Merger & Acquisition

The last two years or so have seen a slew of broadband providers rename either themselves or their services. Some are even using a brand name as though it was a company, issuing press releases that scarcely reference the official corporate identity, instead using only the brand name as the protagonist.

In the latter category is Windstream, which routinely issues press releases under the Kinetic name. Charter, which announced the Spectrum brand back in 2014, more recently has adopted the same approach in its press releases.

Never was the saying “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard” more pertinent in the broadband business.

With that in mind, we thought it would be useful for readers if we were to create just such a scorecard. You’ll see it later in this post.

Broadband Brands

Why all the new brands and corporate identities?

“Some brands are switching away from being a geographically parochial brand like Cincinnati Bell to become something broader like Altafiber,” said Lorenzo Coruzzi, associate director at Brand Finance, in an email to Telecompetitor. Brand Finance conducts annual research about the strength of telecom brands from all over the world.

That logic also could explain why Atlantic Broadband became Breezeline.

Another common motivator is the desire to distance a company from its legacy and from the industry’s legacy, noted Professor Jagdish N. Sheth of Emory University, who specializes in branding.

“This is clearly the case with regulated monopolies and utilities including the Bell companies,” wrote Sheth in an email to us.

That could explain why CenturyLink’s enterprise business became Lumen and Cable One became Sparklight.

Companies that are an amalgamation of several others also may adopt a single new name for all the businesses. For example, Stonepeak introduced the name Astound Broadband for its RCN, Grande, Wave, enTouch, and Digital West acquisitions.

As Erik Doescher, vice president of creative services for Pivot Group, noted on a phone call with Telecompetitor, that approach enables a company to get “more bang for the buck” in marketing (Pivot Group is Telecompetitor’s parent company).

Doescher cautioned, though, that “when you decide to make a name change, it needs to be for a really good reason” because in doing so, a company loses its brand equity.

Changing the descriptor that is often part of a company’s name may be a better option for some companies, Doescher said. He cited the example of Pioneer Connect in Oregon, which originally was known as Pioneer Telephone Co-operative.

The Renaming Trend

Some companies’ corporate names are their main brand, as is the case with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, all three of whom were in Brand Finance’s top 10 most valuable telecom brands for 2022. Accordingly, it’s unlikely you’ll see any of those companies making name changes.

Also among the top 10: Comcast’s Xfinity brand (created several years ago) and Charter’s Spectrum brand – a finding that goes a long way to explaining why Charter issues press releases using virtually only the Spectrum name. And while Comcast doesn’t do the same, it does keep the Xfinity name front and center in everything it does.

Source: Brand Finance

Those brands actually are stronger than the corporate names with consumers – perhaps because of the cable industry’s historically poor customer service.

Some of the new broadband brands come from telcos that traditionally have relied primarily on DSL for broadband – a technology that is becoming increasingly obsolete as consumers demand higher bandwidth. Introducing a new brand for fiber service can be a good move for those companies, noted Doescher.

Examples of new fiber broadband brands include Fidium Fiber from Consolidated and Glo Fiber, which Shentel uses for both its consumer and business services. Windstream’s Kinetic brand is another example.

One company that hasn’t renamed itself or rebranded is Frontier, but executives have said the company is exploring that possibility.

Whenever that may occur, we may need to issue a new scorecard. In the meantime, here’s the current scorecard of major new company names and brands introduced within the last five years, most of them within the last two years.

New Broadband Brands

CompanyFormer Name(s)BrandCoverage
AltafiberCincinnati Bell
(owned by Stonepeak)
RCN, Grande, Wave, enTouch, Digital West
(Clarity Telecom LLC)
Vast Broadband
Breezeline (owned by Cogeco)Atlantic Broadband
BrightspeedStates to be divested by Lumen
(owned by Cable One, GTCR, Stephens Capital Partners, The Pritzker Organization) and management team members
Clearwave, certain Hargray Communications Assets
Consolidated Fidium
Lumen TechnologiesCenturyLink (Enterprise Business Unit)
Shentel Glo Fiber
SparklightCable ONE
Windstream Kinetic
Ziply FiberZiply Fiber
States divested by Frontier
Source: Telecompetitor

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