Don't shed a tear for the cable crowd.
Cable stocks have been hit hard as big telcos have crowded onto their turf. But execs at the National Cable Telecommunications Association's national show in Atlanta insist it's the
of the world that you should pity. Cable execs say they are already grabbing crucial phone market share with their Net calling efforts, even as the telcos are still building costly networks in a bid to take TV viewers.
Cable finance chief John Martin took a shot at Verizon's fiber-to-the-home project, known as FiOS. "We can add more customers in New York in one week than they can in Keller, Texas, in many months," claims Martin. Keller is where Verizon started offering the FiOS service, which promises customers the so-called triple threat of television, Internet and phone service on one bill.
Martin says telcos have "far to go" to compete in video with cable operators like Time Warner and
and satellite companies like
. Martin adds that the cable industry has spent so much on its networks that there will be no major "forklift upgrades" necessary to build out further.
Other cable hard-hitters agree that it will be years before the telecoms have the distribution and content necessary to compete broadly. Still, Wall Street isn't necessarily persuaded. Analysts think that cash-rich phone companies could further chill the cable crowd's growth by rolling out video across their networks.
As a result, all the telcos and cable operators are playing up their success in so-called bundling, the offering of two or more services to a single household. Martin says that currently 40% of customers take two services while 7% take three. He calls the 60% of customers who only take a single service a "tremendous runway for growth."