In the run-up to Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Matthias Kurth of Cable Europe.
Matthias joined the organisation as Executive Chairman last October and sits on Cable Europe’s Executive Committee, which has oversight of the cable industry’s main representational duties in Europe. He previously held the position of President of BNetzA* and left behind notable achievements with respect to competition in the telecommunications market.
What stand out as some of cable’s priorities as we look at the state of the industry in 2013?
I have been talking a lot about the consumer since arriving here at Cable Europe, but that’s nothing new for me. Having previously worked as President of BnetzA*, I once called it Europe’s largest consumer protection organization. Having a healthy focus on who we are working for is vital in a business where our direct business relationship with customers is certainly coveted.
So what does the consumer want? The answer to that reveals cable’s priorities. The top priority is not to keep up but to keep ahead of what consumers want. How do we do that? By having the best infrastructure that delivers the best content out there. Consumers don’t really care about what the infrastructure is until it doesn’t work. But they do care more and more about moving their premium content around devices seamlessly and with the sort of high speed cable customers have grown to expect.
So there you have it, we expect to continue upgrading speeds so that consumers have the best quality of service out there. Cable Europe’s members are offering 100Mbps across Europe but speed for speed’s sake isn’t interesting. What is interesting is the high quality experience consumers can have with our continually upgraded networks. We are proud of the contribution we make to Europe’s high quality infrastructure. And it keeps customers coming back for more which, of course, makes everyone happy.
Can you tell us a bit about the importance of investing in next generation broadband to keep these positive trends on track?
Investment and innovation go hand in hand, it’s as simple as that. Cable’s ultra fast broadband services are achieved by relentless re-investment in our networks. We invest, on average in Europe, around 20-25% of revenues annually. And when talking CAPEX, it is worth recalling that the expenditures are made with the goal of both adding value and creating future benefits – for both the consumer and our businesses. There is an element of risk for the investors who make careful decisions based on consumer demand and other vital market condition indicators.
Last year was a turning point where Cable Europe opened Cable Congress with a press briefing that shared the news of 7% top-line revenue growth across the industry. We attributed strong revenue and subscriber growth to a harvest from steady investments that have brought us to where we are today: providers of a great service over a super infrastructure. A recent European Commission report had some great feedback for us. It said that:
- Cable networks account for the next largest contribution to standard broadband coverage
- The most important coverage across Europe or fixed next-generation access (NGA) is from cable
- Docsis 3 cable is the biggest contributor to rural NGA coverage (RNC)
- Docsis 3 services over the cable networks make a very important contribution to the availability of NGA in the study countries
- Cable networks make about the same contribution to rural coverage as WiMAX
So it would seem that our investments help bring us to the point of having an infrastructure that is recognized by the European Commission for its wider benefits.
One of Europe’s most prominent tech women recently reminded us of the fibre power in cable networks. European Commissioner Neelie Kroes tweeted a photo of a piece of fibre from Cable Europe on her desk. Tell us a bit about the fibre power in cable’s networks and why it matters to consumers in Europe.
Vice President Kroes has the mind of a board member. Neelie always seeks to better understand business. If you ever have had a meeting with her, you know what I am talking about. She understands the need to encourage investment given its link to innovation. There is an element of pushing for higher speeds in her plan called the Digital Agenda. And we’re already achieving important parts of the Digital Agenda. The numbers in a Solon report that we presented to her personally back this up: 95% of households in the reach of European cable networks will be able to subscribe to high speed internet services from cable in 2020. By the end of 2013 nearly all cable operators will have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0, enabling 100-200 Mbps speeds — and higher. With DOCSIS 3.0 rolled out, 100 Mbps speeds are already becoming the standard and cable is projected to offer 51% of EU households 100Mbps or more by 2013.
Together with Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, Matthias will welcome you to Cable Congress 2013, taking place on 5-7th March at The Lancaster in London.
View the latest conference agenda. With over 850 attendees from 35 countries, Cable Congress is the undisputed annual meeting place for the Who’s Who in the industry. This is where decisions are made, strategy for the year ahead is laid out and the cable industry chiefs gather for special event after special event.