Broadband speeds and exclusive content underlie Liberty Global's growth plans, a strategy underscored by the MSO's decision to start deploying DOCSIS 3.1 this year.
"Our plan is to introduce DOCSIS 3.1 at the end of this year, when the first networks are migrated over," said Colin Buechner, managing director of Access Network at Liberty Global during Cable Congress in Brussels this week, reported Broadband TV News. "We'll do most of the networks in 2018 and that will come with the first 1-gigabit services in the majority of our markets."
Delivering gigabit speed will help Liberty Global retain and attract new customers, especially residential and SOHO users in countries such as Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom, said Rick Westerman, senior vice president of Investor Relations and Corporate Responsibility for Liberty Global, during the Deutsche Bank 2017 Media & Telecom Conference in Florida this week.
European Tour Guide
Rick Westerman, an SVP at Liberty Global, touted the MSO's advantages in areas such as the UK, Belgium and Switzerland.
Liberty Global is heavily investing in ultra-broadband infrastructure in many of its markets, he said.
"We're certainly putting our money where our mouth is in terms of Project Lightning and our ambitious plan to roll out and build networks across 4 million new homes, which would take our network from 50% of the [UK] roughly to two thirds of the country," said Westerman. (See Virgin Throws Down the Ultra Challenge.)
In Germany, the MSO is pushing forward with the analog turnoff -- set to begin in June, which will affect only about 10% of customers that have not already switched to digital access, he said. The move will liberate about 230Mhz of capacity, which will provide Liberty Global with incremental high-definition channels and "more importantly, faster broadband speeds," noted Westerman.
The company also plans to aggressively target the SOHO space, as well as residential prospects. And while its penetration of small and midsize enterprises is negligible, Liberty Global will first focus on smaller businesses, he said.
"We have 90,000 premises covered by SOHO right now. In our market overall, in footprint, we've got 700,000 [SOHOs] we could potentially sell to," said Westerman. "[In SMEs] we have close to 0% market share, really. We're just getting started. There's no reason we couldn't be penetrating 30%, 40%, 50% of those over time. First and foremost that's the opportunity we want to attack."
Despite stiff competition from Swisscom, Liberty Global's broadband investment promises continued payoffs in Switzerland, according to the MSO. Fiber volume improved in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with prior periods. Speed, coupled with exclusive content such as a sports channel, are the foundations of the operator's growth plans here, said Westerman.
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