"Given the economic downturn, this is very encouraging news," said NCTA President and CEO Robert Sachs. "Consumers’ strong response to digital cable services, in spite of difficult times, confirms the excellent value of these new services," Sachs said.
The cable industry has spent more than $50 billion since 1996 upgrading its existing analog plant to provide digital broadband services. Cable operators are offering not only new digital video services, but also are providing a growing number of Americans with competitive choices for high speed Internet and local phone service.
According to the NCTA survey, 1.5 million new digital video customers signed up last quarter bringing the total number to 13.7 million. This also brings to nearly 20% the percentage of U.S. cable customers who have now subscribed to digital video services.
Digital video services provide viewers with dozens of new programming choices through the use of digital compression technology. Over 60 new digital cable channels have been launched and additional video on demand services provide digital cable customers a choice of more than 350 movie titles a month.
Approximately 825,000 new high speed cable Internet customers signed up during the third quarter, bringing the number of cable modem customers in the U.S. to 6.4 million. High speed Internet service via a cable modem is now available to more than 70 million U.S. households.
Cable modem service features "always on" capability and allows access to the Internet at speeds of 50 to 100 times faster than standard dial-up service.
An additional 130,000 residential cable phone customers also signed up during the third quarter bringing the total number of cable phone customers nationally to 1.45 million. The number of cable phone customers has increased by almost 50% during the first three quarters of the year.
Cable phone services include numerous advanced features such as voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. Discounts for cable telephony services generally range from 10-50 percent when compared with the prices of incumbent local telephone providers.
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.