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Comcast targets 1 million new passings in 2023


Comcast is looking to rural edge outs and in-footprint fill ins to help it step up its broadband expansion efforts in 2023, with Comcast Cable CEO David Watson stating it could reach nearly 200,000 more passings than it has in each of the past two years.


During the operator’s Q4 2022 earnings call, Watson noted Comcast added 813,000 new passings in 2021 and 840,000 in 2023. But this year, he said it has the opportunity to hit “around 1 million passings.”


In terms of where it will be expanding, Watson said the majority of builds will cover opportunities to fill in its residential footprint, chase “hyperbuilds” in multi-tenant buildings and other commercial opportunities. It will also tackle rural edge outs, which Watson said will help it “pick up the pace” of its expansion.


“We think we’re doing well early stage in terms of the grants and the wins around these communities,” Watson said of the rural builds. “But we’re going to take a very disciplined approach and we’re going to go after returns that are similar to historic levels as we do that.”


But it doesn’t seem Comcast will be relying on subscriber growth from these new passings to boost revenue given the pressure it is facing from industry rivals. Instead, Watson indicated it will look to grow average revenue per user (ARPU) to drive income. “It remains a challenging environment to add subscribers right now. However, as our record high revenue, adjusted EBITDA and margins in 2022 show, we have a successful model of driving revenue EBITDA and cash flow rather than just chasing units,” he said. Watson added part of the ARPU growth is coming from plan step ups, with a third of Comcast’s base now on its gigabit-plus products, compared to 5% three years ago.

Metrics

Comcast lost 26,000 broadband customers in Q4, thanks in large part to the impacts of Hurricane Ian in the Southeast portion of the country in September. Absent the storm, Comcast said it would have added 4,000 broadband customers.

Revenue in the Cable Communications division rose 1.4% to $16.6 billion, with broadband revenue specifically up 5.4% to $6.2 billion. The unit recorded a $305 million impact from severance expenses. Though Comcast confirmed in November that it was laying off a small number of employees in its field organization, a company representative told Fierce on Thursday that the majority of the severance charges were related to a voluntary retirement program that ran in the quarter.

Consolidated revenue was roughly flat at $30.6 billion. Net income attributable to Comcast fell 1.1% to $3.0 billion.





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