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Cable TV Industry Plagued By Weak Customer Service

Weak Customer Service Could Be Cable’s Achilles Heel, Says ABI Research

Poor cable service quality, coupled with a lack of customer support, combine to create real customer dissatisfaction. These are the kinds of annoyances that inevitably steer subscribers toward other service providers. And at present, this is translating into a major growth opportunity for telecom video services, according to a recent study from ABI Research on the IP set-top box market.

“There is a real opportunity in North America, and to a lesser extent, Europe, for quadruple-play services,” says Stan Schatt, vice president and research director. “We’re starting to see more bundles of voice and data integration offerings, and we have seen promotional pricing to capture the market. But there is such discontent among CATV subscribers that telcos are able to move in and steal customers.”

Verizon and AT&T are beginning to expand their homes passed as well, building out their network upgrades while continuing to work with satellite partners. Interactive services could be a significant differentiator that will help them acquire subscribers in the battle against cable operators. “The interactive nature of the offerings that derive from telcos is proving to be a strategic advantage as we move toward IPTV offerings,” Schatt added. “Interactive advertising may not be a force right now, but down the road it will be a way for operators to target specific homes with specific ads, and to let people respond to the ads. Once again, this requires two-way communication.”

In the IP set-top box market study, ABI Research explains how telecom operators that offer true IPTV can provide services such as multiple camera angles, real-time voting, instant feedback, distance education, and integrated voice services — thereby outshining CATV providers and creating a technological advantage won over by telecom operators.

While telecom service long has been a sore point for consumers, cable operators have managed to earn even lower ratings among their customers. Subscribers have felt captive within the municipal monopolies of the cable companies. According to Schatt, it’s not so much that the telcos have excellent customer relations, but that the CATV companies have terrible customer relations. And this has been observed by major players, including Verizon and AT&T.

The analysis contained in ABI Research’s study, “IP Video Set-Top Boxes” ( includes shipment and market value forecasts for STBs and gateways. For IP STBs, this analysis is broken into categories reflective of feature combinations on boxes.

The report forms part of two ABI Research Services, Home Networking ( and Multi-Channel Video. (

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services, and market reports in broadband and multimedia, RFID & contactless, M2M, wireless connectivity, mobile wireless, transportation, and emerging technologies. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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