Many cities have only one cable company providing service to consumers. Congress has been debating the need to increase competition in all markets since 2003. The debate started when Cox Communications received numerous price and service complaints from customers in California and Arizona, and there were no other providers with significant market share. Starting a cable company can be challenging, but could meet a large demand.
Cable Company Business Start-Up Guide
First, determine if there is a market for your cable company services. Review research reports published by state governments or universities in the area. Read technology trade publications and local business journals to look for increases in population, subscriber rates and spending on television entertainment.
Retain a business consultant or a business plan writer. In a professional document, detail your threats and opportunities in the cable services market and how you plan to take advantage of opportunities and overcome these threats.
Choose a business entity and apply for the appropriate license. Most of your competitors will be incorporated. Follow suit. Hire a business lawyer to help complete the incorporation documents.
Decide on the methods you will use to deliver cable services to consumers. Use satellite systems like DirecTV, go underground like FiOS, or piggyback on existing infrastructures. Cell phone services form agreements with one another to deliver service by using each other's towers. Try to form these agreements with other providers.
Secure the money you will need to operate your cable business. "Inc Magazine" writer Jill Andresky Fraser advises, "Community banks, the antithesis of all those huge financial institutions that are merging and acquiring themselves into the deal-making stratosphere, offer the best (and maybe the only) chance for many small or young companies to start building a banking relationship."
Apply for the Cable Operators License through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The documents and forms are available on the FCC’s COALS website.
Get zoning permits if you are planning to build your own delivery infrastructure. Review all zoning requirements for the entire state. Zoning laws may differ from county to county.
Build your home-base of operations. Find a building that can be renovated or an empty lot with room to build your facility. Employ the service of real estate broker to help find the best deal.
Gather list of contacts for cable broadcast stations. Call their representatives and discuss cable carriage agreements. Set up meetings with their representatives. Bring your lawyer and accountant along to help secure favorable agreements. The FCC also requires you to adhere to the "Communications Act,” which “requires cable operators to set aside a specified portion of their channels for local commercial and non-commercial television stations.”
Employ an advertising agency with a solid reputation. Get referrals from other business owners and design a marketing and advertising campaign to compete with other providers in the area. In the book, "Guerrilla Creativity" Jay Conrad Levinson writes "The agency must demonstrate that it knows there are many other marketing weapons and that it is capable of using (or directing the use of) all the appropriate ones in your potential marketing arsenal."
- “Kiplinger's Personal Finance”; Telecom Trifecta; Alex Tarquinio; May 2005
- Federal Communications Commission; Cable Television Fact Sheet
- Guerrilla Creativity: Make Your Message Irresistible with the Power of Memes; Jay Conrad Levinson; 2001
- Telecom Management Crash Course: Managing and Selling Telecom Services; P. J. Louis; 2002
Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.