Fla. Sun Shines on Comcast

Already the biggest cable operator in Florida, Comcast Corp. stands to solidify its wide distribution base there with its acquisition of Adelphia Communications Corp. systems.

And a booming population in the Sunshine State also bodes well for the MSO.

Comcast, which counts 1.6 million basic subscribers in Florida, will pick up an additional 600,000 subscribers in the state after the deal closes. Bright House Networks, which has 1.8 million customers in Florida, will be the second largest operator in the state after Comcast buys the Adelphia systems.

Properties in Florida that Comcast is acquiring from Adelphia include systems in parts of Jacksonville, Dunnellon, Citrus County, Mims, Osceola County, Orlando, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Miami and Homestead. Comcast president Steve Burke pointed to West Palm, along with Loudoun County, Va., as among the fast-growing systems his company will get from Adelphia.

Comcast will acquire 85,000 subscribers in Miami, growing its subscriber base there to 739,000 customers. In Orlando, the MSO will pick up an additional 45,000 customers, growing its distribution base to 119,000 subscribers.

The U.S. Census Bureau said earlier this month that Flagler County, Fla., which runs along the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, was the nation’s fastest-growing county between July 2003 and July 2004. Its population grew 10.1% during the one-year period.

Fourteen Florida counties made the list of the 100 fastest-growing counties, more than any other state.

The Census Bureau also reported that St. Johns, Fla., which borders Flagler to the north, and grew its population by 6.7% between 2003 and 2004, was the ninth fastest-growing county in the nation.

Comcast will face competition in the Port St. Lucie area from Home Town Cable, a small cable overbuilder that debuted in 2003.

There are 289 cable systems in Florida, which count more than 5 million households on 76,717 miles of plant, according to the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association.