- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Comcast Corp. said Thursday that by early 2010 it plans to offer consumers in most of its markets Internet service so fast they will be able to download a high-definition movie in minutes.

The nation’s second-largest Internet service provider - and biggest cable TV operator - will deploy a technology capable of delivering up to 100 megabits of data or more per second in 20 percent of its markets by the end of 2008, Comcast senior vice president of investor relations Marlene Dooner said at the Merrill Lynch U.S. Media Conference in London.

Dooner said the speed was “very competitive” with Verizon’s fiber-optic Internet service, which had about 1.8 million subscribers in the first quarter.

Among cable operators, Comcast has been one of the most aggressive in deploying a wideband technology called Docsis 3.0 to fend off competitors as more users download videos over the Internet.

Dooner also said Comcast expects to move the majority of its analog television channels to digital in most markets by early 2010. The Philadelphia-based company had set a goal of reclaiming analog bandwidth in 20 percent of its markets this year.

As competition increases, cable’s triple-play package - of video, Internet and phone service - is no longer exclusive because phone and satellite TV companies are offering comparable bundles.

In response, Comcast has been aggressively courting cost-conscious consumers, with its economy plan and packages that bundle two services instead of three.

“We’ve responded. We’re adjusting and we think it’s working,” Dooner said.

The economy did take a toll on advertising, with revenue down 5 percent in the first quarter after excluding this year’s extra broadcast week and a boost from political ads, Dooner said.

Softness was seen in automotive, real estate and retail advertising and in ad sales in Florida, Michigan and California.

Comcast’s ad revenue in 2007 topped $1.5 billion.

Shares of Comcast rose 9 cents to close at $22.72 Thursday.

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