Charter Makes Run at Digital Lead

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With a weekly run-rate of 24,000 digital set-tops, Charter Communications Inc. has set its sights on 1 million deployed digital boxes by year-end.

One million set-tops would represent a 15.87 percent digital-penetration rate for the 6.3-million-subscriber MSO.

AT & T Broadband remains the volume leader in terms of set-tops, with about 2.2 million deployed at latest count. AT & T expects to reach 2.8 million set-tops across its 16 million homes by year's end, giving it a 17.5 percent penetration rate.

Time Warner Cable has come on strong in digital deployments over the past year. It had 889,000 set-tops in the field as of June 30, 2000, adding 459,000 in the first six months of the year. If it adds 500,000 in the second half of the year, it will close at 1.389 million, giving it an 11 percent penetration rate across 12.6 million subscribers.

Cox Communications Inc. added 400,000 digital subscribers in the first six months of 2000, giving it 560,000 as of June 30. Another 400,000 would give it 960,000 by year's end. Based on its 6.2 million basic subscriber count, that would result in 15.5 percent penetration.

Comcast Corp. executives said the MSO is on track toward 1.25 million set-tops by year's end. With 8.2 million basic subscribers, Comcast would achieve a 15.2 percent penetration rate.

Adelphia Communications Corp. could also close the gap. It added 211,000 digital subscribers in the second quarter alone, to reach 342,085 by June 30. At that quarterly rate, it would reach 764,000 digital subscribers by year's end, giving it a 14.9 percent penetration across 5.14 million homes.

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