The National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) recently announced a series of deals that will enable its members to become Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). Beyond the headlines, these deals will not only be beneficial to its members but promise to help NCTC, in the words of Lou Borelli, “Create a more diversified, sustainable revenue stream.”
In the above interview, filmed at the February 2023 ACA Summit, Borelli, NCTC President & CEO, explains why they partnered with Reach for the backend-end software and complete onboarding and customer experience.
The Reach partnership provides, as he puts it, a white-label, Amazon-like experience that allows the smallest operator to start offering wireless service without the need for a retail presence. At the same time, Reach provides the flexibility for the operator to provide phones on a retail basis if they choose. Implicit in this flexibility is the opportunity for different bundling options as well.
Although at the time of the interview, they did not have a deal for a wireless carrier (see NCTC/AT&T April 13th announcement), price, coverage, and performance were important attributes of such an agreement, according to Borelli. He also emphasizes NCTC’s “stronger together” message with the 22M potential customers in its aggregated membership.
This is where it really gets interesting as the customer base has the potential to grow through the addition of new members to the coop. Borelli indicates that they are seeing interest “from other types of broadband providers, not traditional cable operators, who are interested in joining the coop.” This provides another revenue stream to NCTC’s connectivity solutions, which includes offerings such as IP Transit, and enterprise-managed Wi-Fi offerings.
To this last point, Borelli indicates there is flexibility in their deals such that Wi-Fi offload should be possible. At the same time, NCTC did not want to require Wi-Fi offload, as that could have precluded participation from many of their members.
With that said, Borelli believes this solution will evolve to match the experience of the members. If the evolution of this service matches Comcast and Charter’s success (see Jeff Baumgartner’s excellent summary of MoffettNathanson’s analysis), then NCTC’s wireless approach could become a valuable revenue and profit addition for its members.
In addition to the benefits for NCTC’s members, these deals could also have a positive impact on consumers, particularly in the rural areas served by NCTC members. By creating more choices and with their inherent local presence, NCTC members could help drive down prices and improve wireless service in the markets they serve.
Author’s Note: Thank you Bard for the editing advice and some of the above text. Note, Bard is a large language model from Google AI (Note, Bard’s reply to the previous sentence, “That sounds great! It is clear, concise, and gives credit to Bard. I would be happy to see that attribution on a site.”)
ViodiTV coverage of the 2023 ACA Connects’ Summit courtesy of Calix.