CenturyLink CEO Glenn Post’s recent assertion that the company will not be rolling out IPTV in former Qwest markets any time soon apparently won’t prevent the company from launching that service in non-Qwest markets. Or perhaps we should say it won’t prevent the company from announcing the availability of the company’s IPTV service, known as Prism TV, in markets where the service has been available since March or before.
When Telecompetitor reported on CenturyLink’s limited launch of Championship Multiview in Las Vegas in mid-March, we noted that Tallahassee was among the markets with Prism TV—a statement we made based on the Prism TV markets listed at that time in a drop-down menu on the CenturyLink web site. But it wasn’t until yesterday that CenturyLink announced the availability of Prism TV in north Florida—which came in a press release with a Tallahassee dateline and which invites people to see a demo at the company’s Tallahassee retail stores.
Our March discovery wasn’t the first time Telecompetitor stumbled upon a CenturyLink offering that hadn’t been formally announced. Bernie Arnason first noticed the Prism TV branding on the CenturyLink website last August, prior to an official launch.
CenturyLink apparently likes to get some experience with new products and new markets before formally announcing them, perhaps as a means of minimizing the media impact in the event of a glitch. But why announce north Florida now? Is it simply because some pre-established period has passed and the company is now comfortable with a higher profile for the offering in that market? Or was it deliberately timed to come out shortly after the revelation about the Qwest markets? Perhaps CenturyLink wanted to offer some reassurance that it’s still behind IPTV. But if the Tallahassee “launch” isn’t really a launch, how reassuring is this announcement?
CenturyLink cited the need to modernize infrastructure as one of the reasons it plans to hold off on deploying Prism TV in former Qwest territories. And in yesterday’s announcement, Eric Miller, vice president and general manager for CenturyLink in north Florida, echoed the importance of the infrastructure underlying Prism TV.
“CenturyLink has made a significant investment in the area to expand our core fiber network, data switches and components to support CenturyLink Prism TV,” he said. “Our network is more robust than ever and customers will benefit by having a feature-rich alternative to cable and satellite.”
Although the announcement does not provide details, Telecompetitor has previously reported that CenturyLink has deployed Prism TV over ADSL2+, VDSL, and limited FTTH infrastructure. And considering that Qwest deployed VDSL quite extensively, it would appear that some former Qwest markets could support Prism TV in those VDSL markets relatively easily.
The biggest problem with the Qwest markets may be something else that came up on the company’s earnings call earlier this month. Company execs said the first priority in former Qwest markets is to enhance their local focus and stem the erosion of the company’s traditional customer base as those customers switch to alternative service providers.