Posts tagged ‘liberty global’

UPC Hungary and Liberty Global’s Stephen Kelly Win Cable Europe Innovation Awards at #CableCongress

(Brussels, 12 March) Cable Europe, the trade association representing the European cable industry, today awarded UPC Hungary and Liberty Global’s Stephen Kelly with awards for innovation and individual achievement, respectively. Caroline Van Weede, Managing Director of Cable Europe, and Peter Percosan, Partner, Digital Strategy, presented the honours on the second day of Cable Congress taking place this week in Brussels.

UPC Hungary won the Cable Europe Innovation Award, voted on by delegates at Cable Congress, for bringing more than 20 TV apps to legacy set-top-boxes (STBs) in partnership with Metrological and ActiveVideo Networks and others such as YouTube. Bringing online content to pay-TV subscribers is a win-win for the online and pay-TV industries, but last summer, no one had been able to do it at scale without the purchase of costly set-top-boxes (STB). This has provided UPC Hungary with a powerful new service differentiator that is a world’s-first achievement for cable: the ability to offer an almost limitless source of online content to every subscriber, without the cost and time-to-market that rolling out new set-top boxes would have entailed.

In accepting the award, Severina Pascu, CEO of UPC Romania & Hungary, said: “This idea is truly innovative. It’s a beautiful way to bring together innovation and customer experience, and at the end of the day, this started from a real customer need – content anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

The Innovation Award celebrates special projects of cable companies that make a difference for customers and demonstrate opportunities for future growth. Other nominees in the category this year included OptimizAIR by Telenet and Celeno, an airtime management solution to enhance Telenet’s W-Fi Hotspot service and improve the end user experience. In addition, Spanish operator R was nominated for its cloud video engine allowing real-time generation of interactive channels and integrated VOD, catch-up and zapping.

Stephen Kelly, Communications Architect at Liberty Global, was honoured with the Cable Europe Fellow Award in recognition of his many contributions over 15 years in the industry. Kelly was instrumental in the launch of the hugely successful Virgin Media London Underground Wi-Fi solution, which was deployed in advance of the 2012 Olympics. Most recently, he defined Liberty Global’s Pan European Wi-Fi Architecture, which is being rolled out across its footprint. He has also been a key contributor to CableLabs’s development of industry-wide Wi-Fi specifications and standards.

For the latest news on Cable Congress, please visit www.cablecongress.com, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow all of the discussion live using #cablecongress.

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Cable Decision Makers Take Stage This Week at #CableCongress

Brussels edition will highlight dynamic connections in the cable ecosystem

(Brussels, 9 March 2015) Cable Europe’s Cable Congress, the premier annual industry gathering, returns to Brussels, the decision-making centre of Europe, between 11-13 March. The 2015 programme will focus on dynamic connections in the cable ecosystem and feature a star-studded line-up of C-level executives across cable, content, technology and new media.

To kick off the event, Cable Europe will present brand new EU28 statistics from IHS on the latest growth trends in the European cable industry. Europe’s cable industry now serves more than 112 million Revenue Generating Units (RGUs), the industry metric measuring the number of TV, internet and telephony subscriptions.
More statistics on revenue and subscriber growth in these three product areas will be unveiled during a Day 1 press conference taking place on 11 March at 9:30 at The Square in Brussels.

“Cable Congress could not be happening at a more exciting, transformational time for our industry,” said Executive Chairman of Cable Europe, Matthias Kurth. “Technology is moving at an incredibly fast pace, driving the creation of new business models, platforms and services that can offer the consumer all the content they want, when they want, where they want it, to any device. But cable provides much more than simply connectivity or content. Thanks to several waves of investment-driven innovation, cable technology today offers an enhanced TV experience and state of the art broadband access. I’m excited to hear more from decision makers across the ecosystem on how we can continue to be a key enabler of a premium digital lifestyle.”

