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Mediacom Revs Up for Gig Upgrade

Alan Breznick

Although it usually travels under the radar, Mediacom Communications is preparing to join the other big US cable operators in offering gigabit speeds to its subscribers as its broadband business continues to grow.

Mediacom Communications Corp. , which is now the fifth-largest US MSO with 1.3 million customers thanks mainly to recent industry consolidation, plans to start rolling out 1-Gig service in its first markets this fall. As part of its $1 billion capital upgrade plan and "Project Gigabit" initiative announced earlier this year, the cable operator intends to deploy 1-Gig to virtually all of the 3 million homes and businesses passed in the 1,500 communities of its 22-state footprint. (See Mediacom Unveils $1 Billion Capital Upgrade Plan.)

With that rollout, Mediacom will join such other major cable players as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. and Altice 's new Altice USA unit in offering gigabit service. Of the five biggest US MSOs, only Charter Communications Inc. has not yet either launched gigabit service or announced plans to do so.

Mediacom now offers download speeds as high as 150 Mbit/s under its UltraPlus broadband package, which also promises top upload speeds of 20 Mbit/s. So the coming upgrade to 1Gbit/s download speeds will represent a huge improvement over the provider's current offerings.

The 1-Gig rollout plans come as Mediacom continues to increase its broadband subscriber count steadily while its video customer numbers continue to slowly decline. In its second-quarter results reported earlier this week, for example, the MSO added 14,000 high-speed data subs while shedding 11,000 video subs. As a result, it now has more than 1.1 million broadband customers and 842,000 video customers, a fairly wide spread.

In both cases, Mediacom improved upon its operating performance from last spring, when it gained 10,000 broadband subs and lost 12,000 video subs. Largely as a result, its revenue rose to $450.8 million, up 4.4% from a year ago, and its operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIDBA) climbed to $172.7 million, up 4.0% from the year earlier.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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