While the commercial sector has long been considered low-hanging fruit for cable operators to pluck, as a group, they have generally kept the focus on the residential market. But with the residential market nearing saturation, MSOs are turning their attention to the small business market, and hosted VoIP is the offering of choice.
The global market for hosted services will exceed $34 billion by 2012, of which the North American portion – and most of the cable operators pursuing the small business option are located there – will amount to $11.6 billion, according to a new study from ABI Research.
“Cable companies have a lot of fiber capacity available in their urban and suburban networks,” explains principal analyst Michael Arden, in a release. “The cores of these networks are fairly free of bottlenecks, and operators have realized that they can target small businesses largely using existing resources, and at relatively little added expense.”
As MSOs of all sizes train their sights on the SMB market, VoIP is likely to be bundled with Internet access, and sometimes with storage network or VPN services.
Arden cautioned that equipment vendors can expect limited windfalls from this trend: much of the core infrastructure is already in place, and added deployments will mainly be restricted to connecting new business customers to the fiber that passes through their neighborhoods.