The agreement between SBC Communications and EchoStar Communications to co-brand and co-market digital satellite TV services could cause cable operators to accelerate their plans for IP telephony, predicted Salomon Smith Barney, in a research note.
“While this partnership does not change our fundamental view on the cable industry, we believe that it raises the stakes in the cable/RBOC bundling battle and will further accelerate cable’s push into IP phone service,” Salomon Smith Barney wrote.
RBOC/satellite alliances, the firm added, “are the lesser of the two evils in that potential fiber builds by the RBOCs are a substantially greater competitive threat, in our opinion.”
So far, cable has been slow to deploy IP telephony services in massive scale. Among the larger operators, Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems Corp., Cox Communications and Charter Communications are conducting trials or starting initial service rollouts. Smaller operators, including Armstrong Cable and Advanced Cable Communications have struck “private label” VoIP agreements with host-based providers such as Vonage.