Modern hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cable access networks are very different to their original home television delivery-focussed incarnation, observes Alberto Campos, distinguished technologist at CableLabs, in Louisville, Colorado. ‘Broadcast TV demand has been decreasing,’ he told Fibre Systems. ‘Online or on-demand viewing and broadband internet have been increasing and are the biggest residential items.’ Our appetite for data seems insatiable, with internet connection speeds accelerating at approximately 45 per cent annually, he says.
Cable companies are highly attractive acquisition targets, as illustrated by recent deals such as Liberty Global’s acquisition of Dutch cable provider Ziggo, Vodafone’s acquisition of Ono in Spain and Kabel Deutschland in Germany – not to mention the Comcast/Time Warner deal in the United States. This ‘blitz’ of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the telecoms and cable sectors since 2013 has led to speculation that the European Commission is less concerned than it used to be with maintaining the competitive but fragmented structures once deemed necessary to stabilise market pricing.
Cable operators are used to having the upper hand when it comes to delivering entertainment services to consumers. But as demand for high-speed broadband surges and telecom operators expand into Internet protocol television (IPTV), cable operators must invest in their networks or face losing subscribers to other service providers.