Light Reading

Comcast IDs First DTA Market

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has identified Portland, Ore., as one of the first markets that will fuel an all-digital migration with one-way digital terminal adapters (DTAs).

"Portland is getting ready to go as we speak with the new DTA boxes, which are now in stock and in test homes," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said this morning during the MSO's third quarter earnings call.

Comcast is expected to deploy DTAs aggressively as part of an all-digital strategy that will enable the operator to reclaim spectrum from about 40 analog channels, reusing it for Docsis 3.0 and expanded high-definition television (HDTV) and video-on-demand (VOD) services.

Comcast anticipates migrating 20 percent of its footprint to all-digital by year's end, and has said previously that it might need as many as 25 million DTAs to complete the migration over the next 12 months to 18 months. Comcast said it plans to deploy millions of DTAs in the fourth quarter alone. (See Comcast Doctoring Digital in Detroit , Comcast Pursuing $35 Digital Dongle, and Comcast Confirms Digital Dongle Project.)

So far, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), and Pace Micro Technology have been identified as Comcast's DTA suppliers. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) also has a DTA on the roadmap. (See Pace Pix , DTAs on Parade , Thomson Confirms Comcast DTA Order, and Cisco Doubles Up for Cable.)

Even with a self-install option, Comcast anticipates that its DTA markets will require additional truck rolls and elevated levels of marketing. Those costs are "all baked into our plans, but it does have an effect on the profitability of that system when it's going through that conversion," Roberts said.

Comcast COO Steve Burke later downplayed concerns that the DTAs will provide access to the operator's expanded basic digital signals without encryption -- at least for the foreseeable future.

"In many senses, it (digital video fed through DTAs) will be more secure than the analog distribution," Burke said. "We will not be using encryption initially, and that's fine in terms of our programming contracts." Those DTAs, however, could activate so-called "privacy mode" encryption via a firmware upgrade, but doing so could force the operator to seek out a special set-top waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional .)

Weathering the economy
Comcast's third-quarter results showed the operator wasn't yet effected by a turbulent economy, but it did witness slower subscriber growth in some service categories.

Revenues rose 10 percent to $8.5 billion, with net income reaching $771 million (26 cents per share), versus $560 million (18 cents per share) in the year-ago period. (See Comcast Reports Q3.)

On the service front, Comcast lost 147,000 basic subscribers in the quarter, much worse than a 27,000 basic subscriber loss expected by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc.

Comcast, however, added 417,000 digital video subscribers, extending that total to 16.8 million and a penetration rate of 69 percent. About 7.3 million of that total also subscribe to the MSO's digital video recording (DVR) and/or hi-def service.

The operator also signed up 382,000 cable modem subscribers, giving it 14.7 million subs. Comcast noted that it was still too early to judge the success of its initial rollout of Docsis 3.0, the baseline for its new 50 Mbit/s and 22 Mbit/s downstream service tiers. (See Comcast Takes 'Wideband' Wider .)

"We have [Docsis 3.0] customers now, but measured in the hundreds," Burke said. "The good news is, technically, it works beautifully… but in terms of customer reaction, it's just too early."

Comcast signed up 483,000 digital voice subscribers, extending the total to 6.1 million, or a penetration rate of 13 percent. Growth in the category slowed (the MSO added 550,000 VOIP subscribers in the previous quarter), and Comcast noted that it's growing weary of churn caused by customers who cut their hardline in favor of getting voice services only from a wireless carrier.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:28:34 PM
re: Comcast IDs First DTA Market
Does Comcast see any real revenue boost from all these DTAs, or are they just trying not to tick off customers as they upgrade their networks?
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:28:33 PM
re: Comcast IDs First DTA Market
The payoff for them is the bandwidth they recapture for Docsis 3.0 and more HDTV and VOD, which are all tied to revenues. But I think this will also put a lot more analog subs in digital tiers...and gateway them to vod, hd, dvrs, etc.
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:28:27 PM
re: Comcast IDs First DTA Market
Maybe...if they want to have access to the expanded basic tier. But Comcast hasn't announced the pricing under the DTA model. They may have to give these away (a certain # per analog home) to make it work. Foisting DTAs on subs and hitting them with additional fees for that...ahem...privilege makes no sense. JB
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:28:27 PM
re: Comcast IDs First DTA Market
It makes them competitive (HD & VOD) but it messes with fast channel switching and multiple sets which most base subs like.

Then are these customers going to add more expense in these economic times?

From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.