Cable Modem Shipments Hit 7 Million

Combined worldwide shipments of cable data and voice modems surged to another record high in the third calendar quarter of 2006, driven by steadily growing MSO demand for the voice modems as well as surprisingly strong demand for the data-only modems.

Total global shipments of Docsis cable modem and PacketCable embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) climbed well above the 7 million unit mark to reach 7.37 million units in the summer quarter, easily breaking the old quarterly record of 6.95 million units set in the spring, according to the latest data compiled by Cable Digital News. The new total represents a 6.0 percent increase from the cable industry’s second-quarter count and about a 16.8 percent jump from the year-earlier total of 6.31 million units shipped.

As usual, E-MTAs, which integrate cable data modems with PacketCable IP phone adapters, accounted for much of the growth in Docsis device shipments. As MSOs in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere stepped up their rollouts of VOIP service throughout the summer, worldwide voice modem shipments soared to a new high of almost 3.1 million units, up from nearly 2.9 million units in the second quarter and nearly 2.1 million in the year-earlier period.

Thanks to this growth, E-MTAs accounted for an impressive 42.0 percent of all Docsis device shipments by the top cable gear makers during the quarter. That’s up from 41.6 percent in the second quarter and 32.5 percent in the third quarter of 2005.

At the same time, worldwide shipments of data-only cable modems climbed in the third quarter, after slipping in the second quarter and falling on an annual basis for the first time in 2005. Docsis modem shipments rose to nearly 4.3 million units during the summer, up from just under 4.1 million units in the second quarter and more than 4.2 million in the year-ago period.

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) strengthened its leadership in the expanding E-MTA sector in the third quarter, increasing its edge over previous category king Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). Arris reported shipping slightly more than 1.3 million voice modems, up from nearly 1.1 million the quarter before and 863,000 in the year-earlier period. As a result, it captured 42.5 percent of the worldwide market, up from 37.7 percent in the previous quarter and 42.1 percent a year ago.

Motorola kept its hold on second place in the worldwide E-MTA rankings despite lower unit shipments in Q3. Moto shipped 800,000 voice modems in the third quarter, down from 928,000 units in the second quarter although up substantially from 476,000 a year earlier. This performance earned Moto a 25.9 percent market share, down from 32.1 percent in the second quarter and 23.2 percent a year ago.

In its second full reporting period under Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) rule, Scientific Atlanta enjoyed another surge in E-MTA sales, closing some of the gap with second-place Motorola. S-A shipped 673,000 million voice modems during the quarter, up from 587,000 units in the quarter before and 425,000 a year earlier. As a result, its market share edged up to 21.8 percent, up from 20.3 percent in the second quarter and 20.7 percent in the year-ago period.

Such other leading cable modem makers as Ambit Microsystems Corp. also scored E-MTA shipment gains in the third quarter. But none of the other manufacturers captured more than 3.2 percent of the voice modem business.

Despite Arris's growing lead in the E-MTA market, Motorola maintained its command of the overall Docsis device business globally, thanks mainly to its continued domination of the data-only modem business. With purely data modems still accounting for 58.0 percent of the category total, Moto shipped 1.5 million data-only devices, far more than any other vendor.

Overall, Motorola shipped 2.3 million Docsis devices in the quarter, down from 2.7 million in the second quarter and up from almost 2.1 million in the year-ago period. As a result, it kept up a commanding 31.2 percent market share, although down from 37.4 percent the quarter before and 41.1 percent the year before.

S-A, which had fallen to third place in the overall Docsis device standings earlier this year before recapturing second place from Arris, boosted its lead over Arris while closing some of the gap with Motorola. The Cisco division shipped nearly 1.7 million data and voice modems in the second quarter, up from more than 1.3 million in the first quarter and 957,000 a year earlier. Consequently, its market share climbed to 22.9 percent, up from 19.1 percent in the second quarter and 15.2 percent a year ago.

Hampered by relatively low data modem sales, Arris slipped further back in third place in the vendor rankings despite higher overall shipments. Arris shipped more than 1.4 million data modems and E-MTAs in the spring, up from 1.1 million in the spring quarter and 919,000 units in the year-ago period. Its global market share climbed to 19.3 percent, up from 17.2 percent in the previous quarter and 14.6 percent the year before.

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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