Comcast Chief Financial Officer Mike Cavanagh reported that subscriber additions for Comcast’s cable business—which consists of the Xfinity-branded broadband, pay-TV, landline and mobile phone units—slowed at the end of August 2021, and lags behind the same period in 2019 before the pandemic. Cable peers, such as Charter Communications, Altice USA and Cable One, also experienced stock share-price selloffs. During the height of stay-at-home pandemic orders at the beginning of 2020, companies such as Comcast and Charter added record numbers of broadband customers as people
The fastest-growing mobile-phone carriers in the US aren’t phone companies. More than five million Americans now pay for mobile-phone service through their cable-TV providers, enticed by low prices and the ability to easily adjust their phone plans, a flexibility that proved particularly useful during the pandemic.
Comcast's 4th-quarter profits rose, boosted by continued growth at its broadband business. The company added 538,000 new subscribers during the quarter. While 2020 was a banner year for Comcast's broadband results, executives on the earnings call noted that it was somewhat of anomaly due to the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic led millions of Americans to turn their homes into offices and classrooms. It also forced many to change their habits to keep their internet bills in check. The amount of time consumers spend streaming TV, gaming and using Zoom or other videoconference platforms substantially increased since the start of the pandemic, activities that often eat up large amounts of data.
Trian Fund Management LP, a hedge fund known for pushing big companies to make operational and other changes, has launched an activist campaign against Comcast in a bet that the cable-TV and entertainment giant’s stock is undervalued. Trian has accumulated about 20 million shares in Comcast, for a roughly $900 million stake or about 0.4% of the company. Comcast’s market value is about $200 billion. Executives at Trian -- which was founded by Nelson Peltz, Ed Garden, and Peter May -- recently began conversations with Comcast management.
Internet usage soared 25% within a few days in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic started forcing Americans to stay home and is bound to remain substantially higher than before the pandemic. The increased internet usage has pushed broadband providers to perform round-the-clock enhancements on their networks, in hopes of minimizing hiccups to connection and speed.
Home internet and wireless connectivity in the US have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods. Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m.
The Federal Communications Commission’s nearly decade-old program, Measuring Broadband America, is the US government’s gauge of whether home internet-service providers are holding up their end of the bargain when they promise users certain speeds. Companies wield tremendous influence over the study and often employ tactics to boost their scores, according to interviews with more than two dozen industry executives, engineers and government officials.
Leaning on broadband for growth, cable and telecom companies push consumers toward premium internet tiers
Cable and telecommunication companies are leaning heavily on their broadband businesses to propel growth as demand for pay TV subscriptions declines. They are using a range of tactics to shift consumers onto faster, premium speed tiers. In some cases, that means boosting speeds free temporarily, then raising fees later. Some consumers say that when they call to complain about their bill, the provider assuages them by offering a higher speed at a promotional rate that eventually gives way to a higher price.