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Broadband Spending Drops: Equipment Costs Falling, Your Prices Rising

Phillip Dampier March 21, 2016 Competition, Consumer News, Data Caps No Comments
Fixed (wired) broadband is now the most important revenue component of the TV-Internet-Phone package.

Fixed (wired) broadband is now the most important revenue component of the TV-Internet-Phone package.

Despite ordering 41 percent more downstream network equipment in 2015 than the year before, cable operators enjoyed a 3% drop in broadband equipment expenses, according to researcher SNL Kagan.

While your cable operator blames the cost of upgrades and usage growth for your latest broadband rate hike, cable company spending on broadband actually declined thanks to lower prices and more efficient broadband networks.

ARRIS, a major supplier of cable broadband equipment, also saw its revenue from equipment sales decline as cable operators used software virtualization to cut the price of DOCSIS channels over new, more efficient converged cable access platforms.

Cable operators are feeling heat in some markets from emerging fiber-based competitors, but the imminent arrival of DOCSIS 3.1 has made meeting those competitive challenges easy and less costly than ever before.

ARRIS closed out the year as the global revenue leader in broadband equipment, grabbing 53% of total revenue among providers of cable broadband infrastructure. ARRIS benefitted immensely from the focus of its primary North American customers, including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, on dramatically increasing throughput to stay competitive with Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, and Google Fiber.

“The imminent availability of DOCSIS 3.1 linecards and full-spectrum channels won’t slow the continued purchase and deployment of current DOCSIS 3.0 channels as cable operators must continue to increase throughput to reduce the likelihood of churn among their broadband subscribers,” said Jeff Heynen, senior research analyst for SNL Kagan.

But the costs to deliver those service improvements are now so low, providers are enjoying actual declines in their annual expenses for equipment upgrades, while at the same time many are raising prices and introducing or increasing modem rental fees and usage caps.

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