Rise of the Mid-Tiers

Content Dam Btr En Articles 2012 08 Rise Of The Mid Tiers Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

By Ron Hendrickson

The SCTE's decision to kick off this year's Cable-Tec Expo with a panel of mid-size cable operators apparently has raised some eyebrows. It shouldn't.

Dan Howard, the SCTE's CTO and senior vice president of engineering, pointed out that smaller ops tend to be more agile and innovative than their larger brethren. For example, he said, small ops often lead the pack on the latest technologies, most recently with RFoG and cloud-based and hosted solutions.

"They're actually moving much faster than the big guys," Howard said. "They can do this because they're not the 800-pound gorilla."

Increased vendor interest in mid-tiers and smaller cable operators is a trend we've been watching for a while. Adara Technologies, Evolution Digital, GLDS, and thePlatform are just a few of the more recent examples. Howard said smaller and mid-size ops are attractive to vendors, particularly startups, for several reasons.

Small ops tend to lack the well-established (some might say "entrenched") vendor relationships of the big MSOs, he said, so they're easier to sell to. Being mostly privately held, they need not fear Wall Street backlash when it comes time to spend money on upgrades. And because they're small, they're always looking for inventive ways to do more with less. These traits combine to make smaller ops not just receptive to new ideas, but also eager to try them out.

"You're talking with people who are looking to blaze a trail," Howard said.

Ron Hendrickson is BTR's managing editor. Reach him at ron@broadbandtechreport.com.

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