Comcast Hits 10 Million Cable Modem Subs

North America's largest MSO is piling up broadband subscribers again, with a big boost from the now-defunct Adelphia Communications.

Comcast, which ended the second quarter with 9.34 million cable modem subscribers, proclaimed earlier this week that it has now signed up 10 million data customers. That makes it the first U.S. or Canadian broadband provider to hit this milestone, although AT&T will easily surpass the mark as well when the feds approve its pending deal to take over BellSouth.

Comcast rightly credits this achievement partly to its takeover of numerous Adelphia cable systems. As a result of its joint $17.6 billion purchase of Adelphia with Time Warner Cable last month, Comcast took charge of Adelphia's systems in south Florida, Boston, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Conn., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Vermont. In addition, as part of the complicated Adelphia purchase, Comcast swapped its huge systems in Los Angeles and Dallas for Time Warner's cable systems in Minneapolis, Memphis, Tenn., Jackson, Miss., Louisiana, and northeastern Florida.

Thanks to these two deals, Comcast added about 1.7 million of Adelphia's 4.9 million basic cable subscribers, raising its overall total to 23.3 million basic customers. That translates to an estimated pickup of nearly 630,000 cable modem subscribers, based on Adelphia's 37 percent broadband penetration rate across all of its systems.

In addition, Comcast credits internal growth, driven by the growing popularity of its new $99 triple-play bundle. With its triple-play package now rolling out across the nation, the MSO netted a very respectable 305,000 cable modem customers in the second quarter after signing up a record-setting 442,000 subscribers in the first.

Besides hitting 10 million broadband subscribers, Comcast also reached 1 million VOIP customers in late August, becoming the third major U.S. MSO to scale that mark. Thus, it joins cable VOIP leader Time Warner Cable, which is now approaching 2 million IP phone subscribers, and Cablevision Systems, which cleared 1 million subscribers in early July.

What this means is that Comcast, which closed the first half of the year with 721,000 VOIP subscribers, is enlisting new phone customers at an accelerating rate. The MSO now seems on track to sign up more than 400,000 subscribers in the third quarter and reach at least 1.5 million VOIP customers by the end of the year, after adding more than 500,000 subscribers in the first six months.

Pleased with the results, Comcast said it now aims to hire more than 4,000 new technicians and customer care representatives by the end of 2006, up from 3,000 new employees earlier in the year.

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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