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Cable Europe: strong growth, digital TV will overtake analogue this year

Cable Europe expects there to be more digital than analogue subscribers by the end of this year.

European Union cable operators had 27.8 million digital TV subs at the end of last year, up 12.9%, according to figures released by cable industry association Cable Europe at its annual Cable Congress event, released this morning. There were 25.4 million broadband subscribers at the end of last year, up 9.7%, There were 19.6 million telephony subs, up 9.9%.

Cable Europe’s figures showed 104.5 million revenue-generating units at the end of the year, up 3.3%. TV still accounts for the majority of RGUs, while broadband and telephony have grown steadily.

Broadband generated €5.4 billion in revenues up 9.25%. TV revenues amounted to €10.9 billion, up 5.4%.
Total revenues were €19.9 billion. Television still accounts for 55% of revenues, with broadband accounting for 27% and telephony for the remainder.

Digital TV revenues were up 18% to €6.6 billion. VOD revenues were €493 million, up 20.4%. Analogue customers are still the majority, but digital accounts for some 65% of TV revenues.

Cable Europe managing director Caroline van Weede said that the figures “showed fantastic growth potential”. She said there are currently 18 cable multi-screen deployments globally, including those of Telenet, YouSee, UPC , Ziggo and Virgin Media in Europe.

Cable Europe President Manuel Kohnstamm said that growth had beaten last year’s and digital migration was accelerating. “This year is largely about digital transition,” he said, adding that Germany had been the key growth driver, with strong broadband and digital TV growth. “Germany is clearly the best performing country at this moment,” he said.

Cable operators have already met half of European commissioner Neelie Kroes’ 2020 digital agenda for broadband, according to Van Weede. Cable Europe expects that 25% of households will subscribe to a 100Mbps connection by 2020.

On the public policy front, Van Weede said Cable Europe was keen to ensure that the network neutrality debate goes in the right direction, that there is meaningful copyright reform and that infrastructure competition remains at the heart of policy-making.

Kohnstamm said it was good that the EC was now intervening more at national level to ensure a predictable telecom regulatory environment. “It’s important that this goes to the area of access,” he said, referring to the Belgian government’s decision to regulate in this area without doing a full market analysis. “The investments of the past 10 years…are starting to produce real infrastructure competition,” he said. “That mechanism needs to be reinforced.”

On the question of network neutrality, Kohnstamm said the cable industry believed in an open and transparent way of dealing with data on its network. “We don’t interfere with data flows,” he said.

Next year’s Cable Congress will be held in London.