Sifting through Time Warner's fourth quarter 2005 financial reports, an interesting anomaly popped off the pages. The MSO said it added 246,000 cable IP phone subscribers in Q4, bringing its year-end total to 1.1 million. Time Warner said that total equaled 7% penetration of homes marketed for VoIP service. Doing the math, the MSO's VoIP service was therefore available to about 15.8 million homes passed at the close of 2005. Here's the kicker. Time Warner reported 854,000 IP phone customers and 5% penetration at the end of Q3 2005, which translates into a marketable base of some 17 million homes passed. So, the number of marketable homes for Time Warner Cable's Digital Phone services declined by 1.2 million homes, or 7% in Q4? What gives?
If this is not a misprint and Time Warner has reduced its IP phone footprint, the logical question is why? The most likely answer is that the MSO has found some fringe areas of its cable plant do not offer enough RF stability to support lifeline phone service. Or, some divisions have been unable to keep pace operationally. We'll continue to dig and see what we find on the issue.