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Cable/Video

Comcast Mines Business & Home Services

As it continues to lose core video subscribers, Comcast Corp.is increasingly seeking to plug the gap by promoting business services and new home-networked products. Comcast reported earlier today that it generated a whopping $741 million in business services revenue during the first quarter, up 27.5 percent from $581 million a year ago and easily shattering its record of $660 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. If it can keep up that breakneck pace, it will come this close to reaching $3 billion for the year, up from $2.4 billion in 2012. To put that total in perspective, Comcast produced just $400 million in commercial services revenue in 2007 and didn't crack the $1 billion mark until 2010. Or, to look at it another way, business services now generates far more revenue than advertising ($488 million for the quarter) for the MSO and is quickly gaining on residential voice services ($900 million). On an earnings call with financial analysts Wednesday morning, Comcast executives said small firms (those with fewer than 20 employees) continue to produce the lion's share of revenue, accounting for almost 85 percent of the company's commercial take. Midsized companies, which Comcast is now targeting with products like Metro Ethernet, account for another 15 percent. Comcast officials also said they will continue to invest in network infrastructure and equipment to boost their commercial prospects. The cable division's capital expenditures climbed 3.6 percent to $1.1 billion in the first quarter as the company spent more heavily on both business services and Xfinity Home, its new home security and control service. Company officials expect cable capex to rise 10 percent for the year. Setting their sights on other markets beyond video, Comcast executives also see growing promise in home networked products like Xfinity Home. Although they haven't released any revenue figures for it yet, they said the home security solution is picking up speed. CEO Neil Smit noted that 40 percent of Xfinity Home customers are new to Comcast and 70 percent are subscribing to its new quad-play bundle (voice, video, data and wireless). Smit said Comcast, which has also been boosting broadband speeds and wireless capabilities, sees "other opportunities for products that we could hang off the Wi-Fi" connections in subscribers' homes. To that end, Comcast announced last week that it's introducing a more powerful DOCSIS 3.0 wireless gateway from Cisco Systems Inc. that can deliver home networking speeds of up to 270 Mbit/s. — Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
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