Cable MSO Market Trends: Enterprise Services, SD-WAN, Partnerships, and Skinny Bundles

The U.S. cable MSO market continues to be a dynamic area, with operators focusing on enterprise services, the potential for SD-WAN, partnerships to launch wireless service divisions, and introduction of “skinny bundles,” among other trends. Here are some updates from several of the industry’s largest players. 

80-year-old telecom services provider/cable MSO CenturyLink is on arguably its biggest transformation journey yet, reinventing itself internally as closure of its Level 3 acquisition (which recently gained formal approval from several more states) approaches, said Light Reading. Soon, it will be the second-largest enterprise services provider in the U.S., and that means taking its status as an IT-based services company to the next level, including virtualizing its IP core and data centers, migrating to the cloud, and making better use of data it collects. 

In keeping with its increasing focus on the enterprise market, CenturyLink recently rolled out a SAP-specific managed offering designed to make it easier for enterprises to migrate applications to the SAP HANA platform and automate management of those applications, noted Light Reading. Relatedly, the operator recently published a study looking at how and why businesses need to step up their strategic plans for digital transformation, and cautioned that, while SD-WAN (which appears poised for significant growth) can be useful for improving cloud-based application connectivity, it’s not a quick fix for internet offload or cheaper-than-MPLS connections. 

Speaking of SD-WAN, Comcast recently beta-launched an SD-WAN solution geared toward the midsize and large enterprise market, Light Reading reported. Delivered through a partnership with Versa Networks, the solution—paired with gigabit internet services—is being marketed as ‘carrier-grade,’ in the sense that it provides features like the ability to host third-party virtual network functions (VNFs).

This move, Light Reading elaborated, is a logical extension of Comcast’s strategy targeting national and multi-region enterprises, and part of its ambition to expand its business services reach. 

Comcast also recently announced plans to test a remote a newly FCC-authorized, 3.5 GHz spectrum remote radio unit manufactured by Huawei, and soft-launched a set-top box that supports 4K Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. 
Joining in what now is an industry trend, Charter announced plans to become a wireless provider in 2018, RCR Wireless News reported. Like Comcast, the operator will be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) through partnership with Verizon Wireless.

Although unconfirmed by the operator, Charter also appears to be in talks with cable networks about creating a “skinny bundle” of inexpensive streaming options, excluding major sports channels, Light Reading said. This possibility appears both plausible and at odds with the company’s market strategy; it could have a negative affect on higher-value services, or be a hedge against a market trend of price-driven reductions in earnings from service subscriptions.