Uncommon Wisdom

Feb 29 2008   2:19PM GMT

Cablevision reduces capex, ups FiOS competition

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Cablevision reported better numbers, best of the major cable TV providers, and a sharp reduction in capex. Capex as a percent of revenues has dropped from over 16% (about what the US RBOCs spend) through 13% to slightly more than 11%. All of this suggests that the firm is taking a price-war model stance in competition with FiOS versus a feature stance, which is what competitor Comcast is taking. Cablevision had little to say about advances like DOCSIS 3.0, which would let cable spans increase their broadband speed to FiOS levels. Note that cable broadband is more “shared” than DSL or FiOS and thus raw speed numbers are not necessarily indicative of relative observed performance. We think the capex ratio shift here is the important element; a “successful” cable competitor is one that lowers capex-to-sales below RBOC levels, which means that the RBOCs can outspend the cable companies in capital improvements. Thus, ironically, innovation in access networking must come from the “conservative” carriers.

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