Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cable goes for the quadruple play

CNET News.com offers up another article about last week's joint venture between Sprint and four major cable companies to provide consumers with a quadruple play -- bundles that includes high-speed data, telephony, TV, and now wireless.

Craig Moffett at Sanford C. Bernstein said, "The problem with bundles is that you have to pay customers to take them by giving them a discount. But if there is an opportunity to create unique products that aren't available on their own, there is potential for something interesting."

Some of the new product ideas that Sprint Nextel and the cable companies have talked about include a converged wireline-wireless voice mailbox, access to unique video content and the ability to remotely control digital video recorders, or DVRs. The details of these services haven't yet been worked out. But with services like mobile video, it's easy to see how cable companies such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which own some of their own content, could use Sprint Nextel's wireless network as a new sales channel.

On whether the deal will help spur on the nascent mobile TV market, Jim Penhune at Strategy Analytics said, "It will be very interesting to see if a deal like this will be able to push usage and demand for video services on the phone. If you can get mobile into the bundle, maybe the cell phone will really become the third screen."

This deal is just the opening salvo in the battle between the phone and cable companies. Many think product offerings will end up being quite similar. Penhune added, "Each set of companies is going into the other's market. The question is, who can get there faster? When you get down to it, it's a lot easier to launch a VoIP service to compete against the phone companies than to build a new network to compete against the cable companies on video."