In addition to the release of new industry data, the 2015 Cable Congress programme is packed with engaging sessions and high-profile executive appearances, including:

  • Leading C-suiters on winning strategies in an era of transformation, including Mike Fries (Liberty Global), Guillaume de Posch (RTL Group), Matt Brittin (Google Europe), Philipp Humm (Vodafone) and Manuel Cubero (Vodafone & Kabel Deutschland)
  • All-CEO “footprint focus” on Central and Eastern Europe with Severina Pascu (UPC Romania / Hungary), Harald Rösch (Blizoo Media and Broadband), Levente Málnay (AMC Networks International – Central Europe) and Tomasz Żurański (Vectra).
  • Globally renowned trend analyser Shari Swan, CEO & Founder of Streative Branding
  • CTOs from Liberty Global, Ziggo, ONO and NBNCo.
  • An exclusive interview with BEREC Chair 2015, Fátima Barros.
  • A focus on finance and dealmaking with Marisa Drew (Credit Suisse), Andrew Barron (ComHem), Burkhard Koep (Altice) and Clif Marriott (Goldman Sachs) and Andrea Salvato (Liberty Global)

New content, programme updates and interviews are being added regularly to www.cablecongress.com.

Net Neutrality: have we lost sight of what this issue is really about? #cablecongress

Dominating the political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate about Net Neutrality is far from resolved.

WWW

But have we lost sight of what this issue is really about?

Speaking at the ANGA COM congress in Köln, Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global, was asked for his viewpoint on the Net Neutrality debate. His response was immediate and unequivocal. “In my thirty years in the industry, I have never encountered a topic that is less well understood, that is so misinterpreted, misused, and I might even say abused, by different people in the ecosystem of the debate than this.”
With his global perspective, Fries’ frustration is understandable given the timing of his words in the early summer of 2014. The FCC’s examination of the Net Neutrality issue had pitched US commentators, lobbyists and PR machinery at levels of near hysteria. Not many issues of technical legislative detail have US citizens demonstrating in the streets of Washington DC and command headline slots on primetime satirical TV shows.
The Net Neutrality debate in Europe has thus far been conducted in calmer tones, but there’s no doubt that there’s just as much to play for. Fries’ concern that the issue is too important to be hijacked is true on both sides of the Atlantic.

Freedom to grow

When the internet was created 25 years ago, one of the core principles set out by its founders was that there should be a level playing field for those using the internet, irrespective of size and provenance. That principle has been one of the cornerstones of its phenomenal success. The other has been freedom from prescriptive regulatory measures which could have stifled investment, innovation and growth.
Yet the internet of today is a very different place from that of 1989 and the desire to intervene and regulate is perhaps inevitable. The exponential growth of traffic could hardly have been predicted by those early web visionaries. Networks have become increasingly congested, not just by sheer volume but by the variety of types of applications and services with very different needs such as HD video. An open internet remains at the heart of what is being defended; a fair and transparent way to manage the ecosystem to allow the widest variety of services not only to co-exist but to thrive and grow is now the political football.

Access all areas

Fries sees a simple split between two different issues which are being confused. On the one hand, it’s about consumers and the need to ensure that any consumer can go anywhere they want to go on the internet. This, he said at ANGA COM, is a given – and not just for moral or societal motivations. “As a network operator I have no interest in upsetting consumers. And I have no interest Dominating the political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate about Net Neutrality is far from resolved. But have we lost sight of what this issue is really about?

in upsetting content providers. What good does it do me? I lose on both sides.” On the other hand is the issue between corporations, the question of who pays for building and maintaining the internet highway, and how to manage the volume and complexity of traffic to deliver the best quality service to end users, which Fries maintains is what this debate is really about.

