Friday, December 27, 2013

Ziggo outlook 2014: questions on Liberty Global, mobile and CEO

The main items for 2014 are the new CEO (René Obermann, from Jan. 1), expansion of the mobile strategy, the impact of Netflix, and obviously: an offer from Liberty Global.

Here are the details:

  • Will LGI and Ziggo agree on an offer price? Or will Ziggo resist, like Telenet did?
  • If Ziggo and UPC NL merge, what will be the consequences: improved financials, complex integration, regulation possibly.
  • DT's René Obermann will take over January 1. What will his plan be?
  • There is a chance of more small acquisitions in the business market.
Network and broadband:
  • Docsis 3.1 is coming (2015?), but copper networks can match this (albeit over very short distances) with Other competitors are FTTH, LTE and possibly Redstone's new technology.
  • Further down the road are options such as all-IP and extension of the spectrum beyond 1 GHz.
  • Alliances with OTT service providers cannot be ruled out, like ONO/Sony for PlayStation users.
  • What is the impact of Netflix, on data usage and capex?
  • Service provision over third-party cable networks may come to an end. After Kabelnoord, Cogas and Borculo will probably choose for exclusive provisioning by Caiway.
  • The end of analog TV is nearing. This will release a large amount of spectrum.
  • The Ziggo TV app may be extended with new options, such as nationwide usability (i.e. outside the Ziggo footprint) or a version for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
  • Ziggo could cooperate with Netflix to bring the latter's CDN (Open Connect) to its network. Or Ziggo could go one step further, like Com Hem and do a distribution deal.
  • Will Ziggo endorse HbbTV?
  • Possibly Ziggo will work with the Comcast RDK or Wyplay's Frog for STB innovation, i.e. a Horizon-like connected device.
  • The WiFi network will be extended, using both CPE and public locations.
  • So far, mobile services are SIM-only and for TV subs only. Will the service go nationwide, become a full MVNO? And become part of a quad play? Possibly with handset subsidies?
  • Will the company ever use its 2600 spectrum? (Will the opex advantage outweigh the capex effect?)
  • Will there be a VoIP app such as UPC Phone or BT SmartTalk? (Possibly as an extension of the current Visual Voicemail app.)
  • Uncertainty and risk are at a maximum, simply because of the large numbers of questions (see above), exemplified by the arrival of a new CEO. DCF valuations will vary widely - giving Ziggo's management an easy job to claim a very high offer from Liberty Global.
  • Assuming René Obermann takes up the CEO position January 1, he can either work with or against Liberty Global. Resisting like Telenet, will surely see him get sacked in the next few months. In other words: if Obermann indeed takes up the CEO position, a deal with Liberty and a friendly takeover are highly likely.
  • A full MVNO strategy (with VoIP app) seems likely, since the current limited mobile strategy probably doesn't do enough for growth.
  • OTT partnerships seem less likely than at ONO, Com Hem and Virgin Media.

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