It’s no secret that the cable industry has had great success in taking telephone customers away from phone companies. Most of the attention surrounding this trend focuses on large tier 1 cable MSOs like Comcast and Cox. Their success is well documented and several tier 1 cable companies are now in the top ten list of ‘phone companies,’ considering the total amount of access lines they now control.
This phone success is not limited to large tier 1 players alone. Tier 2 cable MSOs like Mediacom and Suddenlink have also been aggressive with voice services. But among smaller rural tier 3 cable companies, the adoption of voice services has been much slower. That’s beginning to change.
“Our research shows penetration of tier 3 markets is much lower than tier 1 and 2 for cable voice services,” says IBBS Chief Marketing Officer Cynthia Carpenter. IBBS is in the business of empowering rural cable companies with broadband, IP, and voice services. They have over 1 million cable modems under management and their recent acquisition of Single Pipe has put them in the business of offering a voice platform to small rural cable companies, many of whom do not currently have that capability. IBBS sees momentum with these small rural cable companies relative to voice service, albeit not near the growth rates that tier 1 providers enjoy. “It’s slower, but steady,” says Carpenter.
In fact Carpenter says they can’t offer an accurate count of rural cable companies that they empower with voice services because ”…we’ve had so many sales in the last quarter, that it’s hard to give an accurate number right now.” They just recently announced three new voice customers – Davis Communications (Cheney, WA), Nelsonville TV (Nelsonville, OH), and Shenn Heights TV (Shenandoah, PA).
IBBS operates as a wholesale CLEC and offers a SIP hosted voice service for their rural cable customers, using platforms from Metaswitch and Broadsoft. They empower cable companies to get in the voice business without the need to build their own voice infrastructure. They currently have 230 customers total, most of which use them for cable modem and broadband network management.
IBBS sees growing momentum for rural cable companies to catch up to their larger tier 2 and 3 brethren with voice offerings. “We’re actively grooming and continuing to invest in our voice network,” Carpenter says. “We believe there is a real opportunity in rural markets to help rural cable companies turn the corner for voice services.”