not exist today. This would take years, and it won’t come cheap. As always, it would be consumers that bear these costs, and they would have to do so whether they want a separate box to deliver content or not. Certainly given the pace at which apps are proliferating, most likely not. Not to mention the potential for customer confusion this would generate when consumers have questions on how to receive our services on these boxes.
The American consumer, at the end of day, is going to pay a bundle for this unnecessary, backward-looking technology mandate through higher prices, less privacy protection, less content diversity and increased customer confusion. The FCC Chairman claims that he is trying to promote consumer choice. But the market already is delivering a plethora of choices, with the promise of many more to come as pay-TV providers, OTTs and device manufacturers ceaselessly invest and innovate to provide consumers the content they want, when, where and how they want it. Rather than attempting to fix a market that is working with a Google-devised technology mandate that will be obsolete before it is ever implemented, the Commission should take a look around at the abundance of devices that consumers are using today to access video services. The statutory goals of Section 629 are clearly being met in ways no one could have even imagined when Congress adopted the objective in 1996. It’s time for the FCC to put consumers, not special interests, first, and reject Google’s ill-conceived proposal.
06-02-2016, 06:55 #6
PR: Secret Google Field Trip To Demonstrate Technology the FCC Says Doesn’t Exist
Industry coalition suspects Google/FCC collusion
January 27, 2016
(Washington, D.C.) Staffers in Congress received an unusual off-the-record email Thursday, inviting them to an invite-only meeting at Google’s DC office to “test drive” something called the “competitive video solution”.
Amazingly, Google plans to demonstrate its new AllVid-style TV set top box, presumably in order to build support for the new rules being considered by the FCC on video competition announced to much fanfare just this week.
But this raises a burning question: how does Google have a box that could possibly comply with the FCC’s proposal when an intentionally vague framework of the proposal was announced just two days ago; when the FCC says there are still numerous technical issues to be addressed; and when no technical specifics are yet available to the public? Chairman Wheeler’s “fact sheet” says a new “independent open standards body” will be formed to determine technical specifications for these new devices, a process that could take years. Yet Google already has a working box?
(And if they do have a working box already, why on earth do we need a yearlong rulemaking proceeding and a sweeping government mandate – unless this new box won’t work without a government thumb on the scale.)
If we didn’t know better, we might think Google had a sneak preview of the FCC’s new proposal. Or maybe they’re just amazingly confident they will be able to dominate the supposedly “open” standards setting process, ramming through specs cooked up in Google’s Silicon Valley labs. Confidence that may be justified since Google reportedly held a similar off-the-record confab with the FCC staff late last year – a great opportunity for them to shape this AllVid 2.0 regulation from the beginning.
If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for the openness of the regulatory process, or for independent and minority programmers and their advocates who have been sounding the alarm against the FCC’s new rule.
Nor does it bode well for viewers, who already endure Google reading their email and tracking their Internet searches – and could now be hoodwinked into handing over detailed, individualized records of what they watch on TV without having to live by any of the privacy protections that Congress requires of other pay TV providers..
This secretive demonstration is also especially troubling to the many companies, organizations, and engineers who worked for over a year side by side with Google on the FCC “DSTAC” committee that reported to the FCC Chairman last year. During that entire process, Google never hinted that it had built a new navigation box or offered to bring committee members in to its offices for a demonstration. We suppose they were saving the goodies for invitation-only, Top Secret meetings far from the prying eyes (and open records requirements) of the DSTAC Committee.
Or perhaps its current “demonstration” is little more than a fantasy – a Potemkin set top box that will undoubtedly look good on the surface, but tells us virtually nothing about how it might exploit the many plausible loopholes in any new FCC mandates that could hurt creators and consumers.
Either way, the secrecy and subterfuge shouldn’t be tolerated and professional staffers who know the ropes and are unlikely to be swayed by a flashy demo and a Golden Ticket. The AllVid scheme being flogged by Google and the FCC is unfair and destructive to values held far too dearly on Capitol Hill – undermining free market competition and putting a government thumb on the scale for powerful incumbents like Google, and making it harder for those serving communities of color and providing diverse and independent programming to make the video ecosystem work.
We wish Google good luck with its demonstration. And we hope the staffers coming in for the show can see through the spin and take a hard, rigorous look at how Google wants to build a new business by taking a free ride on the labors of others. And the damage this could do the Future of TV.
