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Cablevision slowing rollout

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Cablevision Systems’ ambitious digital box rollout plans have hit a pothole.
The Long Island cable operator’s decision last week to postpone its much-heralded digital rollout for six months worried investors, who pushed the company’s stock down 7 percent after the news.
Cablevision originally said it would roll out 100,000 Sony DCT-5000 boxes in the first quarter. The boxes are supposed to provide a wide array of interactive services, including e-commerce, video on demand and an on-screen interactive guide.
Cablevision’s delay comes on the heels of similar moves by other major cable operators, including AT&T Broadband, which, due to technology glitches, are slowing down or cutting digital set-top box orders. Last month, AT&T cut its set-top box orders through March. But Cablevision executives say customer service concerns, not technology glitches, are the reason behind their delay.
“We are technologically ready as per our original schedule,” said Cablevision President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Dolan during the company’s fourth-quarter-earnings conference call last week. “The delay is due to our service infrastructure. We want to be absolutely sure that when we put this product out we are fully capable of servicing it and [are able] to explain and sell the services that go along with that set-top box.”
Industry experts downplayed the implications of Cablevision’s announcement, saying its situation is different from other announced digital box slowdowns centered on software problems.
“They’re a special case, because these guys are doing a forced switchout-nobody else is doing a switchout,” said Yankee Group Senior Analyst Mike Goodman. “You have to be careful about using them as an example for the industry as a whole.”