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Cable Operators Standing Firm in Broadband Battle

The Baby Bells' efforts to win consumers over to DSL haven't hurt their big rivals, analysts say.

Telcos are cutting prices on high-speed Internet service, but cable operators -- with one major exception -- are standing firm.

That assessment, in a recent report from Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Lara Warner, updates a major ongoing issue among cable operators such as


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Cox Communications



AOL Time Warner



Particularly following recent price cuts in DSL broadband Internet service by major telcos such as

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, cable investors have sought to assess how much and how soon cable operators might have to cut their prices for cable modem service. Such cuts would reduce the profitability of a key component of cable's growth over the past year, as operators have battled slow basic cable growth with advanced services.

As previously reported, Verizon in May cut its list price on DSL service. Meanwhile,




SBC Communications


have cut upfront fees, reports Warner; SBC, additionally, has cut its 12-month promotional price in Cox markets.

Over the past two months, says Warner, AOL Time Warner's Time Warner Cable has maintained pricing in New York City, and Cox has even made promotions less generous in at least one market. But, says Warner, Comcast has extended its $20-per-month promotional offering -- less than half of list price -- from a two-month duration to six months.

But cable operators say they're seeing no impact on their business from the DSL price cuts. All of the operators presenting at a series of investor meetings in Chicago this week, according to Banc of America Securities analyst Douglas Shapiro, "stated that they have not seen any adverse impact from SBC's and Verizon's DSL price reductions."

Shapiro notes that both Verizon and SBC have experienced improved subscriber additions for DSL in the past few months, but he speculates that the trend suggests the transition from narrow-band, dial-up Internet service to broadband is speeding up -- not that the growth of broadband cable is slowing.