Like other service providers around the world, Liberty Global has seen traffic surge over its broadband networks since the novel coronavirus hit its markets three months ago.
In his quarterly letter to shareholders on Wednesday, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said downstream traffic over the cableco's networks has jumped more than 20% across the company's pan-European footprint while upstream traffic has shot up at least 50% since early February.
But, like cable executives at other big MSOs elsewhere, Fries said Liberty Global's networks have "readily absorbed" the traffic surges without any major hitches. "Our recent investments in infrastructure, gigabit speeds and connectivity products have proven invaluable to our customers," he wrote in his letter.
As it dealt with the traffic increases, Europe's biggest cable operator kept signing up more broadband subscribers.The MSO reported netting 22,000 broadband subscribers across its territories in the first quarter, boosting its total broadband sub base to almost 9.37 million, or close to 40% of the 25.9 million homes in its footprint. It now has over 1 million more Internet subs than video subs even though video has long been its core business.
Those broadband sub gains stood in stark contrast to Liberty Global's sub losses in video and voice. The cableco shed 73,900 video subs and 52,800 voice subs during the period, meaning that it lost a total of 104,000 revenue generating units in the winter quarter. The RGU losses were particularly heavy in Switzerland, the company's weakest market, where it even shed 9,500 broadband subs.
Fresh off sealing its deal to merge its UK operations with those of Telefonica, Liberty Global reported some progress with its multi-year Project Lightning network upgrade initiative. In Q1, it extended the upgrade's reach to another 93,000 homes in the UK and Ireland, boosting its total to 2.18 million homes, or 52% of its national footprint. But the company noted that its network upgrade pace has slowed down from previous quarters because of virus-related delays.
Overall, Liberty Global built or upgraded 123,000 new premises throughout its markets during Q1, including the 93,000 UK/Ireland homes.
For more on Liberty Global's earnings results, please turn to our Light Reading sister site.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading