Comcast Sees “Spectacular” Broadband Growth

Comcast , which is nearing the anniversary of its AT&T Broadband acquisition, said its high-speed Internet subscriber base is growing faster than expected.

The Philadelphia cable giant added 470,000 subscribers during the third quarter, a 39 percent bump from the same period last year, and a 35 percent increase over the second quarter.

In the past week, other service providers, including Cox , have reported similar trends because of increased demand and promotional offers. That’s encouraging for service providers who count on upsell additional paid programming and services.

Overall, Comcast now has 4.9 million high-speed customers. Because of the surge, the company increased its guidence for new hook-ups in 2003 by 100,000 to 1.7 million.

“We expect to end 2003 with approximately 5.3 million high-speed Internet customers,” Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a conference call. At one point, he called the figure “spectacular.”

In addition to selling new services, Comcast said high-speed data service adds stability in a market that has traditionally seen a lot of churn. About 20 percent of Comcast’s high-speed data customers also use the company’s video service, a fact that makes it less likely they would switch to satellite TV, the company said.

“High-speed data is one of the stickiest products we’ve seen,” Roberts said.

As for pricing, the company said it will stick with its $42.95 per month service, saying anything lower would be underpricing the service. Executives also said that its fastest growing U.S. areas were the West and Midwest, where it faces aggressive competition from SBC Communications .

Phone services were down in the quarter as were traditional cable subscriptions. Comcast said the dips were expected because of reduced advertising and promotion of the services.

Looking ahead, Comcast said it is readying its systems for voice-over Internet protocol phone service, which could be a strong growth area over the next three years.

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