While Liberty Global continues to prep its HFC networks for DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts, it's not moving ahead with actual D3.1 deployments as quickly as it once planned.
Speaking on the company's fourth-quarter 2017 earnings call last week, Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) executives said they’re continuing to bring their pan-European plant up to speed for the latest version of the industry’s DOCSIS spec. More than 90% of their networks should be ready for DOCSIS 3.1 deployments this year, up from about 75% to 80% last year, said CEO Mike Fries, on the call.
"We are darn near all the way there in terms of having our entire footprint gigabit ready with 3.1," Fries said.
But that doesn't mean Liberty Global is ready to actually pull the trigger on DOCSIS 3.1.Despite initially targeting the fourth quarter of 2017 for D 3.1 field trial trials and pilot deployments, the European MSO is now holding back until an undisclosed later point. Indeed, it made no almost no mention of D3.1 in its earnings release and presentation to financial analysts last week. (See Liberty Global Reveals Next-Gen Plans.)
Only when analysts later questioned Fries did the CEO really address the subject. Emphasizing that Liberty Global already has absorbed most of the capital cost of introducing the new, multi-gig-enabling technology, he basically said the MSO will launch DOCSIS 3.1 when it sees the need and demand from consumers who will pay for higher bandwidth.
"The only cost we'll really incur down the road is for new 3.1 modems," Fries said. "Of course, we'll do that when we're ready and we'll do that in the most economic way possible... We won't just roll out 3.1 indiscriminately; we'll roll it out to customers that pay us more for the higher speeds and the better services."
Get your strategic roadmap to the technology trends and business cases shaping the cable industry! Join us for the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver on March 20-22. Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to network with and learn from industry experts – communications service providers get in free!
In the meantime, Liberty Global is busy boosting broadband speeds it can support with DOCSIS 3.0. On the call, for instance, Fries noted the MSO recently doubled the speeds for half its broadband customer base in Switzerland.
Liberty Global also is furiously deploying its new I-Gg WiFi router, known as Connect Box, to prepare for the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 throughout its 11-nation European footprint. The MSO increased deployments of Connect Box by more than 1 million in the fall quarter, boosting its installed base to more than 6.4 million homes, or 43% of its 14.9 million broadband subscribers, Liberty Global said on the call.
These developments come as Liberty Global, like its cable counterparts across the Atlantic, continues to expand its broadband business. In the fourth quarter, the MSO netted 120,400 data subscribers, boosting its total customer base to nearly 15 million. Germany and the UK led the way with gains of 45,800 and 24,200 broadband subs, respectively.
In a provocative new BBWN webinar, Broadband Success Partners' Jack Burton will delve into cable's next-gen HFC architecture plans and explain why going all-fiber may make more sense for operators right now.
It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
Having the insights needed to proactively resolve issues, often before your subscribers even know that there are issues;
Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.