AT&Ts Video Cash Flow Ticks Up

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New York-Cash flow for AT&T Broadband's video operations rose just 3 percent in the third quarter, on "essentially flat" analog subscriber growth, AT&T Corp. said last week.

With costs for new-service launches, merger integration and other items factored in, the nation's biggest MSO suffered a 12.7 percent cash-flow decline, to $538 million from $616 million.

But revenue from video operations rose 6.9 percent to $2.2 billion, and overall revenue-including new services-rose 10.8 percent to more than $2.4 billion.

The best numbers, as usual, were in customer counts for cable telephony (up 126,000 in the quarter, compared to 86,000 in the second quarter); high-speed data (up 197,000, compared to 124,000 in the second quarter); and digital video (up 273,000 in the quarter, versus a gain of 214,000 in the second quarter).

AT&T Broadband ended the quarter with 350,000 cable telephony customers in 17 markets. By the end of the period, it was installing 2,100 new phone customers a day as it seeks to execute its key goal of securing local phone accounts.

Last Thursday, the company-apparently reacting to concern that the breakup could diminish AT&T's appetite for building out local phone networks-put out a release that said AT&T Digital Phone service had passed the 400,000 mark.

"Customer demand for this product remains strong," AT&T Broadband CEO Dan Somers said in the release. "We are committed to offering customers a competitive choice of phone service over our own facilities as a cornerstone of our strategy."

AT&T's cable unit had 2.5 million digital video customers and 888,000 high-speed data customers.

At Sept. 28, 78 percent of AT&T Broadband's plant was upgraded to at least 550 megahertz capacity, with most of the network at 750 MHz capacity. AT&T said 73 percent of the broadband plant was two-way capable at the quarter's end.

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