What should cable’s priority be this year?
Go for business. That sounds obvious in general terms but what I also mean is that cable is now well positioned to successfully enter the business segment of the market which is traditionally held by telco incumbents in many European markets. Cable’s strong fibre-powered networks can now support clients with high demands and operators are getting organized internally to cater for these clients and to learn about this new market.
What are the big regulatory issues facing European cable firms in 2012 and how will you respond as a pan-European industry?
There is probably not one answer to this question: there is much happening right now! But from a trade body perspective, I believe the priority is about convincing policy decision makers that cable networks – covering 50% of EU households with broadband (yes it is true) are future proof and that governments or local municipalities shouldn’t therefore be tempted to pour public money in super fast networks in areas where there is already a cable network. Next to that, the issue of copyright is becoming more urgent, in particular the way the European Commission improves the way copyrights are cleared in Europe. The technology world is changing fast and it is more important than ever that rights are be cleared efficiently and swiftly.
Is Europe on the right track to meet its Digital Agenda goals?
Yes absolutely. The coverage target (every European to get access to 30Mbps by 2020) should be reached as most cable customers can already get these speeds today and there are many other technologies out there (fixed and wireless) that will fill the gap in particular in rural areas, if needs be with public funding when no operator has a commercial incentive to venture. The uptake target (50% of households subscribing to a +100Mbps connection by 2020) is quite difficult to predict as this is a question of demand and who knows what that will be eight years from now?It is encouraging to see that European Commission Vice President Mrs Kroes herself is a strong believer of achieving the digital agenda targets with a mix of technologies.
By the way, Europe is actually very well placed in offering out high speed services to its citizens and it is worthwhile keeping in mind that the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway, four European countries, are topping the OECD countries on fixed broadband penetration rates.
What one thing makes you most proud to work in the cable industry?
Innovation. The word is fantastic and there is substance to it as well. This is a sector that many people thought – 10 years ago – would go out of breadth. The cable renaissance – as it is sometimes referred to – is largely due to the fantastic innovation that has taken place at all layers of the operators’ companies but also vendors and content providers. As cable has successfully entered the broadband and telephony place it is – at the same time – devoting tremendous energy on the TV platform and on improving the user experience. As a result, this is an extremely dynamic sector which I am proud to be part of: you can feel the buzz… and I hope it is contagious!
From a personal perspective, what is your favorite technology?
I though a little a bit about it and … concluded it is the iPad. I am amazed how powerful this small device is and how the whole family at home embraced it instantly including my still young children (although we now are sometimes fighting for it and I need to hide it in a secret place). I haven’t been able to stream content from my cable subscription on it nor did I use it as a remote control as my subscription does not allow this yet, but I know this will come soon and I am looking forward to it, although I do not know yet what this means for keeping peace in the family…