Comcast: 50% 'All-Digital' in 2009

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Comcast expects to reclaim the majority of the analog channels in about half its footprint this year, CFO Michael Angelakis said, speaking at Deutsche Bank Securities Media and Telecommunications Conference today.

“All-digital” in Comcast’s current usage of the term means eliminating 50-60 analogs, while maintaining around 30 broadcast channels and others in analog. To receive the full basic cable lineup, subs who don’t have a digital set-top need a “D-to-A” (digital-to-analog) adapter connected to their TV.

Angelakis said Comcast’s initial DTA deployment in the Portland market has been has been “going well.”

Asked what that means, he said, “Going well for us is, minimal disruptions, launching services, customers satisfied. And over time we’ll talk more… about what the ROI [return on investment] of that effort is, which we think will be pretty positive,” such as reducing cable theft and providing revenue uplift for VOD. “We think this is a very smart strategic move for us.”

[Comcast CTO Tony Werner discusses DTAs in this video interview with Multichannel News columnist Leslie Ellis, who refers to these low-function devices as “digital terminal adapters.”]

Angelakis reiterated that Comcast will roll out DOCSIS 3.0 to about 65% of its footprint in 2009. As he said on Comcast’s Feb. 18 earnings call, the “wideband” and the analog-reclamation projects are expected to cost $400 million to $500 million in capex this year. (See Comcast Funds Wideband, Digital TV.)

With respect to telco TV competition, Angelakis said Comcast’s territory today is overbuilt by the major telcos (meaning AT&T and Verizon) by 20%-21%, which could grow to 30% this year. However, he added, Comcast is continuing to take share from them on voice, as well as data.

Thanks to Stefan Anninger at Credit Suisse, who alerted me to the DTA data point.

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