Mediacom Gets Serious About Wideband

Mediacom Communications Corp. will bring Docsis 3.0 technology to half the homes it serves by the end of 2009, according to MSO EVP of operations John Pascarelli, who spoke on the company's first-quarter earnings call this morning.

Pascarelli didn't identify which markets will get the service first, but noted that Mediacom is pleased with the results of some 100-Mbit/s speed tests it has been running in employee homes.

Those tests don't necessarily mean that Mediacom, the nation's seventh-largest incumbent cable MSO, will start off with a 100-Mbit/s wideband service like Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) is in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. But, it does mean Mediacom customers can expect downstream tiers in the neighborhood of 50 Mbit/s or 60 Mbit/s, as other cable operators have done. (See Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service and Charter Takes On U-verse .)

Mediacom's fastest tier, Online Max, presently offers 20 Mbit/s downstream, and 2 Mbit/s in the upstream. The company's attitude on Docsis 3.0 has changed somewhat over the last two years. In the summer of 2007, the MSO indicated that it would take a "backseat" on wideband while larger MSOs begin to roll it out. (See Mediacom Takes 'Back Seat' on Docsis 3.0 .)

Insight Communications Co. Inc. , another mid-sized MSO, has yet to launch Docsis 3.0 services, but CEO Michael Willner has hinted multiple times on his blog that Insight has something cooking.

Mediacom plans to free up some spectrum for Docsis 3.0 and for more high-definition television services by moving some analog channels to digital. Pascarelli noted that the MSO is starting to use low-cost digital terminal adapters (DTAs) to help push Mediacom's analog reclamation strategy forward. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .) Q1 rebound
Mediacom's first-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations thanks to a greater number of subscription additions versus the year-ago period. (See Mediacom Posts Q1.)

Table 1: Earnings Snapshot
Q108 Q109 Change (%)
Revenues ($M) 334.00 357.00 7%
Net Income ($M) -30.00 22.00 173%
EPS ($) -0.31 0.28 190%
Source: Mediacom

Table 2: Analyst Comparison
Analysts' Consensus Estimate Q109 Actual Q109
Revenues ($M) 358.00 357.00
EPS ($) 0.14 0.28
Source: Mediacom, Briefing.com

In the quarter, Mediacom signed on a total of 59,000 revenue generating units (RGUs), which represent the sum of all analog video, digital video, Internet, and phone subs. That's up 74 percent from the fourth quarter. Thanks to some help from the broadcast TV transition -- Mediacom is promoting a low-cost package to consumers who make the jump to cable -- it also added 4,000 basic video subs in the quarter, extending its total to 1.29 million basic.

Mediacom also signed up 24,000 high-speed Internet subs, versus 11,000 in the previous quarter.

A 14 percent decline in capital spending also helped to push free cash flow up 337 percent, to a record $31.4 million.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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