Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - 28
201 8 TOP OPS AWARDS
INDEPENDENT TECHNOLOGY AWARD
C Spire has always said that the " C " in
its name stands for customer, and it is
the customer that drove the development
of C Spire TV, the country's first
commercial, app-based, live streaming digital TV service. Leading
the industry's passage from set-top boxes toward app-based
television, C Spire is the first US operator to use the MobiTV Connect
Platform to deliver a fully managed IPTV service of live, local and
" We knew we weren't leading the industry with what we had
before, " says Bob Sullinger, senior manager for video operations at C
Spire. " Once we understood what people were doing in the way they
consume TV, we had a light bulb moment. "
Gleaning an opportunity in the growing use of streaming video over
devices like laptops, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs, the Ridgeland,
Mississippi-based provider opted to leverage the cord-cutting
trend. It saw a chance to minimize complexity and capital investment
in the home, streamline the installation process and accelerate the
pace of innovation. Operating in an app-based ecosystem, the C Spire
TV team works in six-week release cycles, enabling it to respond
nimbly to customer input.
Much of the customer input, as would be expected, revolved around
adapting to the new technology. The company and MobiTV work
collaboratively to address the issues that came up.
" C Spire and their management are one of the most innovative,
creative groups I've ever dealt with. They drove a process that really
was leading edge, " says MobiTV CEO Charlie Nooney. " The deployment
was not easy because it had never been done before. I give
them full credit for having such a creative mindset.
MobiTV continues to work with C Spire, conducting focus groups and
collaborating to improve the customer experience. " They are very in
tune with their customer base, " Nooney says. " A lot of the feedback we
got from C Spire around customer usage we put on our roadmap. "
Not long after the launch of C Spire TV a year ago, the company
discovered that some customers were having difficulty adjusting to
the new remote, which is a greatly simplified version of the one they
were familiar with.
" You're asking people to move to a remote that basically has northsouth-east-west
navigation, " says Mark Rigney, svp for IP networks.
" We had to work very hard on the actual user interface-how
customers are presented the information, how they can navigate it. "
For customers accustomed to a set-top box, the company sought
a way to increase the ease of use. Beginning this summer, C Spire
TV customers will be able to navigate programming information via
Alexa, the voice-activated virtual assistant developed by Amazon.
Everything they can do with a remote can be done with the voice
navigation app, and more.
Taking another lesson from the customer experience, the C Spire TV team
revised the way they approach service installation. While customers may
want to hide routers out of sight, burying them in corner closets did not
necessarily produce the best results. " When you are providing a service
in the home wirelessly, it changes your approach, " he says. " We became
more astute about where we place the wireless devices. "
Service call rates have dropped, freeing up resources for product innovation
and sales, including a product in the works that is " kind of a cross between
Smart Home and Geek Squad, " Sullinger says. " Repeat truck rolls
were killing us with our prior product, " Now, instead of having to spend
100 percent of their time trouble-shooting and doing lengthy installs, our
technicians now can go and sell other products and services. "
Summing up the new approach, Rigney says, " We're taking two worlds
and putting them together-the old, linear TV service and the app-based
environment-and customers are getting the best of both worlds. " n
- Caron Carlson
uC Spire Wireless, formerly known as Cellular South, is the
nation's sixth largest wireless provider with approximately 1.2
million customers in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.
uAccording to Statista, 60 percent of homes in the US and
Canada said they had a retail streaming device or smart TV
in their home in 2017.
uC Spire TV " learns " a customer's viewing preferences.
The programs and sports teams a customer likes are put
front and center on the guide. Up to 72 hours of previously
aired content on most networks can be replayed.
Cablefax: The Magazine
Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018
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