Cast an eye on small cable TV operators

We spend a lot of time at FierceIPTV talking about small rural telcos and telephone cooperatives offering TV and similar services, and maybe not enough time talking about the small cable TV firms (which in some cases are actually owned and operated by the small telcos).  

The National Cable TV Cooperative (NCTC), which may be to rural cable TV operators what the National Rural Telephone Cooperative is to their telco counterparts, held its NCTC Independent Show last week in GrapeVine, Tex., near Dallas. According to people who have attended, it's a down-home event with family-oriented activities, but one that lures top technology executives and other officials from the nation's small cable TV firms.  

Some technology vendors tend to steer clear of such little-guy conferences because they view marketing to the rural and small operator sectors as a cost that may not result in very large rewards. However, at least one big vendor that has embraced the opportunity is Motorola, and company officials said the market opportunity, after a period of confusion about the broadband stimulus program, may be ripe.  

"The broadband stimulus program in some ways initially slowed down the Tier 3 market as companies tried to figure out what would be covered, and put things off in the hope that it might turn out to be something that would be covered by the program," said Floyd Wagoner, direct of marketing and communications at Motorola Access Networks. "Instead of moving forward, the service providers stalled a little bit, but now you are starting to see some movement."  

Wagoner added that vendors would do well to understand the economics of the small operator sector. "Tier 3 does not mean poor," he said. "It's a segment that can be a rich opportunity for companies that approach it right. It can be a hard market to serve, and sometimes a more costly market to deal with, but a lot can be accomplished through an event like NCTC."

It sounds like it might be worth reserving a spot on the calendar next February for NCTC's Winter Education Conference and Technology Showcase. If you attended the NCTC event last week, or are a member of the NCTC, we would love to hear from you about what's going on in your network. Post a comment on our site and let us know, or send us an e-mail.