May 24, 2011
Don't expect Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) to follow AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and CableOne and launch a usage-based billing (UBB) model for broadband services anytime soon. (See Will Cable Follow AT&T's Lead on Usage Fees?)
Speaking at a Barclays Capital conference this morning, Comcast CFO Mike Angelakis was adamant that UBB models just aren't in the cards at the moment, and that the MSO is content with its current Internet usage policy, which keeps "excessive use" in check via a monthly 250-gigabyte cap. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)
"First of all, [to] be clear, we're not adopting it," Angelakis said of UBB.
But never say never. "We've deployed the instrumentation that people need to ... gauge how much they're using, and if we ever wanted to go to usage-based billing or consumption-based billing, we could possibly do that," he added.
The topic came up because AT&T has just started to enforce a new policy that charges DSL and U-verse customers extra if they go above their limits. CableOne is looking to do the same for its new Docsis 3.0 service. And, as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T showed earlier, setting or testing UBB policies can create a heap of PR trouble that Comcast would just as soon avoid. (See CableOne Tries Out Overage Fees and TWC Mothballs New Metering Trials .)
"I don't know why we would disrupt a pretty good run we're having right now," Angelakis said. Comcast added 418,000 high-speed Internet subs in the first quarter, giving it a total of 17.4 million.
Some other tidbits from Angelakis's talk:
Comcast is using IP to distribute video to tablets, smartphones and connected TVs as more and more intelligence moves to the cloud, but "set-top boxes, I think, will be here for a while," he said. The comment comes a few days after a review of the MSO's "Xcalibur" service, which uses an souped-up DVR, leaked out. (See Reviewer Sneaks A Peek at Comcast 'Xcalibur' and The Disappearing Set-Top .)
It's unlikely that Comcast will try to expand its cable empire incrementally through M&A during the industry's next phase of system consolidation. "To go from where we are today and add a couple million customers, I'm not sure that does anything for us," he said.
Comcast sizes wireless backhaul as a $1 billion opportunity.
Comcast is also heading up-market to target companies with 20 to to 250 employees using Metro Ethernet, but Angelakis reiterated that it's getting "negligible revenues right now" from that segment even as its small-business efforts continue to see rapid growth. (See When Will Comcast's Move Up-Market Pay Off?)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable
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