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Cable Operators

Cox Cites Customer Growth in Quarter

6/16/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Atlanta— Privately owned cable company Cox Communications Inc. said last week that customer additions in the first quarter of the year were the best in company history for similar periods, excluding Katrina-related losses in New Orleans.

Cox — now the fourth-biggest U.S. cable company, with about 5.4 million basic-cable customers, after selling systems with about 900,000 customers in May to Suddenlink Communications and buying 35,000 customers from CableAmerica Corp. — had a 1.2% year over year rise in basic-cable subscriptions in the first three months of 2006, it said in a news release.

Digital-cable subscriptions rose 14.3% and non-video subscriptions (for services such as telephony and high-speed Internet connections) rose 26% the company said.

Cox said it now has 2.6 million digital-cable subscribers, 3 million high-speed Internet subscribers and 1.8 million telephone subscribers.

Cox said it excluded its New Orleans operations from those calculations, because of the local population loss after Hurricane Katrina. Multichannel News reported last month that before Katrina hit last Aug. 29, Cox had 270,000 subscribers in southeast Louisiana and that service had been restored to about 180,000 of those customers. In New Orleans, estimates indicate the population has been cut in half, to roughly 200,000 from a pre-Katrina total of 455,000.

Cox Communications president Pat Esser said in the release that he was “particularly excited about our first-quarter performance in bundled subscriptions. We grew our two-product bundled subscriptions by 8% and our 'triple play’ subscriptions by an amazing 41%.”

Cox said it currently has 3.2 million customers (54%) that buy two or more services among video, Internet and phone offerings and 1.2 million that buy all three.

Parent company Cox Enterprises Inc. bought out other shareholders in then publicly owned Cox Communications in December 2004 at a cost of about $8.5 billion. The systems sale to Suddenlink, for about $2.5 billion, helped pay off some of the debt Cox took on to take the cable unit private.

An updated calculation of the top U.S. cable TV providers now ranks Cox behind Charter Communications Inc., with about 5.9 million subscribers and ahead of Adelphia Communications Corp., with about 4.9 million. Cox’s customer count had been reported as about 6.6 million in December 2005.

Top 20 U.S. Cable Companies
Basic Subscribers (in thousands)
Source: Company reports, NCTA estimates
1. Comcast 21,495
2. Time Warner Cable 11,000
3. Charter 5,913
4. Cox 5,400
5. Adelphia 4,928
6. Cablevision 3,065
7. Bright House Networks 2,200
8. Mediacom Communications 1,422
9. Insight 1,307
10. Suddenlink 1,200
11. Cable One 695
12. RCN 365
13. WideOpenWest 350
14. Bresnan 300
15. Service Electric 284
16. Atlantic Broadband 250
17. Armstrong 227
18. Midcontinent 195
19. Pencor 181
20. Knology Holdings 177

September