Washington, D.C. --
The cable industry’s six year, $55 billion investment to upgrade its networks for broadband services has yielded widespread deployment and increasing penetration of high speed cable modem Internet service, helping to launch the “Broadband Decade,” NCTA President & CEO Robert Sachs today told participants at Forum 2002, the annual cable industry public affairs conference sponsored by the Cable Television Public Affairs Association.

"The pace of broadband deployment – and broadband penetration – is robust," Sachs said, citing cable deployment of high speed Internet service to more than 70 million households. With 7.2 million customers opting to purchase the service, or 17 percent of homes with PCs passed by cable systems, broadband adoption has outpaced successful consumer services such as color TVs, cell phones, CDs and VCRs, Sachs noted. Moreover, he said, the time spent online by broadband surfers is now outpacing narrowband usage, according to Nielsen/Netratings.

"This remarkable record of steady growth and evolution makes me confident we are embarked on ‘The Broadband Decade,’" Sachs said.

Sachs pointed out that the overall broadband market is growing rapidly, with a combined 80 million homes having access to cable modem and/or digital subscriber line (DSL) service, with almost one out of four PC-equipped homes electing to take broadband service. DSL providers also have enjoyed growth in the broadband market, he said, with the four major DSL providers – BellSouth, Qwest, SBC Communications and Verizon – nearly doubling their customers in one year. DSL is now available to 51.5 million homes. "Cable is offering broadband in a vibrantly competitive marketplace," Sachs said.

The cable industry is leading this competitive market because of its lower prices and higher customer satisfaction levels compared to DSL, Sachs added.

"[T]he Bells warehoused DSL technology for a decade before offering it to consumers," Sachs explained. "Cable has enjoyed a ‘first mover’ market advantage, but one totally of the Bells’ making. Market factors account for cable modem service’s higher penetration."

The government’s "hands-off" policy has been a vital spur to the pace of cable’s broadband deployment, Sachs told the Washington D.C. gathering. "As a result of a deregulatory environment, cable’s broadband infrastructure and services have evolved rapidly," he said.

Sachs urged the Federal Communications Commission to maintain a deregulatory broadband market when it makes a decision later this week establishing the regulatory classification of cable modem service.

"The Internet is global in reach, and a clear national policy statement concerning the regulatory status of cable modem service will provide much needed guidance to the courts, local governments, and the capital markets," he said. "We hope the Commission adopts a course that allows our industry to continue to roll out rapidly high speed Internet service in the most cost-effective manner."

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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