06-02-2016, 06:59 #7
Television’s Trojan horseCatherine Pugh
The celebrated story of the Trojan horse involves the ancient Greeks tricking their way into Troy by leaving a giant wooden horse on its shores. Inside the giant structure was an army of attackers, but the Trojans were fooled into believing it was a gift from the gods. This is how the famous saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” became immortalized.
African American and other minority communities have seen many such “gifts” in recent years. A decade ago, for example, we were told that a la carte television – buying cable channels individually – would allow consumers to save a bundle.
But then the Government Accountability Office and countless other studies found that the proposal would actually drive costs up and that it would be the death knell for minority-focused networks such as TV One, BET, Univision and Revolt TV. Minority networks thrive when distributors include them in popular packages, just like boutiques thrive at malls with large anchor stores.
Now comes a new proposal supported by Big Tech – Google, Amazon, TiVo, and others – to impose a new federal mandate on the television industry called “AllVid” that would, once again, supposedly save money and increase consumer choice.
Another Trojan horse? It certainly seems so. And this time from companies with dismal track records of hiring and promoting people of color.
In simple terms, AllVid regulations would require existing television distributors like cable and satellite companies to hand over their programming to competitors like Google who would then repackage and resell it themselves. The AllVid companies wouldn’t have to do the hard work of negotiating for programming rights like every other distributor has to; they would just free-ride on rights negotiated by their competitors.
Even worse, the AllVid companies wouldn’t have to respect most of the licensing terms and conditions on which small and minority networks depend. They could drop those networks, add new layers of advertising, and disregard agreements on vital terms like program schedules, channel placement, and advertising rights.
But the destructive impact of AllVid doesn’t end there. Under such a federal mandate, AllVid companies could place adult programming next to children’s programming, offer pirated copies of shows and movies alongside legitimate programming, ignore the rules that protect the privacy of your television viewing habits, flout rules limiting aggressive marketing to children, and even potentially block or limit emergency broadcast messages.
Meanwhile Big Tech would do what it does with everything it touches – sell the data about your individualized television viewing habits to advertisers. Big Tech would be like Big Rambo in our television ecosystem, sucking out profits from smaller networks and destroying the fountain of creativity in television and video that our viewers adore.
Alfred Liggins, the CEO of the wildly successful African American TV One network, summed up the problems with AllVid best, arguing in a recent column that it is “a sweetheart deal” for Big Tech, allowing them “to poach the programming rights negotiated by pay-TV companies and others.” The result, he says, would be to dry up revenue that small and minority-focused networks depend upon to fund new programming and “cause the ‘Golden Age of TV’ that everyone celebrates today to collapse.”
Big Tech says the AllVid mandate is needed for the simple and narrow goal of spurring competition in set-top television boxes used by satellite, telco and cable providers. But that is a red herring argument because the apps revolution is making telco, satellite and cable TV programming widely available on smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.
These apps are already available on hundreds of millions of devices, and innovative set-top box alternatives like Roku and Apple TV are giving consumers more options than ever before. Streamers with original programming like Netflix are also more popular than ever, boasting more subscribers than any other video provider.
Big Tech may have a powerful lobby in Washington, but that’s not a good reason for the federal government to pass massive new regulations on a vibrant marketplace that has produced so many video choices and new video devices.
And if the FCC even begins to consider rules in this area, it should observe the Hippocratic oath and first do no harm to small and minority programmers, to the creators of television programming, or to a television ecosystem that is thriving for consumers.
Pugh, a Democrat, is the majority leader of the Maryland Senate and president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
06-02-2016, 07:08 #8
AllVid proponents are trying to manage competition, not defend or enhance it
Google, Tivo, Sony and others want the FCC to require every provider of pay TV to let these companies put a box on top of your TV that intercepts the shows and channels that you paid for and repackage them.
And not only would they not pay one thin dime for this privilege, they also would be allowed to wrap their own advertising around the programs you watch.
November 27, 2015
You often hear talk about a “Golden Age of Television” that’s under way, from The Sopranos and The Wire to Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot. And as someone who’s sat in front of the box since the days of Davy Crockett, it’s undeniable that there’s a supernova of video competition, including cable, satellite, fiber and Internet-streaming video.
From portal apps such as Roku, Apple TV or Sling to free and paid streams such as those created by YouTube, HBO, CBS and various professional sports leagues, the video consumer today is king.
