Comcast could lose $84M in Seattle from muni broadband, new report says

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Comcast is making political moves in both Seattle and Fort Collins to ensure it doesn’t face muni broadband competition.

Comcast would lose as much as $84 million a year in Seattle and $22.8 a year in Fort Collins, Colorado, if municipal broadband projects the cable giant opposes are allowed to develop, a new report said.

The policy brief (PDF), published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks Initiative, and originally reported on by Ars Technica, said that with 138,000 customers in the Seattle area at the end of 2016, Comcast would lose between $20 million to $84 million in annual revenue, should a contested plan to build local municipal broadband come to fruition.

In Fort Collins, where Comcast has 37,000 customers, it would lose between $5.4 million to $22.8 million by facing municipal competition for high-speed internet services.

Speaking more broadly, Comcast could expect to lose between 20% to 30% market share in any city in its footprint that successfully establishes municipal broadband competition, with ARPU taking a hit from greater price competition. 

"Evidence from other cities suggests that a real choice in broadband services could reduce Comcast's revenues by millions of dollars per month," the report said. 

As Ars Technica reported, Comcast is making political moves in both Seattle and Fort Collins to ensure it doesn’t face muni broadband competition. 

RELATED: Comcast didn’t influence damning municipal broadband study, U of Penn researchers say

In Seattle, Comcast Cable and CenturyLink each donated $25,000 to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which supports anti-muni broadband mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan. A spokesperson for the candidate told Ars Technica the city “cannot afford to build a $700 million network at this time.” Durkan is running against Cary Moon, a candidate who supports muni broadband. 

However, the same 2011 study Durkan quoted actually priced the network at between $480 million to $665 million and said that would pay for itself if it captured 43% of the market paying $75 a month. 

In Fort Collins, meanwhile, Motherboard reported that Comcast has kicked in more than $200,000 to two groups opposing a ballot initiative on muni broadband.

Comcast told Motherboard that it isn’t commenting on its public positions regarding muni broadband. But the cable company conceded, ”We are involved in the Chamber of Commerce and in the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association.”

Comcast reps didn’t immediately respond to Fierce’s inquiry for comment.

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