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Cable begins to take telco TV seriously

Comcast COO Steve Burke acknowledged last week that new television services from Verizon and AT&T are serious competition for cable.

Verizon’s FiOS, he told an investor group in New York, is providing significant competition for his company, while AT&T’s U-verse has had less impact so far. That will change when AT&T ramps up its new network, he predicted.

“Verizon is real,” Burke said. “FiOS exists in our footprint; Verizon is taking video customers from us.”
At the end of June, Verizon’s FiOS had 515,000 customers and was available to about 3.9 million homes, for a penetration rate of 13 percent. The telco is seeking 4 million customers by 2010.

In a report in Media Daily News, Burke was quoted as saying that Verizon may still suffer from investing too much money too quickly to deploy its fiber-to-the-home service. “We have always questioned, will they get a fair return for their shareholders?” he said.

As to AT&T, a competitor with Comcast in the Houston market, Burke sees significant competition ahead. “They are real — they’re a very big company, very serious about what they’re doing, spending a lot of money.“