Time Warner Cable moving to all-IP 'over some number of years,' CEO Britt says

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) will move onto an all-IP technology platform "over some number of years" as it attempts to enhance its video-delivery business, Chairman-CEO Glenn Britt said Friday.


Britt made the comment in a call with analysts following release of the MSO's second-quarter 2012 earnings.

"Whatever the merits of that from an engineering sense, all things IP are the standard that the world is building devices to so that's the standard we're going to end up migrating to, until something better comes along," Britt said.

That migration will, of course, include IPTV with set-top boxes set to roll out next year. Powerful gateway devices that attach to TWC's broadband network are being installed this year, TWC President and COO Robert Marcus said on the same call.

The gateway is expected to pave the way for an all-IP home, Marcus said.

"It'll have six tuners, 1 terabyte of storage. It'll have the DOCSIS 3.0 modem as well as the ability to transcode content from QAM-based video into IP so that it can be consumed by IP devices, including the IP set-tops," he said.

The gateway, in addition to feeding the IP set-tops, will also be the cornerstone of the MSO's IP-based TV Everywhere platform--at least in the home--as TWC works on "expanding the programmers with whom we have out-of-home rights."

Britt has never been a fan of set-tops and has always encouraged the use of non-MSO-provided gear for television reception.

A move to an all-IP infrastructure, while still using set-tops in instances where subscribers have no other option, will expand on his belief that allowing consumers "to get the very best experience is key" for success.

"If somebody wants to use the interface that comes with one device versus another, that's fine; we're always going to have ours and hopefully it'll be good and people will want it, but if there's a better one, as long as they buy video from us, I don't really care," he said.

The gateway, TV Everywhere and the plethora of new IP-based devices to receive and present video is, he said, a throwback to the earlier days of the cable industry where "cable-ready" TVs could receive signals without a set-top.

"When you think about it, the only reason we have set-tops now is that the traditional TV sets could not display all of our services without them," he pointed out. "So, in a way this is--we're going back to the past, we're going back to the future, whatever we're doing."

TWC didn't name the vendors that will supply gateways and IP set-tops. However, the gateway device described is similar to the X1 gateway manufactured by Pace (LSE: PIC) that Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has deployed in Boston and Atlanta, FierceCable reported.

Other possible vendors include Arris (Nasdaq: ARRS), which is supplying MSOs with video gateway devices, and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Motorola Mobility, which have also developed video gateways for their respective customers, FierceCable noted.

For more:
 - read the FierceCable article
 - see the earnings-call transcript
 - see TWC's earnings release

Special Report: IPTV earnings in the first quarter of 2012

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