A B2B debate

The task in hand for the European Institutions, looking at this issue as part of the “Connected Continent” regulation, is an unenviable one. The heat and noise surrounding Net Neutrality in the US, coinciding with the European elections, has had an inevitable ripple effect. Yet the ingredients in the debate in Europe are not an exact mirror of the US situation. There is of course the need for harmonisation, and where European Member States have initiated their own regulatory initiatives then a levelling of some kind is not only desirable but necessary. Yet backstop powers already exist for National Regulatory Authorities to intervene against service providers when necessary. So any threat of commercial abuse is already taken care of with existing and specific regulation.
The European Institutions need to achieve a considerable feat – that of creating a regulatory infrastructure which is future proof enough to allow continued innovation and investment whilst negating the desire of individual Member States to take standalone action. And all in a context where regulatory powers already exist.

Managing the traffic

At the heart of this lies the unequivocal need for ISPs to apply effective management tools to their networks to ensure quality of service, and the corresponding requirement for them to do so in a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory way. Finding the regulatory balance to enshrine these principles whilst allowing the web to thrive looks set to dominate the agenda for many months to come.
The proposals made by Mrs Kroes in September 2013 are striking the right balance and Cable Europe supports the Commission’s solution. The Parliament and Council should not jeopardise a proportionate outcome, which will keep a thriving internet ecosystem intact.

 

Cable Congress, 11-13 March 2015, The Square, Brussels

Cable is the new cinema

The Net Effect:
Evolving Landscapes on What We Used to Call Television Encouraging Investors

A net effect imageCable is the new cinema. Or so AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan says in this issue of Cable News when talking about TV’s second golden age which many attribute to long-arc shows that define modern TV today. But Sapan calling cable TV the new cinema is more than just pithy CEO talk. It is shorthand for an evolution in how people watch television and connect to the internet.

TV: Hey, We’re Trending!
Consumers are also using a second connected device when watching the long-burning plots that have come to define the television landscape of today. A recent study by Ericsson ConsumerLab tells us that 75% of people multi-task by using mobile devices while watching TV. It’s not hard to guess why Twitter is testing “TV trending”, has teamed up with Neilsen for Nielsen Twitter TV rating and even acquired a social TV analytics firm earlier in the year. It’s easy to make stats sing the right tune but at the same time, it’s impossible to not spot the trend when considering that the number of connected TVs in Europe has exploded by over 120% in the last year according to IHS (see the back page for more detail).

Are you experienced?
Cable industry leaders like to refer to the melded TV/internet offering as an “experience” given the reworking of what was once a mono-directional broadcast into a viewer’s home that has now evolved with the consumer at the centre. Holding the remote control these days means holding a lot more power than even just ten years ago – the viewer can decide when and on which device they want to watch whatever they want. TVs are smarter and they have to be given the increased sophistication of the cable consumer.

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Cable Congress 2013: Cable is the Place to Be

Clearly, the cable industry has become the place to go if you want an easy life. At least, that’s the impression one could get from listening to Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries at this year’s Cable Congress, and from the news that Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann is set to join Dutch cable player Ziggo when he steps down from his current role at the end of the year.

It may be a facile comparison, but contrast Fries with his counterparts at Telefonica and Vodafone, based on comments they made at Mobile World Congress at the end of February: Telefonica’s Cesar Alierta took OTT players to task for not investing in the value chain, while Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has long expressed frustration at the level of regulation imposed on telco players in Europe.

Fries, on the other hand, noted that the cable industry is not suffering from these problems, and indeed that they have a good relationship with regulators at the EU level (though national regulators remain a little less enamored of the cable industry, particularly as regards consolidation). More tellingly, after having talked about what a great position the cable industry finds itself in, he said that the next ten years will “present issues we’ve never encountered”. Imagine Alierta or Colao saying that, and sounding like they relish the prospect?

Clearly, Colao has thought of all this, which may have something to do with Vodafone’s German operation looking at buying the country’s top cable player, Kabel Deutschland. This potential merger also highlights another point Fries made at Cable Congress, namely, the growing importance of quad-play.

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Liberty Global plots cloud Horizon updates, dismisses Netflix threat

CNN Interview with Mike Fries Liberty Global at Cable Congress_SMALLLiberty Global is planning updates to its Horizon platform that include a cloud-based interface, and a better remote, CEO Mike Fries revealed, adding that OTT players like Netflix did not pose a competitive challenge.

