& cplSiteName &

Comcast Spreads the Love

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/14/2008
50%
50%

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will rely heavily on switched digital video (SDV) and analog reclamation initiatives to free up spectrum for gobs of high-definition television fare and the speedier Docsis 3.0 platform, executives said during today's earnings call.

As for HD, Comcast is staying true to its strategy to play up its expansion of high-def “choices,” offering some color on how many linear HDTV channels it plans to add this year.

The operator offers 25 to 30 linear HD channels in a typical system but expects to push that to 50 to 60 by year's end, Comcast COO Steve Burke said on the call. (See Comcast Adds Record 2.5M Subs in '07.)

He also reiterated that Comcast plans to offer more than 1,000 HD choices by the end of 2008, up from about 300 now -- a reflection of the Project Infinity initiative Comcast unveiled last month at the Consumer Electronics Show. (See Comcast Launches 'Project Infinity'.)

“We think we are more than holding our own,” Burke said of Comcast’s ability to keep up with competitive HD offerings. At last check, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), claimed to offer more than 90 HD channels.

Comcast officials also affirmed plans to deploy the Docsis 3.0 architecture to 20 percent of its footprint by the end of the year. The base minimum configuration outlined by the CableLabs specs calls for the bonding of four downstream channels and four upstream channels. (See Comcast Closes In on 100 Mbit/s.)

“We’ll begin to offer [Docsis 3.0] to millions of our 48 million homes later this year,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said.

Lighting up SDV, analog reclamation
The MSO shed some more light on where it expects to find the capacity necessary for its Docsis 3.0 rollout and HDTV expansion plans, notably citing SDV and a broader “all-digital” expansion. (See Comcast Closes In on 100 Mbit/s.)

Comcast has already identified two test markets for SDV: Denver and Cherry Hill, N.J. (See Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds and Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test.) But it apparently has much more in store: The MSO has set aside enough of the budget to light up SDV in about 15 percent of its systems in 2008, according to Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis.

SDV is a system/technique that increases bandwidth efficiency by streaming channels in a “switched” tier only when a customer in a given service group selects them for viewing.

Another 2008 focus will be analog reclamation. Comcast calls this an “all-digital” approach, but “mostly digital” might serve as a better descriptor. That’s because the operator expects to continue offering a lifeline channel lineup -- as many as 30 channels -- in analog format. Moreover, unless it commits to giving every customer a digital box, such as what RCN Corp. is attempting to do in Chicago, Comcast is already mandated to deliver so-called “must-carry” channels in analog form following the February 2009 digital transition. (See FCC OKs Dual TV Carriage Rules.)

With digital penetration in the mid-60 percent range, Burke said Comcast could migrate 20 percent of its systems to an all-digital format by the back half of 2008. That migration, he said, is already baked into the MSO’s capital plans for the year.

“You will see us follow a similar strategy to what we did in Chicago last year,” Burke said, referring to Comcast moving its expanded basic analog tier (about 38 channels) to digital there. Customers who want access to the channels will need a digital box. (See Going 'Mostly' Digital .)

“We’ll send all of our content digitally while maintaining an analog tier of 20 to 30 channels,” he added. That conversion, Burke said, will allow Comcast to reclaim 40 or more analog channels, which can then be allocated for up to 150 high-def channels, Docsis 3.0, “and other ideas that we can dream up.”

Not mentioned on the call was Comcast’s plan to use an advanced MPEG-2 encoding scheme that aims to increase efficiency by as much as 50 percent. Although the MSO has not named its partner for that, it’s widely believed that a startup called Imagine Communications is playing a significant role. (See Imagine Raises the Bandwidth Bar .)

’Impatient’ about SMB
On the small- and mid-sized business front, the MSO generated $384 million, up 46 percent from the previous year, as it put those building blocks in place in 2007. But Burke expressed some disappointment in those results.

“I’m getting impatient that it’s not ramping faster,” he said. “It really is starting to move, but not as quickly as I wish it was. If you look at some of the other cable companies, they have commercial businesses that are much bigger than ours, even not adjusted for the fact that we’re much larger.”

At the end of 2007, Comcast had 2,100 employees dedicated to the SMB effort, comprising 750 sales people and 1,400 techs. It spent more than $150 million last year starting up that portion of the business. It estimates that there are 5 million SMBs in the Comcast footprint that spend $12 billion to $15 billion on telecom services. Comcast’s goal is to generate $2.5 billion in SMB-related revenues by 2011.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Docsis 3.0 Strategies: From Product Development to Service Deployment, a conference that will take a comprehensive look at the cable industry's plans to roll out its next-generation architecture around the world. To be staged in Denver, March 19, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.


(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.