Cable operators are some of the most innovative companies you can find, even though this sentiment is not something you often hear. In order to keep up with the somewhat tumultuous waters of the industry, cable companies are required to innovate. The cable industry has been through many changes and has many challenges, but don’t count cable out yet. As we wrote in a recent blog, these companies are not going away anytime soon. According to CableLabs, the industry has spent $200 billion in infrastructure and $185 billion in acquiring companies, and has participated in over $8 billion in venture investment in recent years.
Many of the big cable operators have innovation funds, like this one from Comcast. So as a small startup, you might be wondering what types of technology the cable industry will invest in. We break it down below, but here is a short video that answers the question, "Is my product a good fit for the cable industry?"
The Horizontal Stack
What do I mean by horizontal stack? This is any product or service a user interfaces with – Internet, video, DNS, Wi-Fi, customer service, new business services, etc. Here are a few examples:
- Technology that improves cable speed
Cable companies are interested in any technology that can help improve the speed of their services. One such technology is something called Full Duplex DOCSIS from CableLabs. Essentially, this technology will put the cable industry on the path to delivering Gigabit services. If you want to get into the technical nitty-gritty of Full Duplex DOCSIS, read the CableLabs blog.
- Technology that improves quality
Like improving speed, cable companies are always interested in tech that can help provide a better quality service. This can be anything from technology that improves how content is viewed, to better Wi-Fi coverage in the home.
- Opportunities for new lines of business
Cable companies already offer a wide array of services. But, they are always interested in new business offerings, such as venturing into mobile. International cable operators are already big players in the mobile industry, but it is only a “matter of time before the cable industry moves more heavily into wireless.” A technology that can help cable companies successfully navigate a new industry would be an especially interesting investment.
- Technology that helps security
Like I mentioned above, many cable operators fund research that improves broadband offerings, such as a way to improve security. Security is a big topic among cable companies, and one they take seriously. Like any business, security is important for the consumer experience, but is also critical for internal systems. At a recent CableLabs event, an emerging company from the UK, PixelPin, presented a solution that would replace all passwords with a unique image that the user selects and a series of taps on that image. Security technologies like this could not only make the network more secure, but could dramatically reduce the number of customer service events related to forgotten passwords.
The Vertical Stack
At the end of the day, cable companies are big enterprises that struggle with typical “big company” problems. Any technology that can solve these big company problems can be of interest to a cable company. For instance:
- Technology that improves business efficiency
While it is nowhere near being a startup, Salesforce.com helps improve business operations. Time Warner cable was discussed in a recent case study whereby using Salesforce they improved mobile sales team capabilities. Any enterprise company values technology that can help it become more efficient.
- Technology that improves operational efficiency
Cable companies spend a lot of money on running the business. Initiatives that can save them money are highly attractive. For instance, an app that improves how service techs communicate with the home office, or something that saves gas for service tech vehicles. Even something that can help cable companies succeed in an internal initiative, such as Time Warner cable’s Go Green Goal.
UpRamp was created with the idea to help startups connect with the vast global cable network. Sponsored by CableLabs, UpRamp offers a 3 month accelerator program called the Fiterator, limited to 4 companies per session. Apply to the Fiterator today.