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Comcast Q1 Subscriber Results Mixed

Michael Harris
Michael Harris

Comcast Corp. was unable top match the broadband pace of SBC Communications, Verizon and BellSouth, which all posted record DSL subscriber additions in the first quarter. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, added only 414,000 cable modem customers in Q1, a decline of 5.9% from Q4 2004, but an improvement of 5% over the same period a year ago. Comcast counted 7.4 million high-speed Internet customers as of March 31 as quarterly revenue for the service reached just under $1 billion for the quarter. On the digital video side, Comcast had its worst quarter for net subscriber adds in almost two years. Comcast added only 200,000 digital subscribers in Q1, a 20% decline from Q4, to bring its total count to 8.8 million. Comcast also lost a net 29,000 basic cable customers in Q1, reversing a recent growth trend. On the positive side, Comcast did well in upselling new features to its digital TV customers. The MSO installed 428,000 advanced digital set-tops with DVR and/or HDTV capability in Q1, generating an incremental $5 to $10 of monthly revenue per box. At the end of the first quarter of 2005, Comcast had deployed a combined 1.6 million set-top boxes with DVR and/or HDTV capability. Turning to phone, Comcast added 840,000 marketable homes to its footprint, all presumably for its new PacketCable-based Comcast Digital Voice service. The MSO said it added more than 7,000 IP phone customers in Q1. Despite the mixed subscriber results, Wall Street was pleased with the bottom line. Comcast's operating cash flow increased 15.9% over Q4 to $2.0 billion for the first quarter. Total revenue reached $5.1 billion in Q1.

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