Speaking at Cable Congress last week, Fries said that, with Horizon, Liberty Global is aiming to establish a platform “that gives consumers no reason to go anywhere else,” and said that while Netflix has taught the business valuable lessons about how users wanted to access content, its business model was challenged.

Fries said that several new features were coming in the next iteration of Horizon. “One will be a better remote. We have a remote that has a keyboard on the back, for example, so you can easily search for things without poking through a screen.”

Fries also said that Liberty would update Horizon’s user interface, moving it from the set top box to the cloud, allowing Liberty to update and manage it over the web.

“Horizon as a concept is here to stay, but Horizon as a technology will evolve. The user interface will move to the cloud. Network PVR elements of it will be enhanced. Things will get smaller. The UI will evolve as well and get slicker. We’ll bring in new apps and pieces to the puzzle,” said Fries.

However, he would not comment on whether Virgin Media would adopt the Horizon platform or stick to its current TiVo offering, on completion of Liberty’s planned buyout of the UK operator.

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Cable Congress 2013: Review by Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News

Mike Fries live interview on stage at Cable Congress 2013

On the evidence of this year’s Cable Congress, which was held in London on March 5-7, the European cable industry is in much better shape now than at any time since the global financial crisis began in 2008.

However, the challenges it faces, especially in securing new revenue streams in what remains a difficult economic environment, cannot be underestimated.

Take the case of mobile services. In a wide-ranging CNN interview, Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s president and CEO, said it would be important for the company to have a quad play option. After all, telcos do and it is not difficult to achieve, with little capital expenditure required.

However, he then went on to say that Liberty Global has already looked at acquiring mobile companies but found the process hard. Indeed, such companies may have a market share of up to 50-70%, but some mobile subscribers will never take cable services.

Perhaps more tellingly, when pressed Fries conceded that he considered mobile a threat as well as an opportunity.

That was certainly not the view of Ewan Mackay, MD, Cable Industry, EALA, Accenture, who contrasted the problems being faced by the mobile industry, certainly in such areas as the rollout of 4G services, with the manner in which cable has successfully responded to the challenges it faces.

Interestingly, he identified connected home, m Health and B2B sales as accelerated growth areas for cable in the future.

Wi-Fi, too, is also looming on the horizon, thanks in no small part to the activities of such operators as Virgin Media and Ono. The former, according to Kevin Baughan, Director, Metro Wireless, Virgin Media Business, has embarked on its London Underground project – begun ahead of the Olympics last year and still being expanded – due to an interest in Next Generation Wireless. It has also undertaken small cell trials in the cities of Newcastle and Bristol and secured concessions in Leeds and Bradford.

Ono, on the other hand, began a public WiFi trial in Alicante last July. Manuel Sequeira, the company’s director of technology, said that it has been very successful and may now be extended, with “lots of lessons” having been learnt from building access points.

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European Cable Leaders Descend on Europe’s Digital Capital

NEWS RELEASE

European Cable Leaders Descend on Europe’s Digital Capital
Industry expected to report strong top-line & subscriber growth figures for 2012

(Brussels, 4 March) With one day left until Cable Congress 2013 kicks off the European cable industry’s flagship annual event, anticipation is peaking in London where leaders across the cable, content, tech and new media space convene to talk strategy, share opinions and make predictions on the future of the industry.

Cable Congress, taking place on 5-7 March, will start with the opening news briefing which will release new year-end pan-European cable industry data from IHS Screen Digest. Offering a preview of what is to come, Cable Europe, the trade association for the European cable industry, today indicated the new YE2012 European cable figures will show:

  • Positive revenue and new customer growth
  • Strong broadband and telephony performances
  • Continued growth in Digital TV and advanced services like Video on Demand

Comprehensive statistics on growth across cable’s products will be unveiled during the event.

Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, said, “Cable’s continued and steady uptick in new customers is a credit to the industry’s investments in innovation to bring new products, faster speeds and better services to more people across Europe. With so much attention on the industry right now and heightened excitement for cable’s prospects, there’s no better place or time to hear from top decision-makers. It’s an often heard refrain, but this year’s Cable Congress truly promises to be our best ever.”

Cable Congress 2013 features a spectacular line-up. Highlights include:

  • CEO appearances by Liberty Global’s Mike Fries, Virgin Media’s Neil Berkett and ONO’s Rosalia Portela
  • An unmissable meeting of the minds with international CTOs from Comcast (Tony Werner), Kabel Deutschland (Lorenz Glatz), Liberty Global (Balan Nair), Time Warner Cable (Michael LaJoie) and Virgin Media (Dan Hennessy)
  • Executives representing the world’s premier content players, featuring Catherine Powell, The Walt Disney Company EMEA, Jonathan Sichel, Scripps Network Interactive, and Bruce Tuchman, AMC/Sundance Channel, AMC Networks
  • The second annual Cable Europe Awards, honouring contributions from individuals and companies helping to move the European cable industry forward

Cable Europe Executive Chairman Matthias Kurth said: “Cable Congress always puts the industry’s most important topics front and centre. Whether focused on keeping pace with consumers’ connectivity and content needs, investing in the right technologies to maintain leading networks, or securing financing for future growth, cable’s best and brightest will deliver observations and insights that you can’t get anywhere else.”

For the latest news on Cable Congress 2013, please visit www.cablecongress.com, talk to us @CableEurope on Twitter & follow the discussion live on using #CC2013.

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For more information, please contact:

Gregg Svingen
Cable Europe
Director of Communications
M: +32 476 490 603
E: gregg.svingen@cable-europe.eu
Jessica Fernandez Cable Europe
Communications & Office Manager
T: +32 2 556 2104 E: jessica.fernandez@cable-europe.eu

About Cable Europe
Cable Europe is a trade association that groups all leading broadband cable TV operators and their national associations throughout Europe. The aim of Cable Europe is to promote and defend the industry’s policies and business interests at European and international levels, and to foster cooperation among its members. The European cable TV industry services more than 94 million broadband, TV and telephony subscriptions throughout the EU 27 (around 70 million households). www.cable-europe.eu

About IHS Screen Digest
IHS Screen Digest is the pre-eminent firm of industry analysts covering global media markets. Headquartered in London, with offices in New York and Monterey, California, we employ a team of 40 specialist analysts covering film, television, broadband, mobile, cinema, home entertainment and gaming. Our online services and reports provide the information and analysis that hundreds of media companies worldwide base their decisions on. www.screendigest.com

Interview with Matthias Kurth

In the run-up to Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Matthias Kurth of Cable Europe.

Matthias Kurth Executive Chairman Cable Europe at Cable CongressMatthias 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.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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.

Liberty Global to Acquire Virgin Media

Liberty Global and Virgin Media have agreed a deal whereby the international service provider will acquire the UK’s sole large-scale cable operator.

liberty global virgin media_smallThe merger of the two companies will create a service provider with 25 million customers across 14 countries.

“Adding Virgin Media to our large and growing European operations is a natural extension of the value creation strategy we’ve been successfully using for over seven years. Virgin Media will add significant scale and a first-class management team in Europe’s largest and most dynamic media and communications market. After the deal, roughly 80% of Liberty Global’s revenue will come from just five attractive and strong countries – the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries. “Like all of our strategic acquisitions we expect this combination to yield meaningful operating and capex synergies of approximately US$180 million per year upon full integration. But just as importantly, Virgin Media’s market leading innovation and product expertise, particularly in mobile and B2B, will accelerate our own development of these business segments.”

“This deal is good news for the company, its customers and our people. Together, Liberty Global and Virgin Media are in a great position to shake up the industry and bring the full power of digital technology to UK consumers,” said Richard Branson.

More information in Liberty Global’s press release: http://www.lgi.com/pdf/press-release/02-05-Final-Transaction-Announcement.pdf

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