DOCSIS 3.1 Pays Dividends for Rogers in Q4
Fully deployed DOCSIS 3.1 infrastructure and speed offerings of up to 1 Gbit/s helped Rogers Communication's broadband category generate almost 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (USD) in fourth-quarter 2019 cable revenue.
The provider added 27,000 broadband subscribers in the last three months of 2019 compared with 25,000 in the year-ago period. Rogers ended 2019 with 2.53 million Internet subscribers, up 104,000 versus 12 months prior. Rogers' Internet revenue increased accordingly, hitting $438.45 million in Q4, a boost of 7% from the year-ago quarter.
"Internet remains the cornerstone of our cable business, and we continue to deliver strong and steady growth in revenue and continue to sustain growth and penetration," said Joe Natale, Rogers' president and CEO, during today's earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
This is the 18th consecutive quarter of increasing broadband penetration rates for Rogers, Chief Financial Officer Tony Staffieri said on the call.
"Cable margins expanded by another 100 basis points this quarter due to continued focus on efficiencies and product mix shift to higher-margin Internet. EBITDA margins were 50.4% and cable capex intensity was 29%, down significantly from the 43% in Q4 of 2018," he said. Rogers, Staffieri added, is making "excellent progress towards our goal of 22% cable capital intensity and 25% cash margins by the end of 2021."
By comparison, both video and pay-TV subscriptions fell during Q4 and full-year 2019, despite Rogers' decision to stop selling its legacy solution in favor of Ignite TV, a syndicated version of Comcast's cloud-based X1 platform, across its footprint of about 4.5 million residential customers.
The operator lost 17,000 video subscribers in Q4 2019 compared with 16,000 losses in the year-ago period. Rogers now has about 1.6 million pay-TV customers. Revenue for pay-TV dipped 2% in Q4 2019 versus $1.09 billion in Q4 2018.
At year-end, Rogers had 325,000 Ignite customers, Natale said. The new CPE for Ignite is self-install, a cost-saving and customer-experience enhancing approach that also will help Rogers' move into smart-home solutions, he noted.
"[In 2019] we launched global best-in-class WiFi hub technology, introduced self-install, added Amazon Prime and Sportsnet NOW with more streaming services to come," said Natale, noting Rogers has plans to add more connected home technologies, more content and OTT integration in 2020.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News
In a flurry of activity throughout the week, Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture, and his team spent about $145.8 million in the non-urban or suburban areas of seven states.
Calix reported revenue of $120.19 million – up 4% – in Q4 2019, putting a bounce in the step of company president and CEO Carl Russo and a shine to Calix's ongoing transition from hardware vendor to a provider of platforms enabled by cloud, APIs and subscriber experience.
Looking to curtail e-waste and improve the bottom line, BT will require customers to return routers and set-top boxes, although subscribers will not have to pay a fee when they receive regular broadband equipment.
The industry standards organization is looking to ease operator pain from residential WiFi, while it also sees initiatives in connected home and other projects bear fruit.
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