Video Tests The Telcos

How an industry may handle the rollout

When it comes to a global view of the telecom industry, Jim Warner,
president of the TeleManagement Forum, is especially well-positioned. For more
than 16 years, his organization has brought together members—including
British Telecom, Bell South, Telecom Italia, Motorola and other industry
forces—to hammer out technical standards related to managing and delivering
services. Warner visited the B&C office
in Manhattan to discuss telecom's future with Ken Kerschbaumer.

It seems that, with the rollout of video
services, telecom operators like Verizon and SBC are really looking to change
the definition of what a telecom company does. Are they ready for that

They're going to have to be. We see the industry moving towards a
model that is very much like the retail fashion industry, where they'll need
to turn on a dime and react to changes. Historically, they haven't been good
at that. They like to take years to develop a product and then let it sit in
the marketplace for years as they get their money back.

How will the introduction of video
change your members?

Well, it means fiber to the home and a new network they aren't used to
managing. They're used to managing long-haul fiber, not on a local-loop
level. So they have a whole new management challenge, starting with the
equipment in the ground all the way up to the network level and then to the
services and customer level.

If they meet that challenge, what will
be the difference between a telecom and a cable company in the

The only differentiator will be what they put in the ground. My sense is
that, while they will be identical in terms of services, there will always be
one better at one service than the other. The current telecom operators will
have an advantage in voice services while the cable company will have an
advantage in entertainment services for some time.