The war between US phone companies and satellite and cable TV operators is hotting up.

A report by consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers says cable companies can be victorious but their tactics must become more aggressive if they are to defeat phone giants such as Verizon, Bell South and SBC.

Says PWC partner Ted Schaefer: "Now's the time to push the pedal to the metal. [Cable operators] need to push pretty hard and do a lot more marketing."

The phone companies are close to completing a $10 billion (€7.6bn, £5.3bn) investment in fibre optic lines which will allow them to offer TV, phone and internet packages.

PWC predicts they will begin to grab market share in two years, while the number of cable subscribers will fall 3% by 2008.

The consultants urge cable operators to roll out packages of video, internet and phone services together with more high definition and video-on-demand channels to stay ahead of satellite rivals.

These services will need further investment to upgrade cable lines but, as Schaefer points out: "They have an advantage — a network they can leverage. All of the digging has been done."

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff