CenturyLink to 'soft launch' Prism TV in Phoenix next year

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is ready to move its Prism TV IPTV service into Phoenix, CEO-President Glenn Post said during a third quarter earnings announcement Wednesday.

Post, speaking during a conference call detailing the earnings results, said the soft launch would represent the "first legacy Qwest market to receive the service" that he said "represents a very compelling entertainment alternative to cable."

Prism TV, too, is important to the company's bottom line, he said, noting that the carrier added 10,000 new Prism TV subscribers in the third quarter and now has more than 104,000 TV subscribers in eight markets with a 10 percent-plus penetration rate across those markets.

"Prism TV continues to have a positive impact on churn and line loss trends," Post explained. "We experienced greater than 90 percent broadband pull-through rate with our Prism TV sales to new customers [and] continue to expand our Prism TV-enabled footprint and expect to drive additional subscriber growth in the months ahead."

Prism TV, it seems, is doing better than the traditional telco services. Overall, the company blamed "lower legacy services revenues" for a decrease in third quarter operating revenues--$4.57 billion compared to $4.60 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

The loss, a company news release said, was "partially offset" by "increases in strategic revenues, primarily resulting from business customer demand for high bandwidth data services and growth in high-speed Internet and Prism TV services."

CenturyLink added 44,000 high-speed data customers in the quarter and plans to focus its efforts on driving speeds to the 20 Mbps to 25 Mbps range using existing copper and techniques such as bonding to drive up rates. Fiber-to-the-node rollouts, which were expanded to cover more than 310,000 living units during the quarter and now pass 6.8 million units, Post said, allow the carrier to be even more aggressive, hitting bottom speeds of about 40 Mbps.

"Depending on the distance to our customers' [premises] we can double that to 80 megabits," he said.

More broadband throughput is crucial to an IPTV service, as are "new functionality and application" enhancements the telco continues to add to the service, Post concluded.

For more:
- CenturyLink issued this third quarter earnings release
- Morningstar carried this earnings call transcript

Special report: Bonding telcos' love affair with copper through VDSL2

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