Light Reading

Comcast IDs First DTA Market

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
10/29/2008
50%
50%
Repost This

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
DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
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
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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
OldPOTS
50%
50%
OldPOTS,
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?

OP
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (4) comments


US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments


Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (7) comments


Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment


Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments


Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments


Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments


Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
LRTV Custom TV
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at Mobile World Congress

4|1|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks to Heavy Reading about the value of virtualization spanning from the data center to service provider networks to mobile devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Analysts' Impressions of Huawei SoftCOM at ONS 2014

4|1|14   |   1:11   |   (0) comments


After visiting the Huawei booth at ONS, Lee Doyle of Doyle Research gives his appraisal of Huawei's SoftCOM solution.
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Invests in Healthcare IT Startup
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/15/2014
Volvo: AT&T HSPA+ Can Drive My Car
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/16/2014
T-Mobile Petitions Operators to Kill Overages
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Mobile Apps Susceptible to Heartbleed, Too
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
WhatsApp Threatens Carrier VoLTE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/18/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed