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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 15, 2014

Cable Provides Greater Share of Fastest Connections

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

As U.S. regulators evaluate the proposed Comcast (News - Alert) acquisition of Time Warner Cable, much will be made of the merger’s impact on video market share. Comcast arguably will be able to make a case that is not a big issue, principally because local competition really will not be affected. Comcast and Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable do not overlap in local markets.

Some might argue the bigger problem is the impact on either high speed access market share, or the potential impact on Comcast’s programming or distribution businesses. Some might argue Comcast’s role as a content provider will be enhanced by internalizing a former customer.

Others will argue that Comcast, at the same time, becomes a stronger buyer of programming, as it will gain more volume.

The issue some might argue is more important is the impact on competition in U.S. high speed access markets, where cable TV providers of high speed access already have about 58 percent share of the installed base, but also are getting at least 82 percent of the net new additions in that market.

Some might argue cable is getting as much as 100 percent of net new additions.

Already dominant, the cable industry is growing much faster in high speed market share than telcos are growing.

Also, the strategic value of high speed access for a cable operator arguably is higher than for AT&T and Verizon (News - Alert). Virtually 100 percent of cable TV revenue comes from services provided over the fixed network. That would not change much, even if cable operators launch mobile services using a Wi-Fi-first model.

AT&T (News - Alert) and Verizon, on the other hand, earn less than half their total revenue from the fixed network, and almost none of the revenue growth.

But even that is not the most important part of the story. At least for the moment, cable providers have a higher share of the faster access connections.

That also seems to be true in the United Kingdom, where cable high speed access accounts for a disproportionate share of the fastest connections

Edited by Alisen Downey

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