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2K for D3 in Q4

Jeff Baumgartner
1/28/2010

5:05 PM -- The number of consumers who have made the jump to Docsis 3.0 is a hard one to come by, because, for the most part, MSOs simply aren't revealing it.

And they have a pretty good reason to keep that number hidden beneath the kimono: It likely isn't all that big. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) ended last year with D3 enabled on more than 75 percent of its footprint, but it's been mum on wideband subscriber pickup.

But some light on the status of D3 adoption was shed today. As Steve Donohue reported today, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) COO Landel Hobbs did relay on this morning's earnings call that the MSO did gain 2,000 wideband subs during the period in New York City, still the only market where it's even launched the service. TWC, by the way, added 122,000 high-speed Internet customers for the period across the board. (See Time Warner Cable Hits WiMax Accelerator.)

The D3 adds aren't much to write home about, but is anyone really all that surprised to hear such a relatively meager number? I'm not. Docsis 3.0 services in the U.S. aren't exactly priced to move the way they are in Japan, for instance.

And I'd wager that most cable modem subs simply aren't going to pay a premium during a time in which there's a lot of penny-pinching going on.

Wideband does offer an effective defensive hedge against FiOS and other fiber-fed Internet access competition, but those who do opt for D3 (likely small business customers, in many cases) are probably jumping in only because they actually need those speeds, and not becasue they feel like plunking down more cash each month just so they can be the block's broadband braggart.

Still, how MSOs market Docsis 3.0 will certainly play a tremendous role in determining how quickly consumers adopt the technology.

Sunflower Broadband told us recently that it has achieved a 2 to 3 percent penetration rate for D3 since it introduced the service last fall. But it's gotten there by offering free upgrades to customers who were taking Sunflower's fastest tier before Docsis 3.0 rolled into town. All those subs have to do is pick up a new modem, and they can enjoy the faster wideband speeds without a price hike. (See Seeding Docsis 3.0 .)

Of course, employing and managing that strategy in Lawrence, Kan., is one thing. Pulling it off in a place the size of NYC is quite another.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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