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Digital Drives Cable Growth

New digital services, particularly high-speed Internet, are driving growth in the cable industry, according to the midyear report from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Providing relief from otherwise stagnant numbers for overall TV programming subscribership, cable broadband Internet customers have increased 35% in the past year. For the year ended in March, high-speed Internet subscribership climbed to 17.3 million from 12.8 million.

Since the end of 2003 alone, broadband subscribership has climbed 7.5% from 16.1 million. Digital cable penetration is another bright spot, up 15% from 20 million at the end of first-quarter 2003 to 22.9 million.

Overall cable subscribership during that time has remained at 73.3 million. Cable telephone penetration climbed 8% during the first three months of 2004 to 2.7 million after remaining relatively stagnant at 2.5 million through most of 2003.

NCTA President Robert Sachs said the numbers show that the cable industry's $85 billion in new digital plant is paying off for operators. "With a major infrastructure upgrade during the past eight years, cable operators have demonstrated their commitment to meet consumer demand for these exciting new interactive services," said Sachs.  "Cable operators are now offering consumers a variety of products that can meet their information, entertainment and communications needs," he said.