But those basic facts about “television” — as undeniable as they seem — are being challenged at the FCC right now by a group of Big Tech companies that want to put all these competing sources of entertainment and information in one place where they can monitor and control them. It’s a proposal called “AllVid,” and unless the FCC finds the common sense and backbone to give it the quick burial it deserves, the future of television is going to change — and not for the better.
Companies such as Google, Tivo, Sony and others that support AllVid want the FCC to require every provider of pay TV — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Dish, DirecTV, every last one of them — to let these Allvid companies put a box on top of your TV that intercepts the shows and channels that you paid for and repackage them, allowing them to move channels around the dial, manage the flow of content and monitor and track your choices in order to sell more information about you to hungry advertisers, much as Google does already to your email and Internet searches.
And not only would they not pay one thin dime for this privilege, they also would be allowed to wrap their own advertising around the programs you watch. In fact, by shredding the arrangements under which distributors cut deals with content providers, and by forcing all cable boxes to interact with their technical standards, the Big Tech firms would be adding costs while they benefit at the viewers’ expense.
Their proposal sounds bizarre, but their rationale is even more otherworldly. AllVid proponents claim in their FCC filings that this proposal would increase competition and choice in the video marketplace.
How’s that again? Is there anybody who thinks that between traditional pay and broadcast TV, the new streams flooding over the Internet (whether free ones such as YouTube or paid ones such as Netflix), or devices such as Apple TV or Amazon Fire, that there’s not enough to watch? There’s a reason why today’s world is already called “TV Everywhere.”
In fact, the AllVid proponents are trying to manage competition, not defend or enhance it. They’re looking for a sweetheart deal that would let them scrape programming off of other systems that have cut distribution deals with studios and other content providers, and then repackage and resell them through AllVid.
When USA buys Mr. Robot, for example, it carefully negotiates the time it will be shown, the extent and nature of commercials and a plethora of other terms. And USA in turn negotiates with the big multichannel distributors for additional terms, like what other channels it will be near and whether it will be on a basic or premiere tier of service. But all those economically vital terms would be upended by AllVid, disrupting the revenue streams that fund production of these great new shows in the first place. This isn’t about “disruption” — it’s about asking for a free ride on something that others have worked hard to deliver to an enthusiastic audience of consumers.
One of the few ideas the political spectrum gathers around, particularly in a campaign season, is that regulation isn’t about helping the regulated. The left bemoans regulators who are held captive by the companies they’re there to regulate. The right assails “crony capitalism,” by which political influence is turned into economic gain for the favored few. Both sides, therefore, ought to take a cold and hard look at this attempt to poach the entire television system by asking the FCC to do something the market never would.
Ev Ehrlich is president of ESC Co., an economics consulting firm, and was undersecretary of commerce from 1993 to 1997.
Última edição por 5ms; 06-02-2016 às 07:16.
12-02-2016, 06:55 #9
CenturyLink to conduct metered broadband trial later this year
February 11, 2016 | By Sean Buckley
As CenturyLink continues to expand the availability of higher speed copper and 1 Gbps GPON service, it is considering whether implementing metered usage plans could boost its broadband revenue base.
Speaking to investors during its fourth quarter earnings call, Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink, said that it will trial metered usage sometime this year.
However, CenturyLink did not provide any specific details about which markets the trial will be conducted in, nor what the metered pricing plans would be for its copper and FTTH-based products.
"Regarding the metered data plans; we are considering that for second half of the year," Ewing said during the earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "We think it is important and our competition is using the metered plans today and we think that exploring those starts and trials later this year is our expectation."
The idea of CenturyLink metering broadband or implementing usage caps is not entirely new. In 2013, a number of end-users in a DSL Reports forum said they were confused about the telco's bandwidth cap and usage policies. A group of users were given a warning they went over their cap, while other "heavy users" got no warning or were told the service provider does not implement usage caps.
Nor is CenturyLink alone in looking at some form of metered broadband billing. Fellow telco Cincinnati Bell's CFO Leigh Fox said during the Wells Fargo 2015 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in November 2015 that metered billing could create another new revenue opportunity, with a particular emphasis on power users who are using their broadband lines to access over-the-top video content. However, Fox did not reveal if Cincinnati Bell had any specific metered billing plans.
