Cable Makes a Comeback

Nineteen of the largest U.S. cable operators and telcos together raked in 2.2 million net additional high-speed Internet subs in the first quarter. But the interesting nugget was that the cable ops added more subs -- 1.2 million, or 54 percent -- in the period than the telcos, and that's the first time that's happened since the third quarter of 2004.

That's according to new survey results from Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) , which say the top broadband service providers now serve 64.1 million subs. Of that total, cable still has the lion's share, with 34.7 million, versus 29.5 million for the biggest telcos. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) led the cable category with 14.07 million high-speed subs, with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), on the telco side of the house, coming in with 14.65 million.

But why did cable come back in the first quarter? LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman attributed it to the fact that larger telcos, generally speaking, have curtailed "prior aggressive price-based offers to woo subscribers."

While that helped cable make up some ground on the telcos, overall growth slowed a bit. LRG says overall broadband adds in the first quarter of 2008 were down 25 percent from the year-ago period. Cable clicked in with 84 percent as many adds as a year ago, while the telcos dipped collectively to 67 percent.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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