& 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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, July 27, 1:00PM EDT
The Changing Face of the Data Center World
Rodney M. Elder, Senior Solutions Architect, Equinix
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
in association with:
From The Founder
In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
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.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
LRTV Interviews
Enterprise Pitch for Ciscosson

7|14|16   |   04:43   |   (0) comments


After seven months of near silence, Cisco and Ericsson executives publicly discussed details on their extensive partnership. Among the tidbits shared by Martin Zander, VP, group strategy programs, Ericsson, and Doug Webster, VP service provider marketing, Cisco: The partnership was initially launched to serve the service provider market, but is already gaining ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Kevin Lo's Move to Facebook: Sign of Things to Come?
Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, 7/20/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Ericsson Ejects CEO Vestberg
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Is Dish Going Down the Drain?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 7/21/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
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.