Regardless of its plans for metered billing, a near-term priority for CenturyLink will be on returning its broadband base back to growth. Due to the new credit policy it implemented in mid-year 2015 -- one that targets users who sign up for service and don't pay their bill -- subscribership declined about 22,000 during the quarter.
Glen Post, CEO and president of CenturyLink, said that with the majority of the decline related to the credit issues is behind them it could start seeing some broadband growth in the first quarter.
"We hope we worked in most of that fourth quarter, so we think those changes we made last year on the credit requirements and the higher prices, ... hopefully we will see ... what that can be in the first quarter," Post said.
At the same time, the service provider continues to increase the amount of homes that can get 40 Mbps or higher on its copper network as well as expanding its GPON-based FTTH network. As of the beginning of the year, CenturyLink passed over 940,000 homes with its GPON network and 490,000 businesses, while providing over 30 percent of its market area with speeds of 40 Mbps or higher.
"While we are focused on specific actions to drive sales revenue growth of our strategic product and service in 2016 and beyond, we expect to drive further penetration of our consumer business and GPON footprint of over 900,000 households and almost 500,000 businesses, and have 3 million households enabled for Prism TV service. And we expect to continue to expand high bandwidth data services GPON and Prism, enabling further revenue upside opportunities," Post said.
Here's a breakdown of the company's key metrics:
Consumer: Due to gains in its broadband Internet and Prism IPTV results, total consumer segment revenues were $1.51 billion for fourth quarter 2015, up 1.3 percent year-over-year from fourth quarter 2014.
Within the consumer segment, strategic consumer revenues were $773 million in the quarter, a 6.3 percent increase over fourth quarter 2014.
Throughout 2016 CenturyLink will continue to expand the penetration of its GPON-based fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services into more consumer homes and businesses.
CenturyLink continued to make progress on the IPTV front, adding about 16,000 new Prism customers during fourth quarter 2015 and more than 190,000 addressable homes in new and existing service areas, ending the quarter with nearly 3.2 million addressable homes.
Post said that it continues to see subscriber uptick in Prism IPTV subscribers, particularly in the markets where it offers the services over its FTTH network.
"We grew our Prism markets with GPON capabilities from 600,000 to 700,000 in fourth quarter and we are seeing really strong take rates, where we have GPON in these homes and businesses, so that is a really positive for us," Post said. "We average about, right now, just in this early on, we just released that we got about 15 percent penetration in our GPON markets of the GPON products, so it has grown."
Business/Wholesale: Driven by demand for high-bandwidth data services in fourth quarter 2015, strategic business revenues were $1.60 billion in the quarter, up 1.4 percent year-over-year from the fourth quarter 2014. High-bandwidth data services revenues from business customers grew approximately 9 percent year-over-year.
However, these gains weren't enough to prevent the segment from declining 1.6 percent year-over-year to $2.66 billion, a factor it attributes to decline in low-bandwidth data services and legacy revenues which were partially offset by growth in high-bandwidth data services revenues.
From an overall financial perspective, CenturyLink reported core revenues of about $4 billion in the fourth quarter 2015.
Operating revenues were $4.48 billion, up slightly from $4.44 billion year-over-year from the fourth quarter 2014 due to the increase in revenues from CAF-II support during fourth quarter 2015, along with strength in high-bandwidth data services and consumer strategic revenues.
CenturyLink said that these increases "were partially offset by the declines in low-bandwidth data services, as well as the decline in legacy revenues which was primarily driven by access line losses and lower long distance revenues."
For the full-year 2015, operating revenues decreased to $17.9 billion from $18 billion in 2014. Core revenues decreased to $16.1 billion in 2015 from $16.3 in 2014.
Looking forward, CenturyLink said that CenturyLink expects first quarter 2016 operating revenues to decrease compared to fourth quarter 2015 primarily due to anticipated declines in legacy, hosting and low-bandwidth data services revenues.
Shares of CenturyLink closed at $24.59, down 22 cents, or 0.89 percent, in Wednesday afternoon trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
12-02-2016, 09:25 #10
Cutting the Cord (with Strings Attached)
"... metered billing could create another new revenue opportunity, with a particular emphasis on power users who are using their broadband lines to access over-the-top video content ..."
A menos que assinem o serviço OTT da operadora ...
BTW fala-se em "cord cutters" como se Pay-TV e IPTV tivessem a mesma qualidade de transmissão e imagem.
Última edição por 5ms; 12-02-2016 às 09:29.