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Cable could be left behind, warns Cable Congress keynote

Peter Hinssen

Peter Hinssen

Cable operators are in danger of being out-innovated and left behind by big internet providers if they fail to focus on what makes younger consumers excited, according to Peter Hinssen, chairman of Nexxworks.

Delivering the opening keynote at Cable Congress this morning, Hinssen said that five players have emerged – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Ali Baba – the GAFAA mafia – that are global powerhouses in streaming video.

“Facebook might be the most interesting company to look at,” he said. From not having a mobile strategy three years ago, Facebook accounts for a vast amount of data traffic today, he said.

WhatsApp now accounts for three as many messages as all the SMS messages on all telco networks globally, meaning that Facebook is helping turn mobile operators into operators of dumb pipes.

“Facebook is just getting started. I don’t want to depress you but it is time to get started,” Hinssen warned cable operators at the event.

Hinssen said children normally watched TV until the age of about 11, then “entered a tuunnel” where the did not watch much until they became adults. However, he said. It was possible that the current generation would not “leave the tunnel” and start consuming TV again.

Hinssen said that the organisation of traditional organisations – implicitly, including cable companies – militates against innovation. When established companies buy startups “they kill them”, he said. Companies like Google take a different approach, facilitating a startup environment within a larger organisation, he said.

“We are entering a world where smart will be the normal,” said Hinssen, arguing that people have known how to make machines “smart” for 45 years but only now have the “horsepower” – in terms of processing power – capable of making it a reality.

“The speed of change is accelerating. You have to move fast,” he said.