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NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli Talks ‘Connectivity Exchange,’ MVNO Deals ... and the New Name

NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli
Lou Borrelli (Image credit: NCTC)

The thermometer reads into the triple digits at the NCTC’s Lenexa, Kansas, office on a late-afternoon June Tuesday, and Lou Borrelli has his sleeves rolled up.

Now 13 months into his tenure as CEO of the National Cable Television Cooperative, the veteran cable executive has been busy transforming the entity, once almost entirely devoted to program-licensing negotiations for its smaller cable operator constituents, into something more useful for cable’s more consolidated connectivity age.

Choosing an odd metaphor for such a hot day, the part of the NCTC’s iceberg poking out of the water is The Independent Show, which is finally set to conduct its first live, in-person event of the COVID-19 era, convening in Orlando, Florida, July 24.

Exhibition space is sold out, Borrelli said, and he expects to exceed the attendance numbers of the NCTC's last in-person convention back in July 2019, and the metrics of the 2018 event, as well. He calls the Independent Show the “last big cable convention,” and he might be right about that.

One of the big unveilings at The Independent Show this year: The National Cable TV Cooperative will have a new name.

“I’m not going to tell you what it is,” Borrelli said, guessing Next TV's next question. “I haven't even told my people what it is yet.”

The name will convey the NCTC's new priorities and focus — a transitional crossroads already traversed by the now-merged SCTE and CableLabs, among other groups serving the cable industry.

In short, what was once a thriving constituency of small, family-owned companies four decades ago when the NCTC was formed has whittled and consolidated into around “700-plus” operators, many of them having forsaken the long-since-very-profitable business activity of bundling TV channels.

Borrelli, a New England native whose last job in a cable industry players uniform was leading Kingston, Jamaica-based Digicel's cable broadband operations, has worked with the NCTC board of directors to come up with some clever initiatives.

Prime example: “The Connectivity Exchange,” which unifies NCTC member companies into singular network platforms, able to pursue big national RFPs.

“Collectively, we represent 40 million digital connections, a third of the country,” Borrelli explained. That, of course, is bigger than either Comcast or Charter Communications. And the beauty of it is, the NCTC can “fill in the holes” for the RFPs the big cable companies go after, too, seizing "complimentary" opportunities.

“If the USPS is looking to get connectivity for 1,000 post offices, we can bid,” Borrelli explained.

NCTC is just getting started with the Connectivity Exchange, which will be amply showcased at the Independent Show. ■

Dialing in to MVNO Deals

Meanwhile, another big Indy Show topic will be MVNO deals, something the org board and constituency have grown increasingly interested in lately as they observe the mobile growth happening at Comcast, Charter and Altice USA.

Negotiating these wholesale wireless network deals has become less and less complicated, Borrelli said, with many of the technical and business hurdles now out of the way.

Video tech is still a big focus for the group, as well — for example, NCTC has been talking to Comcast about licensing Xfinity Flex for its members.

“They could be in Walmart, they could be in Best Buy, they could be wherever,” Borrelli said “But I think we could be very helpful in distribution of that technology.”

“We’ll be ready to go next month,” he added, noting Orlando’s showcase. ‘We’ve hit all our targets.” ■

Daniel Frankel
Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!