ANAHEIM, CA -- Heightened domestic security concerns have underscored the need for competitive telecommunications facilities and the value of broadband connections, National Cable & Telecommunications Association President & CEO Robert Sachs told the opening session of the Western Cable Show.

“With the growing recognition that multiple communications paths provide an extra and necessary measure of national security, we are likely to see facilities-based competition take on increased importance in Washington, “ Sachs said during his opening address at the California Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual gathering in Anaheim, California.

“September 11th demonstrated the vital role that cable companies play in providing essential communications, ” Sachs said, pointing out that “when telephone circuits were overloaded due to the tremendous volume of calls, broadband networks performed well, enabling millions of Americans to communicate with their families, friends and co-workers.”

Citing a recent Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter study, Sachs said that high-speed cable Internet service is now available to more than 70 million households as a result of the cable industry’s investment of more than $50 billion in broadband upgrades. “The long-term challenge for us will be generating greater consumer demand,” Sachs told the convention audience.

“In this regard, our industry is off to a good start,” he continued. “When you consider that just over 50% of U.S. households own PCs and that only 45% use any form of Internet access, the nearly seven million cable modem customers represent almost 15% of homes with Internet access.”

Digital video products likewise are gaining widespread consumer support, Sachs said. According to a recent NCTA member survey, cable companies added 1.5 million new digital customers during the 3rd quarter (July 1 – September 30) 2001. The cable industry now counts 13.7 million digital cable customers, or 20% of all cable customers.

“These are very positive results when you consider that it took nine years to sell 10 million cell phones in this country, and 13 years to sell 15 million PCs,” Sachs remarked.

Sachs also detailed the positive performance of cable-delivered telephone services. “While cable phone service is newer than either digital cable or high-speed Internet access, the first three-quarters of this year saw a near doubling in the number of residential cable phone customers, to nearly 1.5 million as of September 30th,” he said.

NCTA is the principal trade association of the cable television industry in the United States. NCTA represents cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation's cable television households and more than 200 cable program networks, as well as equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry.

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